January 30, 2016

The dilemma of obedience

When I was a new Christian, my sister, who had been recently saved through the testimony of a missionary in a foreign country, told me to read the Bible until God spoke to me, then write down what I heard from Him. This principle has served me well. Before using digital files, I filled dozens of notebooks with the things God said to me personally. Some of them read like love letters.

Chambers did the same, but his writings are often complex. Readers not totally familiar with the Bible and principles of Christian living may not understand what Chambers heard from God. However, if the Lord uses his words to speak to their hearts, it will come through loud and clear.

Today, he writes about sharing with others what God says. The example is young Samuel who had never heard from God, but the Lord came to him several times. The boy thought it was the priest, Eli, but the priest told him it was the Lord.

And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.” Then the Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.” Samuel lay until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. And Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. (1 Samuel 3:10–15)

God didn’t order Samuel to share this with Eli; he had to decide that for himself. He seemed to feel that he must shield this old priest from the bad news, but he also seemed to know that he must do so lest he put a barrier between himself and God. It was a tough decision.

This type of decision crosses my path many times. I have a relative that belongs to a cult. I am praying for him, and we have often talked about spiritual matters. He is utterly deceived in so many areas, but also well trained to resist anyone who shows him biblical truth. I’ve prayed for him for many years. Do I tell this ‘Eli’ in my life what God has shown to me? Do I say what comes to mind? Do I take advantage of every opportunity to show him what the Bible says? Or do I wait on the Holy Spirit to open his heart?

For me, this is a dilemma that depends totally on listening for the voice of God. But this is difficult because He could direct me either way. That is, I know what His Word says about speaking up, about waiting on Him, and about His timing and not mine, but my own heart often interferes. I want God’s truth to be known, and I want this relative to know it, but I cannot ram it down a resistant throat.

Chambers says to “get into the habit of saying, ‘Speak, Lord’ and life will become a romance.” He is right. In all pressing situations, I not only need to ask Him to speak, but also make time to listen, and particularly to do what He says. As I listen and obey, my hearing improves!

Chambers adds one more thought: Never seek the advice of another about anything God puts before me as a decision I must make before Him. That is, if I ask human advice instead of God’s direction about when to speak, Chambers says I will nearly always side with Satan. I need to remember Paul who heard the Lord calling him to preach to the Gentiles. He said, “I did not immediately consult with anyone.” (Galatians 1:16) Instead, he spent a long time with the Lord to make certain that he was “not running or and not run in vain.”

My hubby is discouraged. The doctor put on the whiteboard in his room that discharge would be “five days or greater.” Bob has not been in there for weeks and weeks, but he has been very healthy for years. This is a trial for him. He is grateful I am there and thankful for the care he is getting, but he says being in isolation seems like being in a prison cell. The hospital staff are not going into his room very often, likely because of the suit/mask/gloves routine each time. He still has crackling in his lungs and other nasty symptoms, besides the cough that keeps him from having much sleep. He is tired and wants to breathe some fresh air that does not get fed into him through a tube. He asked for prayer regarding his attitude.

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