Out of the box obedience

Jeremiah 41-45

The theme for today seems to be obedience.  The remnant left behind in Judea was frightened and determined in their hearts to run away to Egypt.  But before they went, they tried to outwardly act as if they were following the Lord rather than their own hearts.  They went to Jeremiah and promised to do whatever the Lord told them to do:

““May the Lord your God be a faithful witness against us if we refuse to obey whatever he tells us to do! 6 Whether we like it or not, we will obey the Lord our God to whom we are sending you with our plea. For if we obey him, everything will turn out well for us.”

Ten days later, the Lord who knew what was in their hearts answered and said:

10 ‘Stay here in this land. If you do, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you. For I am sorry about all the punishment I have had to bring upon you. 11 Do not fear the king of Babylon anymore,’ says the Lord. ‘For I am with you and will save you and rescue you from his power. 12 I will be merciful to you by making him kind, so he will let you stay here in your land.’

13 “But if you refuse to obey the Lord your God, and if you say, ‘We will not stay here; 14 instead, we will go to Egypt where we will be free from war, the call to arms, and hunger,’ 15 then hear the Lord’s message to the remnant of Judah. This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you are determined to go to Egypt and live there, 16 the very war and famine you fear will catch up to you, and you will die there. 17That is the fate awaiting every one of you who insists on going to live in Egypt. Yes, you will die from war, famine, and disease. None of you will escape the disaster I will bring upon you there.’

19 “Listen, you remnant of Judah. The Lord has told you: ‘Do not go to Egypt!’ Don’t forget this warning I have given you today. 20 For you were not being honest when you sent me to pray to the Lord your God for you. You said, ‘Just tell us what the Lord our God says, and we will do it!’ 21 And today I have told you exactly what he said, but you will not obey the Lord your God any better now than you have in the past. 22 So you can be sure that you will die from war, famine, and disease in Egypt, where you insist on going.”

Sure enough, the people didn’t listen or obey the Lord this time despite their promises to the contrary.

Isn’t it just like us to decide before we pray what we think God will answer?  And then we turn a blind eye to his answer and just keep going on our own trajectory with no regard to obeying His call.  We do this so often that when we really and truly wish to listen to Him and obey, we have a hard time hearing his voice.  Or maybe I’m the only one who is affected in this way!

Case in point: our church search.  I *thought* the Lord was leading us to a different church.  However, through a series of events at the church we had been attending, it became clear to my husband and I that He has a different church home for us.  So where is that home?  Do we go back to the place from which we began?  That would be the easy route.  But what about the stirrings in my heart that pulled us away in the first place?  Were those stirrings of God, or were they of me?

Why is worship so important to me?  Does anyone else literally FEEL the presence of the Lord in a gathering of worshipers?  When I don’t discern the Lord’s presence and the worship feels artificial to me, does that mean it really is artificial, or is there something in my heart that is blocking my discernment of the Spirit?  Am I being too judgmental?

These are all questions on my heart as we continue our church search, and I do seek the Lord.  Unlike those remnant people, though, I have not decided in my heart one way or another.  If the Lord leads us back to the place from which we came, there will be a strong feeling of relief in that we won’t have to completely start over.  If the Lord leads us somewhere else, then I pray He will open doors and will make it crystal clear that we are home.  None of this can come from me.  It’s all Him, and it’s in His strength.

Speaking of walking in His strength…I have a praise report!  (Drum roll please……)  The school room is finally complete!!  Somehow the Lord supernaturally stretched out my day so that I had pain-free time to organize, sort, arrange, and place all the school materials.  I give all thanks and praise and glory to the Lord who graciously gave me the stamina and focus to get this herculean task behind me.

It was a bigger ordeal than usual in that I am reorganizing our supplies so we can be more “classical” in our approach to learning.  For example, I used to keep the books we accumulated in each year of homeschooling stored in big tupperware boxes.  Today I pulled all those books out and put them out on shelves for easy access.  Our focus this year will be on making connections between the Lord, the different subjects we study, and between those subjects themselves.  It’s difficult to make connections when the books are stored in boxes…just as it is difficult to obey the Lord when we try to place Him in just the spiritual realm in our lives and not give Him dominion over it all.

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