I am an Israelite. As I sit here this morning reading through the book of 1 Samuel, I am nearly astounded at the similarities between myself- my generation- and God's chosen people in the Old Testament.
In Judges 2, the Bible says that after one generation of Israelites died, another generation grew up "who did not acknowledge the LORD or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel". It goes on to say that they chased after the gods of other nations. Chased them. Not slowly slipped away. They didn't lose touch over time. It sounds as though they saw that the people around them were better off so they abandoned worshiping the one true God to follow idols and false gods. As you read through the Old Testament, you'll see this scenario played out again and again and again. I found myself thinking, "I don't get it! God was WITH you in your camp! He led you by a pillar of fire by night and cloud by day! You watched him destroy the Egyptians as they chased you, you watched HIM defeat armies and you didn't even have to pick up your swords! What's the deal, people?!"
And that's about the time God whispers... "How are you any different, my daughter?" Ouch. "But, Lord. I don't worship idols, I try to obey your commands, I read my bible, I pray to you." How am I still missing the mark?
This morning I started the book of 1 Samuel. Few people outside of our families know how desperately I wanted to have a baby. Our pregnancy wasn't an "accident", we had tried for months and months and months to get pregnant. I remember praying and crying out to God and reciting Hannah's prayer in 1 Sam 1:11. "Oh Lord Almighty, if you will look down upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you." I fervently pray this prayer every day. I pray that we will raise our precious boy in the ways of the Lord. That he will know the word and love God's laws and hold his promises in his heart. I pray that my son finds success as a man of God- even if that means he doesn't find success according to the world's standards, I pray he's bilingual- or trilingual!- because he spends so much time serving God in foreign countries, I pray his wife loves the Lord as much as he will.
Needless to say, I was excited about reading this book of the bible because it's been so near to my heart for the last few months. In chapter 7, Samuel is frustrated with his people. I love what he says, "If you are really serious about wanting to return to the Lord, get rid of your foreign gods..." So the Israelites turn in all their junk and worship ONLY the Lord. I love that he says "really serious". Like, "yeah yeah, I've heard this before. If you're really serious this time, walk the walk, people." This sounded eerily familiar to something Jesus said in Matthew 19. A young rich man comes to him asking what good things he must do to earn eternal life. Jesus looks at the disciples and says "intently", "Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible." Before this he looks at the young man and tells him, in my own words, if he's "really serious", "...sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." The young rich man responds with joy and immediately sells everything... oh wait. No he doesn't. "But that's what I would do, Lord! If I had the honor of standing beside you and you gave me a tip on how to inherit eternal life, I would do it immediately!" "Then, my child, why haven't you?"
You see, the young rich man didn't sell his belongings and enter the mission field. The bible says he went away sadly because had many possessions. He wasn't ready to give up his idols and be really serious about serving and worshiping the one true God.
And that, my friends, is why I am such an Israelite. Each day the Lord convicts me to serve the least of these. I want be his hands and feet. But satan tells me I'm just one person and one person can't change the world, my community or my church. "One person can't make a difference, Allysa, so you just stay right where you are. Go wash that shiny new SUV in your garage, mop the floors in your beautiful home, go buy yourself some new shoes." And I listen to the voice of the deceiver instead of the voice of truth. I'm too small to make a big difference, so I just won't do anything at all. And satan wins as I crucify the Savior yet again.
I am not saying all those things in and of themselves are bad. If all of us were to sell our possessions and move to third world countries, there wouldn't be anyone here to seek and save the lost in our country. However, when I continually put my comfort and well-being above the health, comfort, and well-being of the 30,000 children around the world who died of starvation last night, I have my priorities WAY out of line.
My favorite quote right now is from noted speaker and author Tony Campolo.
"...while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don't give a shit. What's worse is that you're more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.”
Not what you'd expect to hear from a preacher, but man, is he right. I heard the crunch of my toes being stepped on the first time I heard that quote. My prayer each day is that I will throw away my idols and intently focus and serving God in exactly the manner he has called me to. When you read the bible, you cannot deny that we are called to be in this world, not of it. I've been transformed, sanctified, redeemed. I need to act like it.
Today, my prayer to is to commit to be really serious about worshiping God. I pray you'll commit the same.
with broken toes,