Thursday, August 30, 2012

On Being Called Out

Her hands shook almost imperceptibly. She'd stood in my office doorway for just a second and in my busyness, I hadn't noticed the Bible she held. "What's up? Do you need me for something?"

"How are you today?" She had asked me. I was busy, working on a task that always seems to make or break my day and she knew I could be volitile. I mumbled something innocuous and tried to smile through my teeth without making it a grimace.

"I need to show you something... I mean, I'd like you to read something that God has been asking me to show you." Her small hands held the Bible open and offered it up to me, open to Isaiah 58:9-11. My eyes struggle these days to read small print, but I squinted my way through it as I took the book in my own hands. I realize now that I never looked up at her.

The words didn't jump off the page at me. Instead they crept into my heart with purpose, determination and conviction.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.' "If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

I admit I didn't read all of it with comprehension... But I was struck immediately by one phrase: If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness... ahem. There it was: the conviction that I had dreaded would come.

When you pray for God to reveal the source of a problem you are facing and He comes back at you with, "The problem is your attitude," it is hard to take. I want to explain, to justify the appropriateness of my actions. I want to make God understand that I have reason to feel as I do. Trouble is, God doesn't care about my own filthy justifications. God cares about my heart. God cares about growing me. God cares that I am humble and attentive and compassionate to others before I tend to myself. Here He was, pointing out that I was none of those things. God was holding up a mirror and I didn't like what I saw.

I read the passage and thanked her, finally looking up and meeting her eyes. I acknowledged my culpability in the situation. I told her I needed to hear it, and I wrote down the verse so I could later meditate on it. She breathed an audible sigh and confessed that she had stood outside my door arguing with God about showing me the passage. I tried not to cringe about what that says about my approachability. Instead, I marveled at the obedience involved.

That is what God is asking of me. It doesn't matter if I understand the plan, if I feel comfortable with the direction He is taking me. What matters is whether or not I am obedient to His direction. Listening when I would rather talk, moving when I would rather stay put, speaking up when it might be misunderstood - These are the things my God is asking me for. Obedience, brokenness and compassion. Obedience doesn't look like complaints, brokenness doesn't point fingers of blame and compassion isn't self-aggrandizing.

I thank God for that woman's tiny hands pointing to a verse I needed to see. I thank God she was willing to forego her fear of my temper and stand up for God's momentary mission for her, and ultimately for me. Praise the Lord He refuses to let me wallow in my own sense of righteousness and justification. I am truly blessed to be loved by One who refuses to let me stay where I am.

I endeavor to walk into my day knowing that complaints and blaming are not the path God desires for me. I recognize that my God is bigger than my problems and I strive to treat Him as The Master Planner. My role is to walk in obedience and today that feels like freedom!