“These are your instructions for eating this meal: Be fully dressed, wear your sandals, and carry your walking stick in your hand. Eat the meal with haste, for this is the Lord’s Passover. (Exodus 12:11)
Relate: I used to be an addict. It is closing in on two years now since the last time I indulged in my addiction so I would like to say the habit has been kicked, but it is not really a matter of willpower or dedication that has caused me to stay away from this particular vise. No, I am certain that if given the opportunity I would find myself right back to square one in a matter of minutes. You see, my addiction is eating while driving. I can’t keep it quiet any longer. I am a compulsive car eater. At least, I was. It used to be practically impossible for me to drive without having something to eat. There was almost always a bag of chips or some other sort of snack sitting in, or just behind, the passenger seat. If not, I either needed to get something else to nibble on quick or I would be stopping at a drive through. Every time I got behind the wheel. Yes, every… single… time… I would fall prey to this compulsion. I was horrible.
Please tell me I am not alone. Are you guilty too? Do you ever drive with your knees because whatever you’re eating is messy enough that if you don’t use both hands it will end up spilling everywhere? This used to describe me in good weather. If the weather was bad enough, I would pull over after getting my drive through poison and pretend that the McDonalds or Taco Bell I had just stopped at was really a Sonic. Looking back, even with this occasional precaution, I have to say that my guardian angel has got to be very good at his job. Fortunately, I don’t make things so hard on him anymore. At least, not in that way. There are other dangers here certainly but the odds of me getting into an accident because I just took advantage of a drive through are virtually zero. For one, I don’t have a car here in Turkey. (Speed the Light, please take note) Even if I did, there are no drive throughs in Gaziantep. Back in Istanbul, a city of over 14 million people, I know of two. Actually, I only know of one, but when I mentioned this to others living there they told me there is another one in a different location.
Eating is such a different thing in Middle Eastern culture than it was in America. For us it was a necessity or perhaps an addiction. Here it is an event. There is no such thing as a quick meal. If you are going to feel rushed when you eat, then you will simply wait to eat until you have time to do it right. Eating is far less about simply an intake of nutrition and far more of an opportunity for fellowship. Eating is ritual.
Respond: That is why I think what God was commanding the soon-to-be-liberated Israelites to do through Moses must have been so foreign to their sensibilities. Be dressed to go. Keep your shoes on and your walking stick handy. Eat quick. In modern day parlance God would be saying, you’ve got a road trip coming up. Pack your bags and load the car. Buckle the kids in the back, put the key in the ignition, then hand out the sandwiches. Most of us in the West would be like, “sure thing. No problem.” We have no idea how foreign this must have felt for the people of Israel.
For the Hebrews, obedience left no room for hesitation. For months they had been waiting for their freedom while God unleashed one plague after another on their oppressive neighbors. No more waiting. God through Moses was telling them, “This is it. The time has come.” I don’t know about them but I know for me it is always so much easier to obey when I’m not really putting myself on the line. Its easy to obey when the results of my obedience are long term or down the road somewhere. When my obedience calls for God to intervene immediately, when His reputation (and mine as His servant) are on the line, it is a bit more difficult. But God doesn’t just call us to casual obedience. He wants us to obey with expectancy. He expects of us a drive through obedience.
You have promised Your soon return. You have promised freedom. Help me to live ready. There is a moment when You will call me home. Help me to live in expectation. There is a time when You will call me to action. Help me to be ready. Then when that call comes, help me to be unhesitatingly obedient.