December 20, 2006

Obedience takes very little faith

(Today’s post is late because we switched phone numbers for our Internet service and had to reroute the lines in our home. I'm using my laptop on a landline and it is so slow. Technology is great, but our mastery of it sometimes nosedives.)

Most people have read the poem Footprints that describes times where God carries us, putting only one set of footprints in the sand instead of two. I’m deeply aware of being carried this past two days. My emotions are level, my thoughts on Him and on the needs at hand. Every now and then, He gives me time to cry, like the release valve on a pressure cooker, so my feelings escape rather than build up to explode. Nevertheless, all that is happening is not about me.

Our granddaughter is physically safe. She is in a "Fort Knox" place where a kindly staff are looking after her. She is concerned about what will happen when she is released. We are too, but one day at a time. Her needs are enormous.

My devotional book took me to Luke 17 today. Jesus talked to His disciples about their responsibility to forgive others no matter how often they sinned against them. The disciples asked Him to increase their faith, thinking that it takes a big faith in God to forgive someone who might repeat their offense again and again.

In a sense, it does. We cannot trust people to never sin again, but we can trust God to either stop them, or protect us from what they do.

Jesus responded with, "If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you."

In other words, faith might be required for this command, but it doesn’t take much. A mustard seed is not very big. I think Jesus means that faith is measured not by its size but more by whether it is there or not, and by its object. If I have faith in my faith I’d need lots, but if my faith is in a God who can do all things, I only need a tiny bit.

The real issue in being able to forgive others or do any other ‘impossible’ thing that God asks is not faith but obedience. Jesus went on to illustrate: "And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’"

I am responsible to forgive others as one of my duties as a Christian, not considering it a huge task requiring ‘great faith’ and meriting some special reward. I’m to just do it, and consider it part of ‘what I do’ as His servant.
Also, I don’t come home from "plowing or tending sheep" or any other task He has given me, think my work is finished, and look for some reward. My attitude should always be, "Is there anything more I can do? What is next, Lord? Have I satisfied Jesus?

It is far too easy to contemplate my work, dissect it, pat myself on the back, or even bemoan that I may have missed something. Again, all this business of living for the Lord, trying to help others, obeying Jesus, forgiving, serving, praying, whatever lands on my plate is not about me—even when there are only one set of footprints. In every situation and at all time, Jesus directs my focus to hear and obey Him.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are in a tough season for sure! Hope this Christmas also sends some breathtakingly beautiful moments - and lots of peace, some relaxation, even a little time off? (I hope so) Merry Christmas to you and yours!