I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. (Amos 5:21)

When Ethan and I were little, we used to have competitions all the time—anything from racing to the car, board games, or seeing who could jump the highest on the trampoline. The thing about my brother, however, was that right when he realized he was going to lose he would change the rules. Sometimes it was as simple as shifting words to fit his needs or adding in a new rule he “forgot” to tell me about. No matter what the change was, it would always result in him winning.

The words of Amos here are harsh ones. He was called by God to prophesy to the Israelites and that meant, in part, being brutally honest about their sins. There were many things that Israel had to address in order to get right with God. They had lost sight of the real heart of what God had for them. In short, they had changed the rules. They turned these beautiful moments with God into guidelines that had to be followed so it looked like they came out winning.

Now this isn’t on the same scale, but when Ethan changed the rules, I remember feeling frustrated. I remember that I couldn’t wait until he grew out of it. At some point he did. At some point he realized that being present in those moments mattered more than rules.

Be present with God first so everything else can follow.

Callie Kemmerer is a wife, fur mama, alumni of Kingswood University, and lover of Jesus who is striving after God’s heart and will each day.

© 2020 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.

Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.