“Is this the good guy or the bad guy?” I’ve repeated the phrase often while watching a movie or reading a novel. Sometimes information becomes too much to process, so it’s natural to seek tidy boxes to help sort. If we’ve grown up in the church we’re very familiar with this tendency. After all, our worldview is based upon the greatest (and true) story of good versus evil, and we often take that to the Scriptures. We place our favorite heroes and villains in their appropriate box. Abel—good. Cain—bad. Abraham—good. Lot—bad. Jacob—good. Esau—bad. Esther—good. Haman—bad. And the list goes on and on.
But the problem is we are reluctant to take anybody back out of their box. We get to a passage about our courageous Esther spending the night with the king of Persia and scratch our heads. What do we do with this?
I love a good checklist. There’s something satisfying in visualizing what I’ve accomplished. Those fancy goal-driven planners, exercise coaches, or diet gurus want us all to do the same. Don’t think about what you didn’t do, but focus on what you did.
It’s a great idea, right? While it definitely could be in some cases, if I’m honest by the time my head hits the pillow, it’s hard to not think about all that wasn’t.
But what if we actually should think about our failures? Nestled in the book of Numbers are two seemingly boring passages that have much to say about this.
It’s easy to be disappointed. From the big to the small, we’ve become hardwired for distrust. The shirt we just bought snags and the thin material creates a hole. Our new piece of furniture is immediately scratched and peeling. We scour reviews looking for reliability right along with the return policy. This doesn’t end with consumer products, either. Our social media feeds or Netflix binges may delight for a moment, but we know even they never leave us full. Eventually the sugar high wears off, and our stomachs are left aching for more. Will anything give true satisfaction?
Enter: the menstrual laws of the Old Testament. No, seriously.
“It’s not fair!” It’s a phrase I know I’ve said more than once as a child. From birth, I had my own view of right and wrong, and even now as an adult my view feels malleable. Movies or TV shows tweak my sympathies towards even “the bad guys.” Well it wasn’t really that bad, was it?
It’s a question that sits in the back of all of our minds if we’re honest.
It was basically the truth.
Everybody gets frustrated with their kids.
We all waste our time.
It’s not an idol– just something I enjoy.
Or is it? Tucked into the end of Numbers is a story that smacks our excuses in the face…
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