On the Corner

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by Robert Docter – 

Do you ever have a hard time doing what you were told? Are you by nature a little rebellious? Do you like to resist “suggestions” from other people even when they say something like: “Have a nice day” or “Enjoy your meal”? Are you the kind of person who always wants to know “why” when you are given a direction? Is your way always the best way? Do you always have a “better idea?” Is life only really sweet when you are in charge and giving the orders?

What’s your OQ–your “obedience quotient?”

Don’t feel bad. A lot of us have difficulties in this area.

Often, we’re not really disobedient. It’s just that we do things grudgingly–without a good spirit. Are you like that? Or am I the only one who cycles through adolescence on a regular basis?

I’m intrigued by this fellow Moses. He had a lot of the adolescent in him. He lost his temper just as God had him poised for some important work and had to take a 40 year vacation in the middle of the desert. He was a very human person. Nevertheless, he was obedient to God. He did as God directed–a little questioning here and there, but he acted with obedience.

Quite a guy. He didn’t keep having better ideas, although he did have a few excuses and suggestions once in a while. But he listened, and then he followed the direction.

I must admit to you, God has never talked to me out of a burning bush. But wait! I have had “burning bush” experiences. Moses’ experience was pretty dramatic. Mine are fairly subtle. I’ve found I really have to pay close attention when God is speaking to me. He doesn’t use a loud voice–at least, not with me. But I hear it, and then I’m confronted by the choice–obey or not.

Even after Moses so thoroughly demonstrated his adolescence, God had a job for him. God planned to rescue his children from the slavery of Egypt and bring them to a land flowing with milk and honey. He needed Moses to lead them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt. (Exodus 3:10)

This came as a shock to Moses. He’d been on this R and R getting his act together in Midian for 40 years. “Who–me?” he asked incredulously. Then, after some additional specific instruction from God, Moses asked falteringly: What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’? (Ex. 4:1) God told him how to deal with that through miraculous revelations.

Then, of course, this great patriarch who had just witnessed three miracles himself and knew full well to whom he was talking said: “But I’ve got this disability …” I am slow of speech and tongue. (Ex 4:10)

Sometimes I find the same excuses Moses used when I sense the still small voice of God speaking in my inner ear: “Who, me?” “I’m not the person to do that.” “I don’t have the competence to carry that off.” “But you see–I’ve got this hangnail that is just driving me up the wall–maybe when it’s better.”

Moses did as God directed, and he did it immediately. Just as Moses predicted, God dealt dramatically with all the gods of Eygpt in a series of plagues and climaxed these events with the deaths of all the first-born of Egypt. But the visit of the angel of death passed over the homes of the Israelites who were obedient to God’s voice and Moses’ directions.

This was enough for Pharaoh, who told them to “Get out of town.” This they did–and quickly.

That’s when God started building a nation–a demonstration project for all the earth, designed to teach us how to relate to him. All this happened because a very human person was obedient.

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