This past week my Bible readings took me to Leviticus 16. I have to confess that normally the thought of reading Leviticus doesn't excite me, because it is a seemingly endless list of how-tos about offering sacrifices, ritual cleansing, punishment for particular sins, how to behave on the Sabbath, observing religious festivals, rules for priests, etc. None of which appears to apply specifically to my daily life. However, this time I saw something new. Isn't that often the case when we read God's Word?
In Leviticus 16, God is speaking directly to Moses, giving him step-by-step instructions to convey to his brother Aaron about preparing for the annual time of atonement. Step 1: Enter the holy place with a bull and a ram. Step 2: Put on the holy linen tunic and the linen undergarments. Step 3: Take 2 goats from the people for a sin offering. Step 4: Cast lots for the 2 goats. One will be used for the sacrifice, the other will be the scapegoat. etc. etc. etc. The list goes on for at least thirty more steps, each specific and detailed.
Because of the shed blood of Jesus on the cross, our worship experiences today look nothing like those in the time of Moses, but that's not what struck me about the chapter. First, I imagined how it must have been for Moses to hear God's voice directly, and then I marveled at God's attention to detail. Nothing was left to chance. Everything was to be done in an orderly, purposeful way.
Think about how our lives might be if God laid out His will, His plans, and His instructions in the same way today.
"Connie, at 10:00 this morning, I want you to take a pie to your neighbor Jill. She's feeling lonely and would love for you to stay and share a piece with her while you visit."
"Connie, at noon today, I want you to go to the grocery store. Your friend Suzy will be there. She's worried about a diagnosis she just received and desperately needs to tell you and have you pray with her right in the middle of the store."
"Connie, when you get home, I want you to write emails and cards to Nancy, Brenda, Sandra, and Beverly. They are each worried about situations in their family. They need to be reminded that you are a trusted friend."
"Connie, call your children and tell them how much you love them and how proud you are of them."
"After that, prepare a nice dinner for Steve. He has worked hard all day and needs nourishment. He needs to know that he is your priority and as he eats, encourage him and share good things about your day."
During my days as an elementary music teacher, I can imagine God saying, "Connie, little Jenny will be in your first-period class. She's shy. Her home life is horrid. Smile at her. Teach her happy songs. Be a bright spot in her day."
During my days as a missionary, I can imagine God saying, "Connie, Rosana, your next-door neighbor is curious about why you are in her country. She is open to hearing about Jesus. Use your broken Spanish (I'll help you recall the words) and ring the bell at her gate. Take a plate of cookies and start building a relationship."
Wouldn't that be amazing? To have God's specific, step-by-step instructions for how He wants to use us throughout every day? To have Him tell us who He is putting in our paths that need ministry, the ones He has assigned to us for that day?
When I was younger, I knew where to go when I was in an unfamiliar place by following a printed map. Now I consult my GPS, and a voice gives me turn-by-turn instructions.
Sadly, God doesn't guide us in that way today, but He HAS given us the Holy Spirit. He has instilled in us a sense of discernment. He has commanded us to love our neighbors, to serve others, to be salt and light in a dark world, to pray intercessory prayers on behalf of others, to be alert to the needs around us. I know of times in my life when the Holy Spirit has overwhelmed me with a do-it-NOW sense of urgency, and I can testify about the results. I want MORE of those times, don't you?
Galatians 5:22-23-- "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."
Galatians 5:25 -- "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."
In my heart, I believe that last phrase is the key: to keep in step with the Spirit. I believe if I do that, I will have a clearer understanding of God's step-by-step instructions for my daily life.