“It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?’ No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.” – Deuteronomy 30:12-14
I love this verse from Deuteronomy, “the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart.” I find it reassuring. It’s easy to feel adrift and uncertain. It’s easy to get down on ourselves and replay our missteps. It’s easy to discount ourselves. Sometimes we need to be reminded that love is really closer than we think.
This verse comes near the end of the book of Deuteronomy. The word Deuteronomy literally means “second law.” In the book, foundational stories of Israel’s identity are retold. After the book of Exodus outlined the law of God, Deuteronomy comes along and repeats it again. There are some differences here and there but it largely conveys the same point. Muhammad Ali once said, “It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.”
As Deuteronomy comes to a close, God calls upon people to act in accordance with all that had been outlined (first in Exodus and then again in Deuteronomy). Consider though, that Hebraic tradition holds that there are 613 laws within the first five books of the Bible (some scholars count 199 just in Deuteronomy). This number of “do’s” and “don’ts” feels more than a bit daunting. How does one remember, much less keep, all of these laws? As I begin to feel overwhelmed, I remember this verse, “the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart.”
If Christ is correct, and love is the summation of all the law and the prophets, then this verse tells me that love is closer than you think. It already lives within your soul and it is ready to flow freely from you.
I so appreciate this verse from Deuteronomy, it reminds of A.A. Milne’s wise words spoken by Christopher Robin, “You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” The love of God does more in and through you than you know.