This story has really touched my heart. It is only one example of what God does everyday in the hearts of people who surrender to Him.
I have seen the commericial many times before. It is an advertisement for a new miracle pain reliever. It is powerful, and it has to be prescribed by a doctor. The nice lady in the background tells me how it can cure migraines…I have seen the commercial so many times, that I start to have a migraine. Well….not really.
When watching commercials like this it is interesting and somewhat entertaining to hear the long list of side affects associated with the drug. A pill that is meant to treat minor pain can cause nausea, itching, drowsiness, insomnia (odd how it can make you sleepy and not able to sleep), and trouble swallowing. In a few tests, death occurs… The side affects, to me, make the medicine not worth buying. Many times people will over medicate themselves, and are incorrectly medicated to attempt some sort of retreat from their pain.
We often try to swallow the “pills” that the world has to offer. Many long to thwart the evils of deep internal pain, so they look to sin to be numbed. Some will drink, seek sexual immorality, drugs, and other idolatry. God tells us the side affect of this treatment in Romans 6:23. The apostle Paul says, “ For the wages of sin is death…” We all are familiar with the concept of wages….An individual earns according to the work that they do. One earns death, if sin is the occupation. The side affects of attempting an artificial cure is death.
Jesus can heal all of our pain, and a life lived for Him is one that will last forever. Will there still be pain? Of course, but we will be glorified with God through the way we deal with it through prayer. The great physician is with us always. Talk about a fast house call!
God, however, shows us the side affects of His prescription. In the second part of that same passage Paul says, “…BUT the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The cross is sin’s antidote.
Looking back on my life I realize how ill equipped I was under my own power. I knew God was powerful but in my mind I still put limitations on Him. I got into the habit of thinking that my sin bound God from using me for anything significant. Then, my life changing moment occurred. Soon after I killed a man, and subsequently dealt with overwhelming guilt, I had a very unusual encounter with God. He revealed himself to me in the form of a burning bush. I have, obviously, witnessed a bush burn before …it happens all the time in the dry areas. This bush, though, was not being consumed for some reason. It’s like it was being protected from damage and decay somehow. The voice of God was audible in this setting. I felt love. I felt peace. I felt like I was forgiven.
The word God spoke to me was rather odd and, at the time, I thought it was probably meant for someone else. God wanted me to lead an entire race of people (the Israelites) out of the captivity of Egypt. Egypt, by the way, was the most powerful empire in the world. Let’s face it; there was no way this was going to happen. Imagine how angry that would make Pharaoh. Millions of people who were used as the labor force of the empire….just walking out of the country? I think someone would notice that before the plan was implemented. Also, why did God choose me? I can’t even speak clearly. Great leaders have booming, and persuasive voices. Their natural charisma compels people to follow. This was not the way people would describe me.
As I looked into the burning bush, I realized that God had the power to protect me from damage. I also realized that He was calling me in the midst of my sin and inadequacies. My obedience and dependence on Him would be my salvation. I did what God told me to do, and the rest is history.
As I reflect on my history there are things I observe about the current generation. The first observation parallels with my earthly call. The people of God still often act as if they are in bondage. They allow negativity, material possessions, selfishness, entitlement, and anger to hold them captive. They have a hard time embracing the freedom that is available to them. The last observation is that they think God can’t use them if they have sin in their past. I will be the first one to say that I as guilty of that same thought process, but I found out that God uses us….despite us.
Brothers and sisters…embrace your freedom today, and accept the fact that God has an enormous plan for your life. Don’t worry…He will protect you.
Walking up the mountainside with my father that day felt very natural. We were traveling there to make a sacrifice to the god that my father called Yahweh. This was the only god that my father worshiped and he seemed to act as if he really spoke to this god. They actually had an intimate relationship…like they were best friends that had been through so much together. Father seemed a little upset and even nervous while we were heading to the altar site that day. He would not look me in the eye and he would answer my questions with short replies. He was talking to Yahweh the whole way. At first the conversation with Yahweh was friendly but then the mumblings sounded more frustrated. Nevertheless, my father seemed determined to give God honor.
After a long walk we finally made it to the site and set up the altar. I soon realized that dad forgot the offering. Obviously we were going to have to go back and get it. This happened one other time before and it was a long day. We had never been to this site before and I was looking at the two servants that were with us and they didn’t seem to notice. I should have said something before we left but I wasn’t paying attention. When I was about to mention the lack of a sacrificial animal my father turned to me and I noticed something alarming. His eyes were puffy, and his beard was soaked with tears. I could tell he had been crying for a long time. My memory went back to the night before when I was awakened by the sound of violent sobbing. Father was upset about something, and he was even pounding the walls…So, EVERYONE was awake.
I then mentioned the fact that we did not have a sacrifice and he looked as if he was angry that I mentioned it. Rather rudely he snapped back at me “God will provide a sacrifice”. Ok then, remind me never to mention something like that again….he was obviously in a bad mood that day. He picked me up and put me on the altar. I wasn’t sure why but I imagined it was to test the sturdiness and how much weight it could hold. Then he raised the knife with his hand shaking. Wait……what was happening? Was I about to be the sacrifice?
Just then we heard a rustling sound. After that, a wimper… It was a beautiful and majestic ram caught in a bush. I then heard a booming voice and I could tell that it was God but I couldn’t understand the words. Dad did though… My father jumped higher than I have ever seen him jump and started laughing as if he were crazy. He kissed me and tossed me to the side like we were wrestling around at home. God provided a ram for us to sacrifice.
Later I found out more than I ever wanted to know about that day. I was the one that God asked my father to sacrifice. His beloved son. I can’t imagine the pain that my father was feeling after God asked him to take this step. Looking down from my current perspective, and knowing what I do now I have made one main observation about this current generation. I have noticed that sometimes God asks us to do things we don’t understand. If we are obedient, blessings always follow. It’s rather simple really…but applicable to all generations.
I was discouraged to say the least. Resting on a rock in the coolness of the night, I began to pray and look at the vast ocean of stars above my head. What was my purpose? Why was I here? I knew that God had more for me to do and experience but I was getting old. Much of my discouragement came from the fact that I knew I was getting old, and I had no sons to take care of my estate after my death. Call me old fashioned, but I just really thought it was important to pass on my possessions to the next generation.
As I rested and prayed, God revealed to me that I would be the father of many. I immediately thought of my age and my energy level. Even if this was true….how? My wife was past the age in which she could conceive a child (not to mention the lack of desire to take part in the “creative process”). I laugh about it now, because God has always been faithful to his word and I tend to listen to my fears. I was scared, confused and thought God was having a mental breakdown and needed a vacation. He promised me that day with a blood covenant of various animals. I suppose God knew something I didn’t know….like always.
Fast forward: God did what he said he would do. I found out, not only was God referring to my own blood line, but the promise He made also extended to people who embraced His son (very clever). Now, I have the opportunity to watch this story play out and I have made a couple observations about my “children”.
The one observation I can personally relate to has to do with God’s provision. Generation after generation has made the same mistake. No matter how many time God provides, we think that it was all a coincidence and God couldn’t possible do it again. We all know not to take God for granted, but this sentiment is taken so far to the extreme to the point where we don’t grant God the opportunity to show His power.
Finally, my children fail to remember that God can make future impossibilities a current reality. In the process our lives are changed and our capacity for deeper faith is increased. It is a difficult process to embrace, but pays infinite dividends if we choose to allow God to work.
Children, sometime soon, look into the sky and notice all the stars and realize something very important. God’s blessings are not limited and He hasn’t even scratched the surface with you.