Thou Shalt NOT…
As a youth minister, I can tell you that nothing is quite as tough as teaching the Ten Commandments. A lot of the youth have it about half-memorized, and because of that they think they know it all. It’s a bunch of rules on stones, an old guy came down the mountain telling us what we couldn’t do, they made a really long really old really over-dramatic movie about it, blah blah blah. These teens have stopped caring about it ages ago.
It’s tough to overcome such a mountain of preconceived notions. I find that I have to start basically from ground zero, totally rebuilding and reframing how we approach it. I have one particular re-framing that I’m a big fan of. I can’t remember where I heard it, but someone said that the Ten Commandments were not so much a list of “Thou Shalt Nots” as much as guidelines that free you to live a life of real joy and real peace. Kind of like a fence along the edge of a cliff–it enables you to run and play without tumbling off the edge.
The Ten Invitations
With that in mind, I decided to go through the Ten Commandments and rewrite them. In place of commands from God, I’ve written them as invitations from God our Father. In them I hope to convey God’s calling to us to be his children, and to rest in His Love for us.
- Rest in my love, my father’s love for you, my child. I overflow with love, pride, admiration, adoration of everything you are. Don’t settle for lies. Don’t settle for anything that will love you less.
- In your time of darkness, in your time of need, cry out my name. Be like Peter, who, when the storm raged around him, cried out my name. I am here to save you, to comfort you, to guide you, if you but call my name.
- Rest, truly rest. Oh my child, you work so hard. You labor, and distract yourself, and overwhelm yourself with tasks. Lay your burden down. One day a week, just be with me. Just be yourself. Just rest.
- Take joy in your family. Call your mom, make her smile. Share a cigar on the back porch with your father. Listen to them, their wisdom, their lessons learned. And if your parents have hurt you, have abandoned you, have ripped apart the beautiful fabric of the family, I give you the divine power of forgiveness. Don’t let them break your spirit anymore.
- Fight for those beautiful moments of life. Clutch your dear friend around her shoulder when she’s struggling with mental anguish. Clutch that ultrasound picture in your hands, and let the tears of awe overcome your fears. Clutch her wrinkled, fragile, trembling fingers, and give her comfort that her she won’t spend her last days alone.
- Hold your spouse so close to you when he or she comes home today. Buy him something superfluous just because. Send her a text about a way that she’s changed your life. Forgive him for that thing he said. Talk to her about that one resentment you held for years. Work daily towards resolution, communion, his smile, her laugh.
- Trust in me. “Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?” Work hard, plan, but above all, trust. You have all that I have given you, all you need.
- Be set free. You lie to protect yourself and others, you lie to seem more interesting, you lie for gain. But you enslave yourself. Your forge chains around you. Break the chains of all the things you aren’t. Set your true self free.
- Pursue my perfect plan for you. I have a plan for you, a Vocation, that will lead you to my own heart. It will be the completion of your joy. Take joy that others have found their path to my heart, and wait for your own path.
- Be happy, be content, give thanks, joy in your blessings. Why waste your time being sad? Do good work for those things that you want, but every day take the time to truly enjoy everything you have.