Monday, July 29, 2013

Merciful Monday: True Obedience

I think by now, we can all acknowledge the fact that things don’t always happen how we think they should. You may have just gotten your hair done and it started pouring right as you were about to leave the salon, but it probably didn’t stop raining just because you wanted it to. You have been pregnant and wanted to give birth to your child before a certain date, but you didn’t choose the birth date. As the senior staff member, you may have wanted your boss to assign the new big project to you, but he may have given it to someone else, despite their minimal qualifications. My point: there are so many uncertainties in life. As Christians we know that God is ordering our steps, so he controls how things happen in our lives, because as humans we are often short-sighted with our expectations, while only God sees the bigger picture. That’s why he is God!

Along the way, Jonah seemed to have forgotten who God was (and he definitely needed a reminder!). After being swallowed by a whale, living in his belly for three days, and being spit out, he surrendered to God by doing what he asked him to do, but he still had his own preconceived notions of what result his actions would have. Yes, Jonah was feeling himself a little bit! After he discovered that God had chosen to exert his mercy upon the people of Nineveh and not destroy the city, he got mad. The Bible says, “This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry.  So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people.  Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen” (Jonah 4:1-3 NLT).

Jonah disobeyed God by running away from his responsibility, yet God still spared his life by delivering him from the belly of the whale. Even so, Jonah seemed to think that he knew better than God. And, I believe he was more concerned with the potential that people would think that he wasn’t a real prophet because what he said was no longer going to happen. He had forgotten the mercy that God had granted him. God convicted Jonah saying, “Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?” (Jonah 4:11).  

Can you remember being guilty of a similar thing, forgetting past mercies because of your all-important view of yourself?

God wanted to show Jonah that there is more to obedience than doing what you are told.
The feeling behind it is what matters most. As I was a kid, when I would get in a fight with one of my siblings, my mom often forced me to apologize despite the fact that I had ZERO desire to do so. She would make me look my sibling in the eye and say the words “I’m sorry”. A fleeting “sorry” would never cut it. Then she would make us hug each other. I would always roll my eyes and try to keep my arms as limp as possible to show that I was NOT enthusiastic about this, I was only doing it out of obligation. Now that I am older, I see why she made us do this. She wanted us to get to the point where we would show that we were sorry and exhibit truly repentant emotion of our own accord. (Now, I can say that I usually don’t struggle to forgive, and I have a genuine desire to do so, so thanks mom!)

Similarly, God wants us to obey, not out of obligation or duty, but out of a genuine desire to do his will based on our RELATIONSHIP with him. Next time God leads you to do something, do it with a good attitude and a pure heart, knowing that you are just one piece of the jigsaw puzzle called life that God is slowly putting together.

“So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!” (Psalm 32:11)

Merciful Mondays: Jael

For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon you or destroy you or forget the solemn covenant he made with your ancestors.” Deuteronomy 4:31

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