When I was in the 7th grade, my dad invited me to accompany him on a trip to Ecuador. Although he was going to help rebuild a church, I was going just for fun. During that trip, I was only able to communicate with the lovely Ecuadorians through a translator. Nonetheless, I fell in love with the people and the Spanish language. As a result, when I began taking Spanish classes the following year, I did not approach my coursework as drudgery. Rather, I found it to be a wonderful endeavor that would enable me to talk directly with my new friends. Due to my love for Spanish, two concrete things happened: (1) although I regularly made B’s in high school, I always made A’s in Spanish, and (2) I never stopped taking Spanish until I graduated from college – I even majored in it!
My brother also took Spanish from the 8th grade until graduating from high school. He did not, however, go to a Spanish-speaking country prior to or during his Spanish classes. In contrast with me, he (1) only made one B during one 6 weeks period in high school, and it was in Spanish, and (2) he never took one Spanish course in college.
Why did I do so well in Spanish and continue studying it for the long haul while my brother saw it just as another class? I fell in love with the language because I fell in love with the people who spoke it. My brother, on the other hand, merely liked it.
Today, in Deuteronomy 30, after Moses gave Israel the commands to follow, he says,
Now what I am commanding you today
is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.
Not too difficult? Really, Moses? The laws take up 22 of the 34 chapters in Deuteronomy! They are as expansive as the rules of Spanish syntax and grammar!
But, Moses could say this because he knew that the Lord would change their hearts to love him. And, in so doing, obedience would not be “too difficult” because it would be based on loving the lawgiver. In verse 6, we read,
The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts
and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him
with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.
How much loving someone changes our willingness to follow them! I spent 9 years dutifully studying Spanish because I loved the people who spoke it – not because I conjured up a love for it on my own.
Oh, that we ask the Lord to circumcise our hearts so that we may obey him as a natural response to loving him! For, in doing so, our obedience would not be drudgery, but rather the wonderful endeavor of being in a loving relationship!