Spiritual Director · April 27, 2017

Devote #23

Living by grace

Back in the day, when I was in college, I worked as a groundskeeper during the summer months to pay for my tuition. My supervisor, Bernie Johnson, was one of a kind. He was loving and compassionate. He had a good listening ear. He had so much knowledge about grass, flowers, trees, and a lot of good advice for a young man who was very green behind the ears.

One of the many things that Mr. Johnson said to me more than once was, “If you don’t use your head, you’ll have to use your feet.” It was his way of telling me to prepare for the day, the task at hand, and to think ahead of anything extra I might need to get the job done, without wasting any time having to go back to the shop for something. If I didn’t plan ahead and had to go back to the shop for that tool I forgot. I’d end up walking back to the shop and burning precious time.

I remembered that today as I read Deuteronomy 10. In the first few verses, Moses was telling the people of Israel how God told him to chisel out two flat stones for a set of Commandments, just like the ones God had given him the first time. Since Moses broke the first set of Commandments, God wanted these two flat stones to write a second set. Here’s what Moses said…

“… I chiseled two flat stones like the ones I broke. Then I carried the stones up the mountain…” —Deuteronomy 10:3

I guess, Mr. Johnson wasn’t the first person to say, “If you don’t use your head, you’ll have to use your feet”,  God did.

For a brief moment in time, Moses lost his head. When he came down the mountain the first time, with the first set of Commandments, and saw the people bowing before the golden calf, he lost his mind. He didn’t think it through. He stopped thinking. He threw down the two flat stones God had written the Commandments on and shattered them.

I’m not sure why he just couldn’t have set them down on the ground, but in that moment, he didn’t use his head, and ended up using his feet, walking all the way back up the mountain to get a second set of Commandments.

Like me, you’ve probably said things you wished you would’ve never said, right? Like me, you may have stepped into a situation you weren’t invited to step into, but did anyway, right? Like me, you probably understand “If you don’t use your head, you’ll have to use your feet” more than you’d like to admit, right?

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today

Get your walking shoes on! Do the right thing! Next time, think it through! Take a deep breath! Smile! Live by grace!

Father, Thank you for second chances, even if it means using our feet the second time. Forgive us, renew us and lead us, In Jesus name we ask this, Amen.

—Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

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Mark was Spiritual Director for VdC from 2016 to 2019. He's written many of the devotions, especially the Devote and Affirm series, found on this website.