They are like cozy little blankets that make me feel warm and secure. Give me some distinct boundary lines, and oh I will joyfully skip right down the middle so that I never get too close to those edges.
Mmm, clear expectations, I adore you.
Yes, I'm nuts. (And I'm married to someone who loves to bend the rules. So that's fun.)
Rules are often made with the hopes of yielding specific results, if they are followed. And rules make the concrete-thinker and people-pleaser in me feel very safe and accomplished. If what's "right" and "wrong" is clearly set out before me, I can follow those guidelines and hopefully be successful. I also can stay away from doing things the wrong way, if I know what is right. Thus, yielding perfect results in ministry, parenting, pleasing God, my marriage...
This system of living works for putting together an Ikea cabinet.
It doesn't work, however, for living life with REAL PEOPLE or for following Jesus.
God paints pretty broad strokes in terms of how to love Him and love people. (There are specifics like "don't murder anyone" and "give to those in need." But where are my rules for how to specifically love people in Seattle? Or how to get a certain toddler to stop shouting in the face of his sleeping brother?)
People don't come with a bullet-point list of how to love them well taped to their foreheads. (I wish.)
I was recently thinking about this while I paced across the linoleum floor in my kitchen, and I was kinda whining to the Lord. "Give me some more specific rules, Jesus! Better yet, just be here with me and tell me how to stinkin' do this life."
John 16 quickly came to my mind, where Jesus is speaking to His disciples and He tells them, "it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you."
And then the Lord (lovingly, wisely) punched me in the gut.
You don't need rules - you have the Holy Spirit.
I AM the wisdom you seek. You don't need a rulebook; you need ME.
I'm in the beginning stages of unpacking this. I might be slow on the uptake and you all know this already, but relying on the Holy Spirit and not on my own, safe little rules is life altering for me.
People are deep, intricate, and God-breathed - one-size-fits-all rules for how to love and navigate life with others just doesn't work.
Jesus never intended on giving us a rulebook. He sent His Holy Spirit instead. He wants me to walk with Him, intimately. He wants me to rely on Him in each situation in my life, as I pray about the future or as I interact with a friend. His wisdom, His love is so much better than my safe little rules.
I'm a little terrified about embarking on what feels like a crazy journey - letting go of my weirdo
rule-abiding life, and instead grasping the hand of beautiful Jesus.
He might take me places I'm afraid to go.
He is absolutely going to stretch me.
But I want to jump in with both feet and not look back.
My rulebook is crushing me; I'm choosing freedom and I'm choosing to love people more like He does.
I'll leave this probably jumbled and crazy blog-novel with an incredible line from a recent She Reads Truth study: "Following Jesus is more art, less science. It's not about following rules, it's about following Him."
Here's to more art, and less science.