Debbie Salter Goodwin
Who Ordered Sour Lemonade?
My mother had an aluminum cast lemon squeezer that she used to make lemonade on the hot, muggy days of my early childhood in Houston, Texas. Nothing was better in Texas heat than mother’s lemonade. She seemed to know the right combination of sugar and juice and the ability to hand stir it long enough for the two opposites to marry into a perfect refreshment for a summer day.
I’m glad they make lemonade powders today. My hand-squeezed lemonades turn out more sour than sweet. I keep the sugar bowl handy when I make lemonade! However, when the lemonade has already been poured over ice, stirring in more sugar is an exercise in futility.
Sometimes I think that the Israelites on their long trek through sand-blown heat and sun-blasted days is a picture of someone who got sour lemonade when they really wanted sweet tea.
How easy it is to draw our own conclusions about things. If something goes our way, it is a blessing. If it doesn’t, it must be a curse.
God defines the difference between blessing and curse differently, and it all depends on obedience.
However, I fear too many want blessings to depend on something different. We want to get by on the good words we say about God and to Him. In exchange for them, we expect His good things, His blessings.
When I examine that process more closely, I realize that it leads to worshiping a false image of God. God isn’t an arrogant, self-consumed, egotistical Being whose goodness must be stroked by people who cower before Him in order to enjoy His good favor. That’s the picture of mythology.
Instead, it is God’s great desire to pour blessing upon blessing on us. He doesn’t wait until birthdays and Christmas. He bursts with unrestrained joy to use His resources to give us the life He always intended we live.
So what happens?
Just like the Israelites, we want to define our blessings. We want them designed according to our specs. We want them to replace hard things.
But a blessing isn’t something that makes life easier, a blessing is God’s resources come to fill openings that obedience makes. They are not rewards for good behavior. They are the brick and mortar for the life God wants us to have. We don’t obey to get blessed. We obey to get life.
The opposite of that exchange is curse. When there is no obedient opening for God’s blessing, we have chosen the opposite of blessing, which God calls curse. This isn’t some combination of words He brings down on people where all kinds of bad things happen. A curse is what we choose when we refuse the gift of obedience.
Interesting enough, we usually connect curses to other people’s rebellion, immorality, and sin. Couldn’t be ours. It’s all their fault that we have sour lemonade. And we wait for God to sweeten the drink.
Moses stood before the group of obstinate, complaining, hard-to-manage people after a litany of blessings and curses that depended on their choice, not God’s. He told them how their choice had life-altering implications. He reminded them that to choose blessing, they must choose obedience. And not a sham of obedience. Not lip service. But an obedience that so married their heart to the heart of God that nothing less interested them.
Isn’t it the same today? We stand between our own versions of Egypt and Promise. God, Himself, invites us to promise, but the RSVP is our obedience. Not just in our heads, but in our hearts.
The prayer that brings blessing is simple, treacherous, emptying, but full of promise for the life God intended we live:
Lord, not my will but yours.
I choose You!