The book of Exodus recounts the story of Israel’s deliverance from bondage. In my study of Exodus this year, I have also discovered new freedoms. I’ve learned to adopt more flexible patterns of thought, to view personal religious practices as gifts rather than restrictions, and to let God handle things I can’t control.
1. Freedom from restrictive thought patterns
Stubborn Pharaoh couldn’t overcome his preconceptions and the weight of his prior decisions. In the midst of escalating plagues, he dug in his heels to the detriment of his nation.
After leaving Egypt, the Israelites struggled to utilize their newfound freedom. They wallowed in false dilemmas, artificially limiting their perceived options. They leaned too heavily on Moses to make decisions on their behalf.
I learned to watch for signs of a hardened heart, to identify additional alternatives when I become frustrated, and to stop seeking advice when it’s time for me to simply make a decision.
Here are some blog posts which helped me think less restrictively:
2. Freedom to give personalized gifts to God
President Russell M. Nelson shared that Sabbath observance became more joyful and less difficult for him when he recognized that it constituted a sign to God of his love and devotion. (See “The Sabbath Is a Delight,” General Conference, April 2015 and Exodus 31:13.) As I pondered the fourth commandment, I realized that I can be more intentional about choosing how I will invest in my relationship with God on His holy day.
As I pondered Moses’ two forty-day fasts, I learned that the same principle can apply to fasting. Rather than adhere to rigid rules about frequency and duration of fasting, I can view the practice as a personal gift to God and think about what kind of gift I would like to give.
Here are some of the blog posts which helped me improve my approach to these religious practices:
3. Freedom to let go of guilt and receive God’s grace
Why was the altar made of unhewn stone? I think it symbolized how we should approach God. We don’t need to sculpt and polish ourselves before turning to Him. We come as we are, and we let Him change us for the better.
He expects us to do what we can to make ourselves more holy, and He gives us instructions to do so. He also expects us to make restitution for our mistakes to the degree possible. But we can’t perfect ourselves and we can’t fix every problem we have caused. There comes a point when we need to let go, stop trying to do more than we can, and let Him do the rest.
Here are some blog posts which helped inspire me to be more trusting of God’s mercy: