If you grew up going to Sunday School like I did, you are pretty familiar with the Israelites and their history. If you didn’t, I offer a very brief summary. God chose them to be His very own people through whom He would show the entire world that He alone was God. A covenant was made; God promised them many blessings conditional on their obedience. In short, they failed. They proved to be human; with all the flaws and sins we share as part of the human race.
One really distinctive and repeated characteristic they displayed was complaining. God parted the Red Sea so they could cross on dry land and destroyed the enemies pursuing them, and within days they were complaining. God had delivered them from 400 years of slavery by showing His might through ten miraculous plagues on Egypt, and one month later they were wishing they had stayed in Egypt because there was more food. He provided manna, food from His very own hand every day for forty years, and still, they rebelled and wanted to go back to Egypt.
We hear these stories, shake our heads, and wonder how it is possible that these people could be so blind. But I think I do the same thing. And maybe you do, too.
The salvation offered us in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is meant to be much more than a pardon for our sins. That in itself is a miracle of grace, but there is more. He gives Himself, His very own Spirit to live in us, to remake us from the inside out. He calls us new creations animated by His resurrected life rather than our old nature of death. That means change. The change is not a product of our own good efforts, but it does require our cooperation with His Spirit inside us.
He will convict us about an area of our life, a sin He wants us to abandon, and we need to hear Him and obey. But all too often we do what those ancient people did. We whine. We complain. We feel He’s being way too hard on us and expecting far more than is reasonable. We want what we want, and then we want Him to bless our choice rather than His. We will ask Him to bless our decision when we haven’t even asked for His guidance in making that decision. We sometimes wish things were the way they used to be (in Egypt) before God had a claim on our lives. We are too blinded by our selfishness to see that we were in slavery to sin and God has rescued us from that life so we can serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness.
He will give us the power to obey, but we must be willing. We must allow Him to have access to every corner of our hearts and lives. We need him to speak life and wholeness and correction into the most public, private, remarkable, and ordinary parts of our existence. He will help us do ALL things for His glory.
Do you feel He asks too much? Would you like Him to be more reasonable? Fortunately, He loves us too much to be reasonable. There is nothing reasonable about the love He demonstrated at Calvary, and there is nothing reasonable in the provision and grace He offers us every moment of every day. Can we begin to abandon ourselves to Him in ways that are beyond our comfortable limits? Can we begin to remember that His ways and thoughts are higher than ours, and He truly does know what’s best? Can we begin to be willing to hear His voice and obey what He says? Can we turn down the noise and give Him a chance to speak? Can we help each other? Can we try?
His Spirit is powerful but quiet. He waits for us to choose Him over ourselves. He will not force His will on us, but when we choose His will, He will empower us to do whatever He has asked as we continually depend on Him. Let’s not sell Him short. Let’s not give Him less than He deserves. Let’s take one more step in obedience to what He is saying to us. He waits to meet us there.
Exodus 14-16; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:1-10; Colossians 3:1-17;
Luke 1:74-75; 1 Corinthians 10:31