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Lenten Reflections: The Beauty of God’s Design

'Birds Flying in The Sunset' photo (c) 2009, Dricker94 - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Friday, March 1, 2013

Judges 16:23-31
Mark 4:35-41
Galatians 3:23-29

By Molly Lauer

Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, writes that “[b]efore this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed.  So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.  Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law” (v. 23-29). 

The new life that God offers in this passage makes me feel both incredibly thankful and incredibly scared. On the one hand, what a blessing to be freed from the oppressive, impossible nature of the strict Judean law!  In a busy life in which I already struggle to clean the bathroom regularly, get my students’ work graded in a timely fashion, and call my mom as often as she’d like, I can’t imagine a world in which I could also find time to bring the right fowl to the Temple at all the right times!  With Paul’s message of freedom from the law, I feel like a teenager on the first day of getting her driver’s license, the world an open road in front of me. It is only because of the grace and forgiveness God offers that this faith is even attainable to me at all.

And yet sometimes the freedom from the law feels like an intimidating unknown.  In being released from strict adherence to God’s good law, I feel like a shy small child encouraged to try out the big ball pit at a fast food restaurant for the first time, quietly resisting the prodding to just jump in.  I feel like a timid deer on the edge of a wide meadow, wondering which way is safe.  I feel like a young adult with a generic degree who is looking for a new job and has no idea where to begin the search.  Although freedom offers much forgiveness and relief, it offers minimal direction.  A world of opportunities opens up, and yet you don’t know which one is best, or even good.

It reminds me of Derek Webb, a musician whom some of you may remember from the 1990s contemporary Christian band Caedman’s Call, and of his song, “A New Law.”  In it, I think he plays with this theme when he sings, rather sarcastically,

Don't teach me about politics and government: just tell me who to vote for.
Don't teach me about truth and beauty: just label my music.
Don't teach me how to live like a free man: just give me a new law.
I don't wanna know if the answers aren't easy, so just bring it down from the mountain to me.

I want a new law
I want a new law
Gimme that new law

This song has always resonated with me in a world in which so many options and so much freedom. Sometimes it seems that if we could just go back to a world where we were governed by a strict law, and all we had to do was obey it perfectly to do right, then that would be easier.  Somehow, that seems comforting. Almost.

And then I am reminded what a sinner I am, even with a simplified law, and I am again ever so thankful. I realize the beauty of God’s design of freedom and forgiveness, and how God opens the world to everyone, literally everyone, with this gracious acceptance (Galatians 3:26-29).  And I pray that God will simply guide my feet towards the good path and teach me to live like a free man—not give me a new law.

Prayer:  Dear God, please teach us to have child-like faith in You, and not lean on a faith that tries simply to follow the rules.  Allow us to feel your forgiveness and grace running over us and your Holy Spirit guiding us across the open meadows.         

Molly Lauer is a member of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, in Washington, D.C. This post is reprinted, with permission,  from NYAPC's 2013 Lenten Meditations booklet.


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