Little by Little
I have enjoyed the sitcom Modern Family. I think it is smartly written, well-casted and quite funny. There is an episode where the Dunphy family is leaving for a vacation in Hawaii. Father, Phil, has set the house alarm, and the family only has 15 seconds to gather luggage and exit the house. In an effort to get them out the door quickly, he repeats this phrase as a mantra of sorts, “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.” When I first heard the phrase, I just thought this was part of Phil’s silly, convoluted way of thinking, but after thinking about it for a while, I could see its value. When I’m in a hurry, I often make mistakes in my haste.
This time of quarantine has felt a bit like we have been holding our breath. We are hearing word that restrictions are slowly being lifted, and we can begin to get back to normal or, as many believe, begin to establish our “new normal.” Some may feel like jumping back out into society like a racehorse bolting out the gate. Maybe there is something to this “slow is smooth and smooth is fast” mindset.
As we begin to re-enter community life, I have thought about a portion of scripture from Deuteronomy. This is following Moses’ presentation of the ten commandments to the Children of Israel and preparation for entering the Promised Land.
“These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.” (Deuteronomy 6:1-2).
Our God is a God of order, and maybe we should take that cue from this episode in the life of the Children of Israel. But if you jump ahead into the next chapter of Deuteronomy, there is a little-known bit of instruction the Lord gives for entering the Promised Land. The Lord pledges to remove opposing armies from their new home, but not all at once. God’s reason for this is that the enemy armies have kept the wild animal population down. Therefore, for the Israelites own safety as they get acclimated into their new surroundings, these rivals will serve a purpose.
“Do not be terrified by them, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God. The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you.” (Deuteronomy 7:21-22)
“Little by little”… good advice for each of us as quarantine restrictions is lifted. Slow re-entry serves a purpose. Don’t get me wrong, I’m tired of wearing a mask, avoiding contact, and feeling a little confined, but there is sound thought in the idea of taking this slowly.
As believers, we reflect the Lord in all we do. Christ was obedient to the laws of the land when he said, “give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s…” (Matthew 22:21). Let us follow in his footsteps as we all enter this next chapter.
written by Major Lauren Hodgson, Spiritual Life Development Department, USA East