One of my favorite things to have close by in my time with God is a dictionary. During my senior year of high school I was given a dictionary for some sort of academic award. At the time I thought it was lame, but now I actually use it quite frequently. What that says about me, I'm not sure. But whenever God speaks something to me, I like to let the meaning of the words really sink in. If you think about it, it's really fascinating to me that God chooses language to communicate with us.
There's one word in particular whose meaning has really gone deep in me this year: jealousy.
Merriam Webster defines "jealousy" as the "state of being jealous; intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness; vigilant in maintaing or guarding something".
Seems easy to understand, right? But this one word has absolutely wrecked me, broken me, and brought me deeper into the presence of God all year long. It seems especially relevant to me in light of tomorrow being Easter.
One morning as I was spending time with God (with dictionary close by of course), I started reading the 10 Commandments in Exodus 34. At the time, I was angry and probably bitter, because it seemed as though most things I loved or wanted were being removed one by one slowly and painfully. As I started reading, I noticed verse 14 which says "you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." He then proceeds with the first commandment, which says "you shall have no other gods before me."
This God, His name is Jealous... what does that mean, I wondered? Then I started thinking about the meaning of jealousy. If God's name is Jealous, then He must be intolerant of any rivalry or unfaithfulness in me and He must be vigilant in maintaining or guarding relationship with me. I paused. And then something powerful rose up in me, as though someone flipped the breaker on in a dark, empty basement.
If God is Jealous, then He must be unrelenting in pursuing relationship with me, in gaining my affection, and making sure no one or thing can rival Him in my life. It grieves His heart when I start to pursue other things or other people in place of Him. Yet He's kind enough to re-direct me.
So, on this Easter eve, instead of choosing anger, bitterness or sadness when plans change, loss happens, or things just get taken away, I choose thankfulness. Thankfulness because there's a God who decided to step into my world. Not just once, but over and over and over again.