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Category Archives: Obedience

Slaves by Choice

“Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?  Then I said, ‘Here am I; send me.’” –Isaiah 6:8

In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers draws on the prophet Isaiah’s encounter before the throne to illustrate God’s manner of calling believers to service.  As Chambers points out, the Creator of all things does not come to us “with compulsions and pleadings.”  Isaiah was seeking the Lord and, in His presence, heard a general call:  “Who will go for us?”  In conscious freedom, Isaiah answered.

If we are serious about searching out God and knowing Him more, we should expect to find something.  And we should not be surprised to hear that “still small voice” asking, “Who will go for us?”  Our ears must be listening for this question; our eyes open to the awesome majesty of the One issuing the call; our lips ready to respond to it with delight.

Isaiah had chosen to pursue God.  In making that choice, the prophet understood what had to follow once he came within earshot of the call:  his answer.  The paradoxical nature of the choice we make to surrender our lives to Jesus lies in the realization that our very choice—if genuine—leads to consequences we can do nothing to reject, sidestep, or ignore.  Of course, while they limit our freedom (for we know we must obey), these consequences enable us to experience unspeakable joy—unspeakable not only in the sense that words can’t describe its wonder but also because we can’t specifically know beforehand the blessings God intends to bestow.

It is sweet irony that we desire—and willingly choose—to become slaves to the most gracious of Masters.

 
 

Dreaming and Doing

“Dreaming about a thing in order to do it properly is right; but dreaming about it when we should be doing it is wrong.” – Oswald Chambers

Oswald Chambers explores the fine line between taking the time to discover God’s will and using this pursuit as an excuse for procrastination due to a lack of faith, courage, or desire.  How often do I think of a good idea but then balk at working to bring about its actual fulfillment?  It’s not that I stumble as I begin to move in response to God’s prompting.  That wouldn’t be too bad . . . forward progress at least.  It’s that I don’t move at all . . . like I am nurturing a secret hope that mere imaginings at the threshold of faith would be sufficient.  But God says, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”  He bids us to love not “with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (John 14:15; 1 John 3:18)

Despite the noble goals to which it aspires, simple dreaming is thin soup compared to the sweet spiritual food that nourishes the followers of Christ—those who walk in His steps.  “Dreaming after God has spoken is an indication that we do not trust Him,” writes Chambers.  To truly follow, we must wake and rise.

We might look to the example of Joseph for inspiration here.  In the first two chapters of Matthew’s gospel, Joseph encounters God through the medium of dreams no less than four times.  The passage describing the birth of Jesus in this account is basically a story of Joseph’s faith and obedience.  The man makes what he feels is a good decision to divorce his betrothed quietly.  It’s a decision reflecting a balance of justice and kindness.  Yet after hearing the angel of the Lord in a dream, he doesn’t just listen . . . he changes his mind in faith and embraces the shame along with the hope that Mary’s child is indeed the promised Savior.

Joseph continues to hear from God in dreams, and his responses take his family from Bethlehem to Egypt . . . then back toward Judea and on to Galilee.  We can safely assume, I think, that Joseph wrestled a bit with these decisions.  They involved, after all, matters of life and death.  But we can also assume that he spent little time looking to the Scriptures for an explanation once he received his instructions.  Joseph, no doubt, acted without the benefit of God connecting the dots between prophecy and fulfillment as He did for us through Matthew.  In Joseph’s case, God spoke in dreams, and, each time, the dreamer woke to follow in faith.