It’s easy to get stuck in a rut.                                        (by the way, click to the right to follow)

Have you ever done something for so long, you’re not really sure why you do it any more.  That’s the classic example of a rut.

There’s a story about a young newly wed woman that is going to bake a ham for her new husband.  She follows her mom’s recipe exactly and the husband love it.  Says it’s the best ham he ever tasted.  After dinner as they are cleaning up together, he notices some extra pieces of ham in the top of the trash can, uncooked.  Surprised, he asks his wife what that’s about.  She says “I don’t know, that’s just how my mom always did it”.  Logically he suggests asking her mom the best question… Why?

When she asks her mom, she gets the same answer… I don’t know, that’s how my mom did it.  So the young woman now calls her Grandma to ask why.  Her Grandma says, when she was a young wife, she had a very small oven.  The only way to cook the ham was to cut the ends off so it would fit.

As a result of one person’s creative thinking to solve a problem, two generations continue to use the same solution to solve a problem that no longer existed.  This is a classic example of continuing to do something but having no concept what the purpose behind that something really is.

The same thing happens in religion… daily.  People have ruts in their religious practices where the do a thing and don’t really know WHY they do that thing anymore.  But the sad thing is, many just keep doing it.

In Zechariah, we see that the people of Bethel were in a similar rut.  For seventy years, they had continued to do a thing because their forefathers had done that thing.  But they no longer understood the reason or purpose behind that thing.  God challenged them about their rut… “When you fasted and mourned in the fifth month and in the seventh, for these seventy years, was it for me that you fasted?” (Zech 7:5)

God was challenging them to think of the reason and purpose behind their actions.  Unfortunately for them, they did not receive God’s word well.  “They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by his Spirit throughthe former prophets. Therefore great anger came from the Lord of hosts.” (Zech 7:12)  As a result, he scattered them into other nations they did not know and left their land desolate.

It is so easy for us to fall into a routine that at one time, made sense and had a purpose… but now it’s only a rut.  And them sometimes we get so committed to this rut, that we can’t imagine getting out of it… into the unknown.  But truly asking Why and then honestly listening to the answer… could save you from years of agony.

Take time to consider WHY you do the things you do.  Is there a reason or a purpose?  Does it get you closer to God?  So it serve Him or His people?  Or are you only doing it because that’s just how it’s always been done.  So many things that ‘religious’ people of all faiths do… they do more out of tradition than out of actual faith development.

(Today’s blog pointed out the problem… Part 2 will discuss the solution)

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