Sunday Meditation: Radical Obedience
Recently The Lord has laid two Bible stories on my heart. These stories have never really been that significant to me before now, and upon first glance, have absolutely nothing to do with each other…but as I’m learning the longer I walk with Jesus, He has a way of speaking to you differently every single you time you read a story (His Word is pretty awesome like that…it’s LIVING, after all! See Hebrews 4:12!). Anyway, He’s placed these two stories not only on my heart…but they keep crossing my path, too. You know, when God has a message for you, He makes sure you get it (and that you know He wants you to get it)! I’ve been wrestling with some fear and anxiety about my health recently, as well as, quite honestly, some depression and hopelessness about my constantly deteriorating body. I’ve never really felt like giving up…until now. I’m just so, so, so tired…a tired that no amount of sleep can alleviate. That no amount of days on the couch can help. This tired is in your bones…in your soul…in your spirit. It’s a tired that makes you long for the day when you can FEEL The Savior’s embrace…when you can walk hand in hand with Daddy God and dance and run and sing FREE from all pain and sickness…it’s a tired that makes life so unbearable that anymore, most days, showering is just out of the question. It’s a bag of mixed emotions for me right now: it’s very humbling, terrifying, and shocking all at once to literally watch your body fall apart before your very eyes. There’s really nothing else like it. And the ONLY thing I can do to keep my spirits up (and that means not crying 24/7) is to remind myself of the 4 little words that have forever changed my life: it’s not about me. Even on my WORST days, when I’m deep in the pits of Anna despair, I remind myself of this, and almost instantly I’m fine emotionally. I can’t think about my health…my life…my situation. Because it’s nothing but depressing. Not to be depressing, I’m just trying to be real and raw and honest. Eating is quite the challenge for me anymore, and eating without getting sick…well…that’s just out of the question (shameless plug: please take care of your pancreas and liver—lower your fats, particularly animal fats. You really do NOT want these to go down, trust me. It’s literal hell on earth. And if you DO HAVE a healthy pancreas and liver currently, please do everything in your power to keep it that way—for your sake AND mine…I would give anything for a healthy liver and pancreas). But back to the point (I digress, sorry…).
The two stories that have been on my heart recently are 1) The story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22, and 2) The story of Joshua and the preparation for/battle of Jericho in Joshua chapters 5 and 6. If you’re not familiar with these stories (or maybe haven’t studied them deeply…or maybe you’re just a little rusty!), in the first, Abraham, who had been praying for a son for YEARS and finally got one (Isaac) when he was 100 (not joking he was actually 100 years old—see Genesis 21:5!), was now being commanded by God to climb up onto the top of a mountain and sacrifice his beloved son that he had waited a lifetime and half for (spoiler alert: he didn’t end up actually having to do it…it was a test of faith to see if he would be obedient to God’s command…but I’m getting ahead of myself!). The second story, with Joshua and the Israelites, describes the bizarre battle strategy that God gave Joshua in order to conquer Jericho—put your best men at the back of the army, don’t draw any of your weapons, and just march around the city 7 times a day for 7 days…on the 7th day, on the 7th time around the city, give a loud shout to The Lord, and you will overtake Jericho. Wait, huh?!
Again, like I said, being a pastor’s kid, I’ve heard these stories hundreds if not thousands of times each…yet I never not once made a connection or saw the similarity between these two stories until this week. Are you seeing it? In both of these stories God is asking his chosen ones to do something crazy…something totally absurd…something that might even be portrayed as idiotic or dangerous. But through his servants’ obedience to his call—no matter how crazy it is—He is glorified throughout all the land (Joshua 6:22).
Now, we’re obviously inclined to ask, “Why did God do things this way? Why did he have to test their faith like that in such a painful and scary way? Why couldn’t He have made it easy?” Because He wants a relationship with us, and a relationship can’t exist without TRUST. He wants us to trust Him with everything—even our own lives and that of our children—so much so that we are willing to lay down before His feet, saying “Here I am, Your sacrifice.” At the end of both of these stories, God’s greatness is professed throughout the land, and both Joshua and Abraham are heralded not only as heroes, but as God’s faithful ones. What a win-win!
So what’s the point for us? How can we apply this to our own lives? Well, let me answer this by first asking you a question: is there something in your life that you’ve been clinging onto, thinking it was what was keeping you above water? Is there a wall you’ve built around your Jericho to protect yourself, thus ending up trying to be your own savior? Have you felt led by God to “lay your Isaac down”—to let go of that thing that seems absolutely impossible to let go of because it’s practically become your identity? It’s scary, it’s stressful, it’s uncomfortable…and it’s CRAZY from an earthly point of view. What God is asking me to do is the exact OPPOSITE of what I would need to do for this to work! Maybe so, but you’re forgetting one thing: GOD is in control…not you. And God can bring anything out of anything. If He’s leading you, go. Do. Be. Stay. Whatever it is, do it. You’re never wrong or crazy when you’re making decisions based on the Holy Spirit’s leading. Jesus is ordaining our steps…no matter how crazy His instructions sound, take that step! God is glorified and we are SET FREE when we walk in obedience. Because what so many of us realize, is this thing we’re clinging onto to stay afloat…this “security blanket,” if you will, is actually the thing that is keeping us from enjoying TRUE, FULL freedom in Christ. Our security blanket is just chains in disguise. We’re putting our trust in IT instead of in HIM. IT is transient, mortal, limited…HE is eternal, everlasting, omnipotent. Jesus came so we could have life, but not just any life—ABUNDANT life (John 10:10). He wants us to be free. Free of fear, free of addictions, free of obsessions, free of all our chains, whatever they may look like.
So here’s your challenge: take that step, no matter how scared you are or crazy it seems and feels. God knows what He’s doing! There’s a book I heard of not long ago, and it’s titled something like “The 10 Second Rule to Following Jesus.” The entire book can be summed up in one sentence: basically when you feel God leading you to do something, do it within 10 seconds before you have time to talk yourself out of it. Because that’s what we usually do, isn’t it? When God asks us to do something a little bit *gulp* uncomfortable, we drag our feet and mull it around in our brains until we can come up with at least 15 reasons why we SHOULDN’T listen to what He’s telling us. Not a good action plan, friends. Remember who’s authoring your book—it’s not you. And it’s not about you…it’s about Him. He knows what’s best for you, and He knows the best way to accomplish that. Give Him control. Lay down at His feet. Submit your all to Him and His will—He will be glorified…and you will be F R E E.
Scriptures to meditate on:
~Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess. —Deut. 5:33
~Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. —James 1:22
~Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. —1 Cor. 15:58
~Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. —1 John 3:21-22
~For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. —Romans 5:19
~Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. —James 4:7
~Then he said to them all: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. —Luke 9:23
~For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. —Rom. 8:14