Rules and Restrictions

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Rules and Restrictions

Matthew 11:28-30
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

There is a common excuse that I’ve heard against going for a mission trip like the one I did: “I can’t give up my phone.”

I heard this from more than one person.

Yes, we didn’t get access to our phones for the whole duration of the trip. Practically no internet, and any contact with family members were also limited. It depended on whether there was down time in between activities. But there was time set aside on Christmas and New Year’s Day for us to call back home.

My struggle wasn’t really with the giving up of the phone.

I’ll admit that I did complain for a while about the extra inconveniences without my phone, the chief one being that I couldn’t do my daily Duolingo and Memrise routine. The others included having to print extra documents including important information, some devotional material, bringing an alarm clock, a camera, notebooks and pens to write notes, and physical copies of second devotional that I use. (There were two copies of this devotional, since the trip was across December and January, and the books are for each quarter.)

I knew that I didn’t have too much problem with not having access to my phone. Sure, I could use it, but I could also do without it. I don’t spend a lot of time on social media, so that was not my concern.

There was another rule that I was more afraid of, and it had to do with what we had to wear: Skirts or dresses. No pants allowed.

It might come across as strange, but for me, it’s not something that I’m comfortable with. The idea of wearing a skirt, while I’m not really against it, is more of something that I’d prefer not to do. (I still don’t, by the way, because of the restriction of my movements – a more practical reason.)

I have to think back and realise that a large part of it was more to not be perceived as weak. Because skirt = girl = weak somehow, as little sense as I know that it makes. I think there’s a lot of baggage in that part of my mind that I’ve still not fully explored at this point.

But I managed, thank God for that. I realised that I would be willing to wear a skirt if it means that that’s what we are supposed to do, since it really doesn’t cost me all that much. Nothing can match the price which Christ paid on the cross. When things are framed in this context, then I see that there’s really no argument at all.

We had a list of 40 or so rules. There are rules, yes, but you don’t think of it as restrictions. The rules were for helping every one to stay focused on the ministry. And I think that they helped.

This brings me to the main point: Satan likes to tell us that the rules that God has set for us are bad, because they restrict our free will. Satan always makes us question God when God sets boundaries for us. He makes us think the restrictions – God’s rules – are chains, holding us back. Was that not how it was in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3)?

But the truth is that the boundaries are in place so that we do not get hurt. The devil lies to us and tells is that it is not the case. He is a liar (John 8:44).

Yet so many times I forget that. It’s easy to forget when sin looks so alluring. It never looks like it will lead to death. But it will (Jas 1:15).

And in the end, the one that gets hurt is me.