I have to admit it. I like playing life ‘safe’. Nice home, small but secure pension from a public sector job, a tidy lifestyle without too many complications… Not the sort of person who acts on impulse, or lives life from moment to moment… But what if God has other ideas for me? What if I am missing out on the best because the cotton wool that I have neatly secured around me to protect me is also restricting me and stifling me from so much more that He has for me?
So as I look at Exodus 20:22-26, I realise this is speaking to me every bit as much as to the Israelites. My ‘gods of silver or of gold’ might be, not so much my home, my income, my security, my space and so on, but my dependence on them. I perhaps am choosing these things rather than being open to the Holy Spirit, who might lead me in other directions that don’t feel quite so safe! These verses tell us that God wants our wholehearted allegiance and love, and if I am holding back, however valid my reasons might seem to me, they are, after all, just excuses.
Verse 24 speaks of building an altar. It should be simple, made up of natural earth, the stuff that is all around me, with no proud design; uncontaminated. Nothing showy, just a place where I can quietly lay down in sacrifice before God anything and everything that might come in the way of living life to his calling. And maybe some love offerings too – not things he’s demanding from me, but things I just want to surrender, because I love him, and he has loved and done so much for me.
And where his name is honoured, God has two rewards. He comes. And he blesses. That is a promise. The security I build into my lifestyle could be snatched away in any number of ways. It’s not really that secure. But the promise of God’s presence, and his blessing – well if it’s security I want, it doesn’t get any better.