29 August 2013

Of Heeding God's Demands

Lately I've been feeling as though it's a difficult time just keeping my feet on the ground, or even as though life has any other purpose besides making it to the end of the day. I could easily blame it on the fact that I've been enduring yet another first trimester with three out-of-womb little ones scurrying underfoot. And, certainly, there is something to that excuse.

But I'd be lying if I blamed it all on the tiny critters over-running our home.

Truly, I've just been disconnected. From life, from my family and, most of all (and most importantly), from God.

I've been doing the basics - attending church (when we've been in town), pulling out the Bible once or twice a week to half-heartedly read a few verses or to get my "fix" so I'd feel better for just a little while. But it wasn't sustaining me, because I wasn't allowing it to. I was trying to get by on my own strength and this nausea, headache, trying-to-eat-right-for-the-baby-when-all-I-want-to-do-is-suck-down-all-the-gross-things-that-will-only-further-the-nausea-and-the-headaches time of my life was not giving me much strength with which to work.

Thus, when it was time to get back in the routine of Wednesday morning Bible Study with my favorite girls, I was very ready to have something specific to study that would encourage me to open the Word every day (because, let's be honest, I'm a rules-follower, and if someone gives me homework, I'm going to do it, because it would hurt my heart not to).

But I really wasn't prepared for Ms. Priscilla Shirer to go messing with my business on Day 1. I was ready for a soft intro before hitting the big guns. But that's just not her way.

We started Gideon's story before Gideon even enters the picture. To set the scene, she shows a little of life in his culture, but before that, even, she takes us back to Deuteronomy 7:1-2, where God is giving the Israelites specific instructions before they move to take their Promised Land - and the most basic of these instructions is that they are to wipe out EVERY people group in their way. It seems harsh, but God has His reasons. He knows that even a little of the enemy is enough to mess with their security and their future.

Fast forward to the beginning of Judges (1:21 and forward, to be exact), when we see the tribes of Israel flat out ignoring God. One after another, we visit the tribes in their new lands, still living with the Canaanites! They didn't wipe them out. Not even close. They're living side-by-side with the enemy. Now, in some territories, they forced the Canaanites into labor. So, of course, we can hear their justifications: "Everyone else is keeping them around. We can just cut them back a little; we'll make them work for us. We don't really need to cut them out altogether. That's just unnecessary - a little drastic, don't we agree?"

And at this point, I don't know about you, but I want to kick the Israelites (as we wanted back when they were whining in the desert and multiple other times in their history) - God told you to do something; so just do it! Don't you get it by now?!

Sigh. Some people.

Ms. Shirer goes on to summarize the effects of their disobedience to God's clear demands,

"Had Israel destroyed Canaan's inhabitants as instructed, the ungodly influence and infiltration of idolatry would have all but evaporated. Had there been no enemies left in their territory, the Israelites could have settled into the enjoyment of God's promised land instead of facing extended struggle and oppression from their neighbors."

Basically, life would have been amazing - as God intended it. But they thought they knew better. And they paid for it for the rest of history.

Stupid Israelites (pardon my frankness).

And then . . . THEN . . . Ms. Shirer has to go get all up in MY business: "Are you facing any battles today due to something you didn't destroy earlier?"

Wait, what?

I thought we were talking about the Israelites.  Those guys are annoying. They're the ones not listening to God. I'm just over here living my life. God doesn't want or need me to wipe out any people groups. Thank you.

But there was something.

There was something he asked me to give up a long time ago. Something that should have been a far easier task than committing genocide. But I didn't. I rationalized it: "Everyone else does it - so it's not like it's really bad, right? And, besides, I know it's taking up a lot of my time, but I can just cut back. I can make it work for me. We don't really need to cut this out altogether. That's just unnecessary - a little drastic."

So I kept it around. To comfort me when I wasn't feeling well, to distract me when I didn't feel like thinking about anything deep. And, more and more, I was turning to outside sources to fill my time, my mind, my heart, rather than filling up on the Word of God and finding my satisfaction in Him.

And hear me, what God was asking me to cut out was not something anyone else, had they heard me struggle over the instructions, would have said was a necessity to get rid of. It's nothing inherently bad, nothing the Bible condemns.

But God had asked me to cut it cleanly out of my life. And I had ignored Him. And my heart was feeling the infiltration from the Enemy. I had been disconnected from God.

So, this time I'm listening. I'm taking a lesson from those stupid Israelites, and I'm cutting this virus out.

Because when God speaks, we need to listen. #LessonsFromGideon

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