The Price of Obedience

31 12 2009

“Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.”  But that is a good thing.  I’m one of those unique individuals who thinks it OK to not be UP! all the time.  It is OK to be introspective, melencholy, and morose.  These are the times God speaks most clearly to me.

The last two years of life have had more down times than good times.  Our family has faced a number of difficulties.  Unfortunately, we were kind of stranded and alone during this process.  It was very disappointing to have our church family remove us for having a going through hard times.  But, why should it be any different for us than for others.  I happen to believe that God knew it would be a hard time for us, and He sent us to a new church despite that.  I believe the church missed a golden opportunity to live out God’s love.

Scripture:

Luke 1:18-20 Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.” Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.”

Observations:

I read this today in the contributions section of YouVersion:

He [Zechariah] was a priest who went before God to do his duties and he had an encounter with God through and angel called Gabriel. He was in the midst of a huge transition. Sometimes, when we are in the midst of a huge transition, it confuses us because we have to shift from a traditional way of thinking. We can be hard to be around when we are in a major transition because we are confused and trying to find our way. Zacharias (sic) is the priest who is about to have a son who is a prophet. A prophet is very different from a priest. How could he train his son? For generations, Zacharias’ (sic) family had been waiting for a Messiah, but when the time had finally come, it was hard to receive. Even the angel said his prayers had been answered, but Zacharias (sic) said he couldn’t do it. What do we do when God gives us a challenge and we don’t know how to receive it? God doesn’t call a board meeting with us when he wants to move in our lives. He doesn’t ask our permission. God says, “Surprise, surprise, surprise”.

God spoke to me in this paragraph.  It reminded me of something Henry Blackaby says.  “Obedience to God has a price.  It not only costs the believer, but those around them.”

How would you like to be Elizabeth?  Zechariah goes into the Temple to perform his priestly duties, but when he returns, he can’t speak.  Through sign language, writing on the ground and on tablets, he’s able to convey somewhat of what happened.  She is livid!  Gabriel, himself, appeared to you, and you questioned his words?!  What were you thinking!!?  You idiot!

For the next nine months, Zechariah mopes around, trying to make sense of all of this.  He loses his importance in the community, people stop coming by to ask his advice.  I mean, all this writing, drawing, and hand signals – well, it all seems so confusing.  They go and find another priest to talk with.  In the meantime, Elizabeth is having a really hard time.  They are about to have a baby – a prophet that will prepare the way for the Messiah, but she can’t really “talk” to her husband about it.

Like Moses, or Jesus, in the Wilderness, not only was God silent, but these men had their voices stifled.  They were not able to perform the public duty they were called to perform.  For Moses it was 40 years; for Jesus it was 40 days; and for Zechariah, it was about 270 days – nine months – 39 weeks.  That must have been very difficult – for everyone involved.

Applications:

I’ve noticed that God often speaks through object lessons – almost more than He does with words.  Jesus used parables that often seemed confusing and incomprehensible.  Jeremiah had to walk around naked, sleep on one side, and eat food from dung-fueled fires.  Job went to Hell and back.  Hosea had to marry a prostitute – and love her.

HMS Richards used to say, “Preach always, and if necessary, use words.”

We live in a culture that values words – the spoken word.  We often forget what God is saying via the circumstances around us.

I’m troubled by the troubles my family experienced over the past two years, but I’m more troubled by those who rejected the opportunity.  I’m thankful that I didn’t have to walk around naked, or run and hide by the Brook Chereth; but it was still hard to be terminated.  I’m glad that I didn’t have to love and marry a prostitute – but I’m really thankful that I wasn’t stoned, flogged, or crucified.

We continue to stomp our feet and shake of the dust.  But it doesn’t shake off easily.

Zechariah made a mistake, he questioned God’s #1 messenger, Gabriel.  But look at how many have benefited from that mistake?  We often focus on the miracle birth of his son, John – and all that brought – but how many have stopped to listen to God because they learned from Zechariah’s mistake.

A bigger question I have, and it would be fun to know someday, is this:  Did Zechariah’s peers learn anything during his silence?  Did Elizabeth learn anything?  Did Zechariah’s disciples learn anything?

Or another way of saying this would be, God speaks in a spectrum of voices.  We may see one thing, hear another, and experience another altogether.  He may be saying one thing to me and quite another to you – with the same words and the same experiences.  It is easy for me to focus on what you need to learn, but harder to focus on what I need to learn.  Red, yellow, ultraviolet, infrared, visible, invisible, three-dimensional, or five – Current, or future.  God transcends time, space, and reason.  What is He really saying?

Maybe things are not as they appear…

I Corinthians 2:13-15 When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. But people who aren’t spirituals can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others.

Prayers:

Father God, open my eyes that I may see glimpses of Truth, thou hast for me.

Amen

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