Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Trust and Obey

Ironically, I wasn't a huge history fan when I was a high school student. Passing tests was my only motivation for all the fact memorizing I did when I was required to endure that once a day torture. Because of my former dislike of the subject, I find it amusing in a "God sure does have a sense of humor" sort of way, that I feel compelled to study scripture in order of the historical occurrence of its events. This is not something I've ever aspired to, but without a doubt I know it's important and will continue to serve me spiritually.

Yesterday brought to an end my look at Job's life and trials, and today's passage, Genesis 12 through 15, introduces Abram with the announcement of God's command that he leave his home. These four chapters are filled with historical references to places and people who lived thousands of years ago, yet archaeologists have discovered evidence of the existence of these ancient civilizations--a fascinating additional confirmation to me of the Bible's reliability.

Abram, a man who had lived most of his life in a place called Haran, was instructed by God to move. God told him to leave his father's family, his relatives and his native country, and go to a place that he'd show him.

I have only moved seven times in my life, never relocating more than ten miles away from a prior residence. Statistics suggest that I am a few moves behind the average American who packs it all up and relocates about every five years, and I am definitely an anomaly in terms of my having stayed so close to the place of my birth. As a result, I'm quite taken by Abram's immediate, unquestioning obedience. I can only speculate, but knowing myself so well, the following questions would be in my head even if they didn't exit my mouth if God appeared to me with similar instructions. First, why? Then, where? Next, is this really necessary, you know I hate moving Lord. And finally--Leave my family? Seriously? You know how tight we are!

But not Abram. He obeyed. He packed and left. Without negotiating, interrogating, or aggravating God, he simply did as he was asked.

Yesterday, for a millisecond and a half, I was tempted to apply for a position that was advertised on the web as the "world's best job". It was described like this:

The "island caretaker" would be expected to stroll the white sands, soak up the sun, snorkel the reef, "maybe clean the pool" — and report to a global audience via weekly blogs, photo diaries and video updates. The winner, who will stay rent-free in a multimillion-dollar three-bedroom beach home complete with pool and golf cart, must be an excellent communicator and be able to speak and write in English. The job was located on an island in Australia.

I can swim. And speak and write in English. I have some pool cleaning experience, and everything else sounds doable. So...why not? Because on the off chance (what are the odds?) that I got it, I don't want to leave my family for even six weeks. I'm a hopeless homebody, what can I say?

I learned when I traveled with Discovery Jones Expeditions that two weeks was the maximum amount of time I could stand being on the road, and even that was difficult regardless of the exotic location or adventurous activities I was experiencing.

Abram's obedience inspires me. It also convicts me. God did not tell Abram where he was leading him, but Abram followed his command in a manner reminiscent of a trained puppy who obeys it's master without concern for what may be ahead. Maybe that's a terrible analogy. God forbid that I'd offend You with an unsuitable metaphor pertaining to something that is holy, but that is genuinely the impression this makes because even small children are prone to ignore or rebel against parental instruction.

Chapter 15 verse 6 says, And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.

He believed that the Lord would never lead him in a wrong direction, so he followed. Obediently.

While Leslie and David were growing up, George and I discovered the benefit of clarifying our expectations. We specifically emphasized our definition of obedience. Ask either of them and they'll say: It's doing what you're told, when you're told, WITH the right heart attitude. All three components were necessary in our opinion, and omission of any element meant partial disobedience. I still think it's a good definition, and I believe that if it blessed me as a mother when my own children were obedient, it's likely to please God when I obey him.

Today, my earnest prayer is that by faith, I will practice immediate, unquestioning, right heart attitude obedience to whatever God prompts, and that he recognizes my desire to do as he commands even if I don't know where he is leading. Because I trust.

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