I was young, and I was struggling. I felt like I had spent a month in the wilderness. I obeyed, doing what God required — I gave up on what I wanted, put aside my pride and desires, to do his will.
Though the month had been difficult in many ways, I felt I had learned my lesson and was ready to return to seminary with renewed focus and determination to live as he wanted. Two weeks later, I was writing in the last page of my journal. There were still lessons to master.
God had been so good to show his love for me during that month back home. These verses from Hebrews came to mind:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.*
He’d surrounded and encouraged me in my spiritual journey with living witnesses that month in Tennessee, but also brought to mind many who were no longer with us in this world who had played a key role in my life. I could not deny God’s love for me, because of my earthly family of God as well as all Jesus did on my behalf. It should have been easy to throw off that entangling sin. There was no cause for me to waiver in my devotion.
But I did — I was weak and needed to just make sure his provision was there. I looked in the bush for the lamb before I lifted the knife to self-sacrifice.
If Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son, why could I not be willing to sacrifice my desires on the altar of obedience?
Sin — Self — pure and simple.
Thankfully, that night, God reminded me, yet again, in his patient and loving way, that I needed to remain faithful to him, and he would not leave me alone.
I didn’t know it then, but I still had several more months of obedience training to endure before he granted my heart’s desires.
Are you undergoing obedience training? Taking a long walk toward the mountain of surrender? Stay the path and keep out of the bushes.
He provides the lamb in his time.
Grace and peace
*Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV)