After my daughter and her family moved to Hawaii, I was charged with a task. I have had the privilege (through the first week of October) to keep her puppy, who is under vet care to avoid the quarantine customary for pets moving to the Hawaiian islands. This “puppy,” however, is a 100 pound Rottweiler named Daisy. Daisy is a lovable, playful dog, and it is because of her that I have come to have a new appreciation for commandments.

Daisy, you see, is trained and is incredibly smart. She is very capable of heeding commands, but she also has impulse control issues. Maybe that’s why I love her so much and why our daughter thought it was such a good idea that I get the honor of caring for her … I know the commandments, yet I have impulse control issues, as well. Commandments don’t come easy for me. I usually want to do things my way. I am prone to rebellion, and like Daisy, I am prone to do things that can get me in trouble.

Like Daisy, as well, I can feel guilty. When I came in and found a box torn up in the den, all it took was the simple question, “What did you do?” to send Daisy under the table with her nub as low as it could go. When I fail (which is much more often than I would like to admit), I usually am looking for a table to be under when I sense God asking me, “What did you do?”

But the good thing about the commandments of God is that they are designed for my well-being and to bring me to a new place in my relationship with God and with my brothers and sisters in God’s world. Instead of thinking about commandments as being those things that constrain me, I have learned to see the commandments of God as the gifts that free me to be the child of God I was created to be.

Michelangelo, the great sculptor and artist of the 16th century, is perhaps best known for things such as the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and his sculpture of David (along with many other works). In sculpting, the quote that is attributed to Michelangelo is that

every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.

I think perhaps this is how I have come to view the commandments. Whether we are talking about the 10 commandments of Exodus and Deuteronomy or whether we are talking about Jesus’s recitation of the great commandments (as found in Leviticus and Deuteronomy) to love God and one another, I have come to see the commandments as God’s sculpting of my life to be the child of God I was created to be. And the other part of that reality is the realization that God loved me enough to sculpt that life just for me. God looked at the block of stone that is my life … my sin … my impulsive behavior … my inability to see others as God sees them … and is working to cut away everything that is not my authentic, God-given self.

Yes, commandments are hard. Just like the lovable granddog, I am learning more about commandments each day. But my prayer of thanksgiving is that God loves me through each step as I follow the commandments to love as God loves us!

Live in Grace!

Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourselfAll the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

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