Thursday, December 8, 2016

Obedience

Today's reflection on the Daily Texts:

Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and he said to him, "What do you command your servant, my Lord?" - Joshua 5:14

Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it! - Luke 11:28

Two-year reading texts: Psalm 140:6-13; 2 Kings 6:24-7:20; Acts 2:1-13

We have a number of weird, dramatic stories in today's scriptures! Joshua receiving his marching orders for the fall of Jericho; the plundering of the suddenly-abandoned Aramean camp outside of Samaria; the disciples being given the gift of the Holy Spirit. Each of these high points of drama were preceded by times of waiting, watching, uncertainty, looking for God's will. And they all came at times of great need. God heard, and intervened with the words of the prophets and direct action.

Reading these stories today, I started to think about how rare they are: a few mountaintop moments in the thousands of years of people's life with God. But then I thought about the story of the Son of God born in a manger, and how that story has changed everything forever. In the Luke 11 verse, Jesus is responding to a woman who wants to particularly bless his mother, and he says that actually the blessing is for everyone who hears and obeys God's word. With the gift of Jesus and his ministry and teaching, life and death and resurrection, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, we all have opportunities, all the time, for weird dramatic stories that come from waiting, watching, wrestling, listening for God's word and will, and obeying. Often it's hard to faithfully persist far enough into the listening phase. But it also seems to be hard for us to simply obey, once we do get our marching orders. As Bonhoeffer said, simple obedience is what faith actually looks like in action.


In my own life, I can't say I've brought down any city walls, looted any enemy camps, or rushed out into the streets speaking in tongues. But I do recall times when prayer and Bible study and conversation with Christian friends has led me to be convinced that God was calling me in a certain way. And when I followed, there were abundant blessings beyond what I could have imagined. That's weird and dramatic enough for me.

In this Advent season, may we be strengthened for the acts of waiting, watching, wrestling, looking, and listening. And may we surrender our strength enough to simply follow and obey, once God has spoken. May we see and testify to God's guidance and power and faithfulness in what comes.

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