Thursday, February 16, 2012

When We Don't Like It

There is something to be said for obedience no matter the circumstances. When the call of God comes and we respond in faithfulness there is a closeness in our relationship with God that is rivaled by little else. Being obedient is easy when we like what it is God is calling us to, or what we are called to seems to be easy. This is obedience that should be celebrated. What about when the call is hard, and the task is difficult, and we simply do not really like what God is calling us to?

Following and trusting God especially when it is difficult and we do not like it is when obedience really kicks in. I think of some of the people called in the Scriptures, Moses was reluctant and did not want to transition from the Desert of obscurity to the challenger of Pharaoh. Isaiah was convinced God has someone better to be a prophet confronting the people. Even Jesus himself wrestled with God in the Garden asking if there was another way than for him to die on the cross. In the end of these and other accounts of difficult calls the response is the same, "Not my will but thy will." In his book The Great Divorce C.S. Lewis reminds the reader there are two ways people respond to God, those who say my will be done on earth and those who say thy will be done. If obedience through the hard times was easy everyone would do it. The reality is we are so willing to walk our own path instead of the one God is beckoning us down.

What we do when we do not like the situation is more revealing of our relationship with God than when we like what is going on. Take for another example Peter. In the relative safety of wander the Galilean countryside he was able to be very obedient and identify with Jesus, but in the courtyard of the high priest we have a different story. Often we are way more harsh to Peter for his disobedience than we should be. Many of us would have followed suit. I do not like to admit that, but to say I would do anything else would be wild speculation. Thankfully, I do not have to stand in the courtyard of the high priest as Jesus faces trail. I do however have to live my life with the ups and downs it brings my way. The question is not what will I do when I like what is happening and where God is calling me. No, the question is what will I do when I am standing in the place of not liking where God is calling me.

Let's see, I have thrown prophets, Apostles and Jesus into this mix, along with C.S. Lewis. So there is little harm in one more. Look at Jonah. God's call was clear. Jonah's disobedience was clear. The story of Jonah has a tragic ending. Jonah's worst fear comes true, the Ninevehites repent. Then instead of celebrating in the work of God done through obedience, Jonah goes to the edge of the city and whines. In the end Jonah is a bitter man not seeing the glory God called him to be a part of. I wonder how often we miss what God is doing and going to do because we are preoccupied with the ways things have been that we like?

I do not find a God in the Scriptures who keeps things as they have always been. This is true of communities and of individuals. Our obedience to God is celebrated and rewarded with greater opportunity for obedience. Usually the greater opportunity requires us to move into territory we would rather not. Rarely are we called from comfort to comfort. More often we are called from comfort to risk. This is the call of God that drips with one simple question, "Who's will is to be done today?"

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