The 40-Day Bible Challenge: Will You Answer the Call to the Hard and Heroic or The Simple Obedience?

Margaret —  March 4, 2013 — 13 Comments

SIMPLE OBEDIENCEWe’re moving forward in being Wonderstruck by Scripture in The 40-Day Bible Reading Challenge. As I’ve been reading this week, I’ve been wonderstruck by the number of cray, cray, or crazytown stories in the Bible. [Tweet this] I’ve read them before, but every so often I find myself awestruck again. Did you notice any? I was taken back again by a few of these:

In 2 Samuel 20 where Joab gets his pirate on and punctures Amasa with a sword. Guts spill to the ground. Double ew!

Or 2 Samuel 24, where God feels the pain of the terror of the 70,000 people who die from an epidemic and tells the angel, “Enough’s enough! Pull back!”

Or that trickster holy man in 1 Kings 13.

Or Zarephath, the owner of the original Biscuitville (1 Kings 16).

Or that crazy gourd story (2 Kings 4).

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One of the sacred echoes from this week’s reading for me came from 1 Kings 8, when Solomon stands before the altar and blesses the congregation. He declares:

“Blessed be God, who has given peace to his people Israel just as he said he’d do. Not one of all those good and wonderful words he spoke through Moses has misfired.”

Something about that word “misfired” popped of the page.

When it comes to God’s words, none misfire. Zero.

None of the promises.

None of the syllables.

None of the words of God misfire. [Tweet this]

This truth echoed throughout this weeks reading—through the life of the prophets including Elijah and Elisha, the kings and more. We’re repeatedly reminded that things happen just as God’s word say they will. Every. Time. [Tweet this]

And that’s both a challenging word and a word of great comfort. This weeks reading grounds us in the truth that God isn’t messing around. God is holy, and He calls us to pilgrimage into greater holiness. Step by step. Day by day. Without swerving. [Tweet this] Knowing His words never misfire. They all come true.

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The other resounding message from this week’s reading came from 2 Kings 5 when Elisha asks Naaman to wash in the river in order to be healed of his skin disease. Naaman refuses.

The request seemed ludicrous to Naaman. He stomps off, mad as a hornet.

His servant catches up with him and says “Father, if the prophet had asked you to do something hard and heroic, wouldn’t you have done it? So why not do this simple ‘wash and be clean?”

Naaman’s heart is pierced. He recognizes his foolishness. He washes and is healed.

The story got me thinking: It’s easy to spend a lifetime waiting for God to ask us to do the “hard and heroic.” We may even wonder if we’ll have the strength when the moment arrives.

Naaman’s story grounds us in the truth that most (if not all) of our lives aren’t going to be spent doing the “hard and the heroic” but answering the call to simple obedience.

The call to simple obedience is often much more difficult than “hard and heroic”. [Tweet this]

Answering the call to simple obedience strips us. There’s no glory. There’s no applause. There’s no measuring devices. Just a long journey of obedience in the same direction.

Simple obedience invites us to choose God each day. Day after day. To carve out time for God. To pray prayers never heard by any other human beings. To study an ancient book. To engage in relationships others would give up on. To respond to those sacred echoes of the Holy Spirit when He nudges.

For most of us, simple obedience won’t involve speaking to world leaders or making an Oscar appearance, but offering encouragement to the discouraged, hope to the weak, generosity to those in need. Responding to God in the midst of our daily routines.

Simple obedience takes many forms. Sometimes it means staying in a job you want to quit. Taking in foster children. Starting a non-profit. Choosing to be a stay-at-home mom. Waiting until everyone else is served before you pick up a plate.  Giving away your seat, your ticket, your spot to someone else. Making small decisions that sometimes gently, sometimes firmly go against the grain of our culture and world.

Do you hear the call to simple obedience?

Step by step.

Day by day.
Hour by hour.

What has the Holy Spirit been speaking to you as you’ve read the Bible this week?

 

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13 responses to The 40-Day Bible Challenge: Will You Answer the Call to the Hard and Heroic or The Simple Obedience?

  1. How over and over again they proclaim that God is good and His love never quits…the people saw God do miraculous things for them….but they also saw God discipline too…and his severe mercy…but through these times of testing…disciplining…they sang…they declared God’s goodness…they had a knowing…a right lens to filter/interpret God’s ways of interacting in their life…how quickly we rejoice when we see God moving in ways we like…but suffering…mystery…how quickly we question His character. Reading these stories…prophets of old…deepens my desire to continue to grow in intimacy with God…Holy reverence…but Holy boldness….

  2. I too have been struck how over and over it says, “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.” Over and over.

  3. Yes, Margaret, so true. This is borderline bizzarro. The greatest story ever told may just crack the list of the strangest stories ever told. I remember writing a term paper on the gourd incident twenty years ago. Hours of pondering and it still left me scratching my head. I’m still startled by the oddness.
    For myself, I was surprised by the difference between Kings and Chronicles. Kings is black and white. Israel is a steady beat of wickedness. Not one good king in the bunch. Judah is a roller coaster with ups and downs – the bad kings outnumber the good kings, but the length of their reigns is weighted to the good kings. God is blessing his people with many years of good leadership. The Davidic line is intact, not only in seed, but in blessing.
    Chronicles is more nuanced. The roller coaster is not just from one king to the next, but within the reign of one king. Some kings start good and end bad, others take taht same path in the opposite direction. The book could end with the overthrow of the nation, but instead it ends with the edict of king Cyrus. Even after repeated displays of faithlessness by his people, God is faithful. He can’t be anything less.

    • Love this, Phil. Love this…it’s so true…love that “God is faithful–He can’t be anything less.” Reading through the Bible is melting my heart anew….

    • Glad you saw this. I noticed a difference between Kings and Chronicles too. It seemed to me that Kings seemed to highlight the ups and downs of the leaders, which Chronicles did too. But Chronicles seemed to add an element of the people’s hearts as well. Kind of like a notebook describing how it takes more than just godly leaders and the destruction of high places to make a holy nation. The people have to have a heart for it

  4. Hi sister, I LOVED telling 400 women about your new book this weekend!! It has inspired me so much. Thank you for your precious ministry and surrendered heart.
    Blessings,
    Pat

  5. My call to simple obedience was/is to read the portion of the Bible for today before getting busy with all the other things to do in a day.

  6. Good stuff. It’s not healthy or helpful to hope for confetti and applause for simply living as God has designed and declared we should live.

    And yet… teaching my kids to do the right thing–just because–involves quite a bit of high fives and over-the-top praising. This is how I encourage in their minds an association between virtue and joy. I think God does this too.

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