Have you ever noticed how sometimes one carries out one’s work effectively but without joy? There are other times when every task is exhilarating and uplifting. In both situations, the work gets done and your business progresses, but in the latter case, there’s an additional bounce in one’s step.
Building a marriage and building a business share many similarities. There are times in every marriage when the marriage functions, but it operates mechanically. Husband and wife carry out their duties and obligations but without passion. At other times, every moment of life is enhanced by the magic of the marriage.
A peculiar few verses that help us understand this dynamic appear in Exodus soon after the Ten Commandments are given at Mount Sinai.
Behold, I send an angel before you, to guard you on the way, and to bring you to the place…Take heed of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions; for my name is in him…if you obey his voice and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy to your enemies…For my angel shall go before you, and bring you to the Amorites…and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I will cut them off.
Israel has never before been told to follow an angel. We’ve been told to obey God; we’ve been told to obey the Torah and its commandments, but an angel? Never!
Furthermore, God repeatedly assures the Israelites that He will Himself be among them to protect them. In fact, He even commanded them to build a Tabernacle for Him so He could dwell in their midst. So what is with this angel?
Perhaps catching a glimpse of him elsewhere will provide some insight.
I will send an angel before you and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite…and the Jebusite to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in the midst of you; because you are a stiff-necked people…and the people heard these bad words and mourned…
The second case that sounds so similar to the first one makes clear that there is a problem. Despite the fact that the Angel is a messenger of God that will lead the Israelites to victory, the presence of the Angel conveys a lack of God’s direct intervention.
Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that there will be times when Israel will step out of line and no longer merit God’s direct involvement. At those times, His support and guidance will come indirectly. The practical results will be the same. They will still have to obey whatever the angel conveys, and they will still be protected. However, the spiritual dimension will be weakened. They will still be under the Divine wing, but the joy of being at one with God will be temporarily absent.
Both accounts of the angel are followed by details of restoring the relationship with God. We are reminded of our duties and obligations. What a blessing that even when Israel falls out of favor for a while, there is a road to restoration.
In the same way, when we fall out of love with our work, there is a way back. When we fall out of love with our marriage, there is a way back. In all these cases, the road to rebuilding and restoring is by fulfilling our duties and obligations. Instead of allowing the temporary dissatisfaction to fester into a crisis, we focus on what we ought to be doing. When Israel resumes loyalty to God and His commandments, God returns to dwell in their midst.
At work and in our marriages, the bumps in the road that strip the excitement and happiness from us are often temporary. We can mistakenly respond to the lack of joy by making poor choices and doing things that magnify the problem, or we can continue to do what needs to be done. That path leads us back to where we wish to be, living a fulfilling, harmonious life.