I like it when things are going well, don't you? When everyone is doing okay. When there's enough money in the checking account to buy groceries and gas and pay the never-ending bills. When no one is sick, the cars are running just fine, and there's something to smile about each day.
Like you, however, I've had plenty of times when things weren't going well. I can rattle off a list as long as the next person of times when things were just plain bad. Money problems. Kid problems. Marriage problems. Health problems. Car problems. Problem problems.
This morning I read the following verse in Jeremiah 7:23. It brings a sense of peace when I think about the truth of it:
"Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you."
God is speaking through the prophet Jeremiah to the Jews. It's not the first time He said those words though. In Deuteronomy 5:16 He said the same thing to the same stubborn people (race, not individuals) when giving Moses the Ten Commandments:
"Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you."
Paul reminded us of this commandment and promise in Ephesians 6:1-3. Obedience was just as important to God in the New Testament as it was in the Old Testament.
The theme of these verses, however, is not making sure your life runs smoothly and everything is hunky dory. That is a by-product of the real lesson here. Obedience, I believe, is at the heart of God's words. Obedience to Him. God definitely wants things to go well with our lives! It's His desire. But we are not puppets on a string. God won't make us do anything. We have free will. We have the choice to obey Him or not. Sometimes God allows unpleasant things to come into our lives to teach us and to test us. If we are obedient and trust Him, we'll get through them. I know this for a fact because I've lived it over and over.
I remember when I finally understood that God wanted nothing more than obedience from me. It came as a bit of a shock. I mean, a good Christian is taught that we need to tithe and help the poor and use our talents to further the kingdom of God. We're encouraged to serve here and help there, say this and pray that. And I was trying to do it all. I certainly wanted God's blessings on myself and my family. But one day as I was reading God's word, He made it perfectly clear to me that He doesn't want my time, my talents, my money. He doesn't want my good works or even my sacrifices.
He wants--nay, demands!--my obedience to Him.
To His call on my life. To His way of doing things. To His timetable. As Pastor Rick Warren says in his book The Purpose Driven Life, it's not about me! Life is not about me and my wants and wishes. It's not even about me using the gifts and resources God has blessed me with to His glory. Living the Christian life is not about how much time I spend reading my Bible or how many times I attend church each week.
It's about God and my obedience to Him!
God created me for a specific reason at this specific time in history. He put me in America in a Christian family with all the blessings and privileges that come with being an American. I can live out my life doing what I think I'm supposed to do and have a perfectly good life. But I will have completely missed the whole point of my very existence if I am not obedient to God!
Do I want life to go well with me? Absolutely!
How do I make sure it will? God himself gave me the answer!
"Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in ALL the ways I command you, that it may go well with you."
This week's Prayer "Shout Out" countries are:
USA, Malaysia, Netherlands, Romania, United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, Ukraine and South Africa.