February 4, 2015

A surprising consequence from obedience

A few weeks ago a man driving a pickup truck was involved in an accident. The photos showed his truck flattened between two semi-trailers into the size of a telephone booth. Extracting him from the tangle of metal was no easy task, but when he got out, he had only scratches and required just two band-aids.

In a later interview, this fortunate fellow said, “It is a miracle that I am still alive. Now I just have to figure out why.”

What a good question! However, because I am a Christian, I should not have to ask why I am here. Sometimes I do, but today’s first reading points to the reason God rescued me from sin and then left me here in this sin-sick world . . .  

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, “Let my people go, that they may serve me . . . . So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, that they may serve me.” (Exodus 9:1 and 10:3, italics mine)

God’s purpose for saving His people is that we will serve Him. Of course Pharaoh did not want that. He had these children of God in his service and didn’t want to lose his slaves. However, Moses and Aaron kept asking, kept performing signs that exposed God’s power over their gods, and kept making life miserable for the Egyptians. Finally, Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?” (Exodus 10:7)

When I became a Christian, I eventually realized that being set free from sin was not all that God wanted to do with me. While I could revel in the fact that my old life had been changed, He didn’t want me to enjoy my freedom just because it was better than the life that I had ruined. Certainly He wanted me to serve Him, but He also wanted me to realize that my idols and other loves were nothing compared to Him. When I read the second passage for today, these words express the intimacy of knowing and loving Jesus: “Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves.” (Song of Solomon 1:15)

The process of being set free involves dealing with idols, falling in love with Jesus because He is most lovely, but it also involves something else. The third reading connects with the first; Jesus wants me to do whatever He says . . .

Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. (John 2:2–8)

Jesus’ mother seemed to be on the verge of telling Jesus what to do, but instead she told the servants at the wedding what they should do. They were to obey Jesus — and they did.

His request was odd, but because they did what He told them, they were the first to see this first miracle . . .  “When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew) . . . .” (John 2:9)

Obedience may not always lead to a miracle, and it may not always allow me to see what Jesus is up to when no one else can see it, but I like the idea that obedience just might bring me closer to the heart of God, even to a special place where He allows a special understanding — just because I did what He told me to do.

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