Monday, April 20, 2015

Reluctant Obedience

            Like the commercial with the ‘most interesting man in the world,’ I think Moses is one of the most interesting men in the Bible.
- He was adopted by a king.
- Raised in a palace with all the royalty that went with that.
- Killed a man, and then ran from his crime.
- Hid out, and then started a humble life as a shepherd in the desert.
- Was called by God in the most dramatic way, from a burning bush.
            Moses saw the burning bush and knew it is God speaking to him. He took off his shoes because he knew he was standing on holy ground. Then, when God told him what to do, Moses argued with God! Not once or twice, Moses has five excuses as to why he didn’t want to do what God called him to do.
            I have often said to myself and others, “If God would just send me a burning bush, then I could be sure of what He wants me to do.” But the truth is, if God asked me to something I thought was impossible, I would probably argue too. Of course, it is ridiculous to tell the God who created the universe that something is impossible. Since He can do anything and the Bible says all things are possible when He gives us the strength to do them.
            Moses’ excuses to God as to why He called the wrong guy to lead two million slaves out of Egypt to the Promised Land are interesting.
            First, He tells God he is not qualified for the job. This seems to be true because at the time Moses was tending sheep. Then again, maybe herding sheep was the right skill, since he would be herding people for many years.
            Then, he says he doesn’t know enough to do the job. As an example he tells God he doesn’t even know His name.
Third, showing his pessimistic side, Moses says he doesn’t believe he can do what God wants because he doesn’t believe the Israelites will follow him.
            Then, grasping for straws, Moses tells God this can’t be his calling because he doesn’t speak well. This one is a little hard to believe because he was raised in the palace and probably had the finest education a king could provide. (And certainly in the movie, Charlton Heston had no problem delivering eloquent speeches!)
            Finally, Moses tells God he doesn’t want to do it and He should find someone else to do this huge job.
            We know from reading the book of Exodus God did not take no for an answer from Moses. He equipped Moses to do everything He called him to do and Moses liberated two million people from slavery in Egypt. It is an amazing story.
            Do we use these excuses with God? I’m not qualified to teach kids at church or home school my kids because I am not a teacher. I don’t have a teaching degree.
            I often think I don’t have enough knowledge to do the task. I need to read, study, ask questions and take a class before I feel I have enough knowledge to do something.
            Number three is a biggy. We (I) just flat out don’t believe God. We say we do, but we don’t trust that He can do what He says He will do.
            I wrote about giving my calling to someone else here, when I knew God was asking me to do it. That was not one of my proudest moments.
            We don’t want to do it. We don’t want to stay home with our kids, when all our friends have fun, fulfilling careers. We don’t want to work outside the home, when we would rather stay home with our kids. We don’t want to move when our spouse is offered a great job opportunity. Or when the going gets rough where we are, we don’t want to stay and deal with it, when it seems easier to move.
            Moses reluctantly obeyed God and he became one of the most admired men in the Bible.
            I don’t want to be reluctant to do the things God calls me to do. I want to be all in with God, and enthusiastically obey, knowing He will equip me and give me the strength to do whatever He calls me to. It helps to start by making the decision to say yes to God, no matter what the assignment. It is easier to do what He calls us to do, if we have determined we will say yes ahead of time.
            Have you ever been reluctant to obey what God has asked you to do? Have you ever used one of these excuses?
We have all heard this verse before,
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
but is it enough to cause us to say yes when God calls us to a seemingly impossible task?

Monday, April 6, 2015

Press 1 for Answers to Prayer

            It is frustrating to make a phone call and get trapped in the endless automated system. Hearing the robot lady’s voice say over and over:
Press 1 for this.
Press 2 for that.
Press 3 to leave a message.
Press 4 to return to the main menu.

            She asks for my account number, but then when a real live customer service rep  answers they ask for the number again, like it was just a stall tactic by the robot lady. I have started immediately saying, “customer service rep” as soon as the robot lady starts speaking. Even then she will say, “I understand you want to speak to a customer service rep. If your question is about this, press 1. If it is about that, press 2.” Aaugh!
            Recently I was at the hospital for my son’s surgery. They needed me to call my insurance company and find out what I owed. It seemed like a simple request, surely there was a simple answer.
            First, my husband called. I could tell by his deliberate answers he was talking to the robot lady. After 20 minutes he gave up and said it was my turn. I called. I answered all the robot lady’s questions just like he did. Finally, I tried to override her and said,
“Customer service! Customer service! Customer service!”
Somehow this baffled the robot lady and she sent me back to the main menu.
“If this is a medical emergency, hang up and dial 911.”
“If this is a mental health emergency, press 1.”
            That was interesting. They must have added the mental health option, because after being on hold for 20 minutes they knew there would be a mental health emergency.
            Finally, she said, “You are caller number 14. Press 1 to leave a message and someone will call you back. Press 2 to continue holding.”
Since this was not my first rodeo with the robot lady, I knew better than to leave my number. I tried that before and nobody ever called back. I lost my place in line and had to call again and wait another 20 minutes.
            Sometimes I think we view prayer like that. We call God and we want to:
Press 1 to have a good day
Press 2 to bless the food.
Press 3 for help on a test.
Press 4 for God to be with us.
Press 5 for a close parking spot.
And if we have a bigger request we become frustrated when we have to wait longer than 20 minutes for the answer.
            Prayer is so much more than that. God is not a robot guy dispensing immediate answers. Prayer is talking to our heavenly Father who loves us more than we can understand, about things that truly matter to us. It should be like a continuous conversation with our best friend. It is more about our relationship with God, our love for Him, our reliance on Him, and our faith in Him than it is about Him blessing our food.
            I never did get through to a real person that day in the hospital. No doubt they will bill me what we owe for the surgery. Thankfully, God never puts us on hold or makes us wait to get through to Him. He is always with us, always hears us and truly cares about the details of our life.
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 1 John 5:14
Don’t you love that God always hears us when we talk to Him?