Saturday, February 7, 2015

God Will Provide.

A lot of times, we wished we knew we were called for something.

Being called by God for something is one of the most alluring things in the world for your average Christian. Ideally, I feel like we enjoy being simply told what to do.

It's how I got through so many classes in high school and College.

Steph will attest to my enduring academic strategy I always fall back on when I find myself in trouble in class: Find the smart kid. Join their group. Bam. Assignment completed. It's apart of how we first met and got talking with one another, actually. At Central Christian College, there is a terrible class everyone has to take called research and writing- where basically they are supposed to be teaching you how to write research papers properly... and it's the most tedious, obnoxious classes ever... and to top it all off, the old man who was the teacher was nothing short of vindictive. Anyways, I soon learned that in a class devoted to attention to detail- I was going to fail if i didn't do something quick- so I fell back on my 'find the smart kid' tactic, and wandered into a student help session in the college's library... and there was Steph... and I learned, if I just sat there long enough and let her talk -never mind what she really said- she would just give me the answers. And so I passed the class.

It's easy when we are just told what to do, usually. Just wait there and act dumb and a slightly helpless, and most people eventually take pity on you or do whatever it takes to get you out of their hair. Which is fine by me. But honestly- and my former tutor can maybe attest to this- I never really learned what Research and Writing was originally intended to teach. Not very well, anyways... Because I didn't sacrifice my time and energy to learn, there wasn't any real change.

This is the nature of true personal sacrifice. In order to bring about real, personal, lasting change, you have to actually sacrifice- give something up which means something. In order for this spell to take effect, you have to actually mean it.

Have you ever wondered why specific things in the Bible are even in there to begin with? Why MUST we use water, of all things, in a baptism- why is this even necessary to begin with? Why does God give us the ability to walk away from him to begin with? And why, why does God keep insisting- of all the things across all the expanse of all time, on the principle of Sacrifice? 

True sacrifice brings about change. It is it's nature.

Genesis 22 New International Version (NIV)

Abraham Tested

22 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram[a] caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring[b] all nations on earth will be blessed,[c] because you have obeyed me.”

So, why does God insist on sacrifice? Because it is only through true sacrifice that real change can be brought about.

You see this again and again-

We must give up- to gain. It is a repeating theme- and if you ever catch something being repeated- repeated- in the Bible, it is like an EXCLAMATION POINT! being used.

Have you ever noticed things in your own life which you feel caught up in... ?

Ways of reacting or types of situations you are stuck in. Maybe there is a way to sacrifice, to lay down and let let go of, which, once relieved of- can set you free. Break the bind and lift the curse.

Before we moved back here, Steph and i were living in Albuquerque- I was working in Christian radio, which I was so sure was exactly what I had wanted to do as my vocation all my life... but I realized after I had been there awhile, what I had planned to be heaven- was really like living through hell. It's easy to say we'll change. We'll be different or take charge or treat so and so differently- but it's a whole 'nother can of worms to actually set about doing it. I realized, like Jonah, because I had been so sure of myself and just sailed off for the far reaches again after college- my whole world of a boat was pitching. Just throwing off things we think will count for sacrifices in hopes of lightening the load doesn't cut it here, in the deep water. We have to be willing to realize and take responsibility for our own choices and sacrifice ourselves- our own hopes and dreams- illusions of power and control- For God's own hand. We have to be ok with going overboard and being swallowed by what seems like sea monsters. We have to be really ok with dying to ourselves- so God will raise us up, having nothing- but being alive and whole. This is an act of Pistis- of faith.

Like Abraham, we have to be ok with setting out and jumping over the deep-ends. It is only when we cast off the last lifeline of our own assumed senses of control that God really has us. And what's more, we know it, too. We have to try not to just purposefully stand around, dumb and helpless. God want us to put our heart and back into this lesson of Life He's teaching us.

Find ways to put yourself in situations where you have to rely on God's direction in your life. Be willing to really sacrifice your own notions of comfort and safety- pride and even success. Because once you do- that's where you'll actually begin to find real change in your life.

True sacrifice brings about change, and God will provide.

Like what you read? Join in with your own insights, stories and art- send them to Thanks and God bless -Ryan

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