Following Directions

We have committed ourselves to being molded by Christ. He is, after all, the potter, and we are His clay.1 Just how well do we follow His leading? I mean, how often does the clay challenge the potter? Do you find yourself refusing God’s lead in things or hiding your works from Him as the clay does in Isaiah 29:16? God has ways to deal with us when we don’t pay attention to his directions.

Many people of the Bible tried to evade God’s will. Moses, when faced with the burning bush, tried to beg off his assignment more than once.2 Let’s also consider Jonah, the most obvious example. God told him to go warn Nineveh. Jonah, being a good patriot, wanted Nineveh to get squished. They were, after all, the biggest threat to his homeland. So, where’d he go? Not to Nineveh, surely. No, he booked passage to Tarshish.3 No one knows for certain where Tarshish was. Some suggest England, a huge source for tin in those days.4 We do know that Jonah wanted to get as far away from God as he could.

How many of us play the part of Moses or Jonah? Where God wants to lead is scary, uncertain, way out of our comfort zone, or too far beyond what we consider our strengths. Like Moses, we lament that we can’t do that. Isn’t there someone else or some other way? We should instead take Christ for our model. In Matthew 26:42, we find Christ seeking some way other than the cross, but consigning himself to the will of the Father.

Being Christ-like is tough, to be sure. Sometimes, for all our trying to do otherwise, we still try to pull our own way. When we buck against God’s authority, God may allay our fears as he did with Moses. YHWH granted Moses a whole slew of new skills including turning a staff into a snake and making his hand leprous then clean again.5 As you read further through God’s plan, you’ll find that the plagues weren’t reaction to Pharaoh being annoying, they were in the works all along. Moses learned that it would take the death of the first born to free the Israelites.6 Coincidence that it would take the death of another First Born7 to free those enslaved to sin? I’ve been told that Rabbis don’t believe that “coincidence” is a kosher word.

God took a different approach to dealing with Jonah. He … explained the matter to Jonah a little more clearly. A few days in the guts of a huge fish gave Jonah the opportunity to reconsider his response to God’s plan. God put Jonah back on dry ground, and Jonah hiked three days to Nineveh. I would hardly call his message encouraging. He walked through the city yelling, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.”8 A modern translation of that might read, “Forty days to Ground Zero!” Wouldn’t you know it, but the whole city from the king on down repented on the spot.

You see, God knows what He’s doing. After all, He saw the end from the beginning.9 If he calls you to a task, He’ll make sure you’re properly equipped for the job, and He won’t send you on a useless quest. God’s word never returns void. If you fight His will, he may choose to explain it you very clearly, one way or another. Don’t misunderstand, God’s will is accomplished with or without our cooperation, but we’re the ones who lose out if He has to go to “Plan B.”

So where do we go from here? The first task is to pray. Give your life over to the great I AM, all of it, even the embarrassing parts. Then hang on for the ride. God will prompt you to do something. The instruction may be as obvious as a voice telling you to do this or that or as minimal as a feeling that this thing or that thing is what you should do. However He speaks to you, don’t ignore his voice. In the meantime, find out what you’re good at and do that for the Lord.

Endnotes:

1 Isaiah 64:8

2 Exodus 3:11, 4:1, 4:10, 4:13

3 Jonah 1:2-3

4 Missler, Chuck. Jonah Commentary. Koinonia House.

5 Exodus 4:2-7

6 Exodus 4:23

7 Revelation 1:5

8 Jonah 3:4

9 Isaiah 46:10

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