Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Root of Your Plagues

Sometimes it is difficult to discern the connection between our sins and the undesirable circumstances that plague us. How does that famous law of science go? For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.

It's a truism for both the material world and the emotional/social/spiritual world. However, as is expected, in the world of emotions and relationships and spirituality - it's not nearly as easy to connect the reactions to the original actions.

A bat hitting a ball is a fairly simple connection. A cruel word hitting a wounded heart becomes a complex reaction spread through time and body and attitudes and choices and identity and values and faith. For most of us, we fail to understand the power of our words and actions - the power to hurt and wreck and derail.

We often fail to make the connection between the sins we've committed and the outcomes they produce in the lives of others. And the reverse is true: we often are mystified as to how the sins of others against us affect us.

And then we wonder what's wrong with our world. We even get upset with God for not doing more to prevent more "wrong" from wrecking our society and globe. When we see or hear about a terrible tragedy or a catastrophic weather event, we wonder why God would unleash such terror on innocent people. There is no simple answer for such complex situations. But before we go abstract, let's stay personal.

What about the plagues in your life? Where do they come from? Are they unexplainable curses by God upon you? Is God angry with you - and you have no idea why? What if the root of your plagues is connected with your sins and those that have sinned against you? What if what is wrong with you stems from the wrong you have done and the wrong others have done to you? The plagues of your life, and the plagues of Egypt, were intricately connected to the personal and societal sins of many, many people.

The plagues were not random acts of violence by a bloodthirsty God upon an unsuspecting civilization. Read the story carefully. Read your life carefully. God is not out to get you - but sins must be judged, they must be punished, and you must be set free.

As you begin to perceive the roots of your plagues, you have a couple of choices. You can harden your heart like Pharaoh, and refuse to deal with reality, refuse to accept your guilt, refuse to learn from the consequences. Or, you can soften your heart, accept forgiveness, and seek wisdom on how to make amends.

The roots of sin go deep into us. Some of the plagues may never completely be blown away. But accepting forgiveness of our sins, forgiving those who sin against us, cuts off the more of the roots of sins power in us. We create more room for love and new opportunities for good when we soak up forgiveness. At some point the plagues we cursed become the instrument for our freedom. If that's what you want.

As you read through the story of the plagues (or signs), and as you study the culture and religion of the ancient Egyptians, you can make more astute connections between the five sets of signs (or plagues) and the sins of the pharaoh, the people, and the religion against the Israelites they had enslaved.

Each sign/plague was both judgment for their sins, a shaming against particular gods and goddesses used to prop up a regime of enslavement, and a tool for bringing about freedom for the oppressed.

1. River of Blood
2. Multiplication of Frogs

3. Infestation of Vermin
4. Swarms of Dog Flies

5. Diseased Livestock
6. Scourge of Boils

7. Hailstorm
8. Locust Invasion

9. Descent of Darkness
10. Firstborn Deaths

God gave repeated opportunities for the Pharaoh, the ruling elite, the priestly class, and the people to repent, to change their ways, to let the people of God go into the wilderness to worship Yahweh. But the pain of letting the people go was greater than enduring the plagues. Until the end. Sometimes that is how change happens for us.

The root of a lot of your plagues is often a hardened heart, a stubborn will, a prideful spirit - and it will take much sorrow and afflictions for you to change. God is interested in setting you free from what plagues you - from the power of your sins which are rooted deep into your soul. Will you let him? 

Will you learn how to let him set you free to love him? Will you open yourself up to let God love the world through you? This is when your plagues become the instrument through which God not only saves you, but by which he uses you to save others. If you want.

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