What Is That Ringing In My Ears?
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. Hebrews 11:8
Abraham’s patient obedience is starting to irk me. He did not own any land, nor had he personally received any as an inheritance, and lived as a tent dwelling nomad, moving from place to place. He waited twenty-five years to see the son God promised him, and never really possessed the land God said his children would inherit.
I keep wondering how Abraham could remain so patient in his obedience. We live in a society that grows impatient if it takes too long for the coffee to brew in the morning, much less wait four hundred years for escrow to close on our new property! Still, Abraham went to Canaan possessing nothing but faith. He didn’t know where he was going, didn’t have a house when he arrived, didn’t own any land to build upon and didn’t know anybody who lived there.
Abraham “when called . . . obeyed and went” (vs. 8). The phrase “when called” translated an action indicating a quick response. In other words, while the call of God was still ringing in his ears, Abraham was packing his bags and moving west.
When was the last time I obeyed the word of God while the sound of His instruction was still ringing in my ears? Too often, I’ve been guilty of telling God what I think He really meant to say, hoping He would understand my viewpoint and change His instructions to meet my faith where I am comfortable. However, by the time I get through arguing a point with God, I sometimes forget what the original instructions were, and then of course I must start all over again.
I know I’m not the only one guilty of this. I’ve met other Christians who are guilty of giving obedient lip service to God, but when it comes to doing what they say they will do, they fall short of the mark. Jesus knew this to be the case for many of us and so He told a parable of two sons (Matt. 21:28-32), with one saying to his father, “I will, sir,” but in the end did not obey. The true children of Abraham, also known as disciples of Christ, obey in word and deed. In this spirit, Abraham believed God and quickly obeyed. Hebrews 5:9 reminds us that Jesus is the “source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” It is one thing to believe God’s directives, and quite another to obey them.
But there have been times when I have jumped up and obeyed at the quickest possible moment, and the joy from that obedience is enough to make me say, “Ask me to do something else Lord, this is great!” There is a joy in faithful obedience to God that one can find nowhere else.
Does this mean that every time I quickly obey I will like the results? No, but my limited understanding of “good results” isn’t really the point, is it? God calls me to obey and leave the results up to Him. By releasing the controls, God is able to work in a way that is beyond my understanding, setting me free from the burden of having to steer my own life. I believe that God’s vantage point gives Him a better view of my horizon, so I trust Him to steer me in the direction that I need to go.
So, what is that ringing in my ears?
Hi, Jim! Hope you are well.
How many of us have prayed hard for something that never happened. We were so disappointed at the time. Later on, we look back and think, ‘Thank goodness!’
My mom always used to say, ‘Things happen for a reason.’ (A very irritating thing to hear, but true.) Sometimes it just takes a while to see why!
BTW, is it all right if I add you to my blogroll?
Apologies–I should have said ‘please’.
But that made me think of another question. My best friend and I were talking about Job the other week and both of us find him perplexing. Do you have any Job posts? And, did they change the ending to a happy one to make it more palatable?
Thanks in advance on both points!
I’d be honored to be part of your blogroll. I’ve never heard of a “change” to the book of Job, and I don’t have any articles on the book, but that is a good idea.
Hope you are enjoying your weekend.
You’re on my blogroll now — many thanks!
Re Job, I ran across this article by William Safire from the NYT some time ago:
It relates to comments from Howard Dean about the book, such as this quote:
“Many people believe that the original version of Job is the version where . . . Job ends up completely destitute and ruined,” said Dean in his correction. That’s accurate, though there’s no other Job book in Scripture with an optimistic ending other than the familiar one. I think he means that some scholars believe that the Old Testament Book of Job that we know was amended by later rabbis fearful of portraying God as unjust.
Anyway, when my friend and I were talking about Job, we remember two reactions when reading it when younger (university age): anger at God for plaguing a good and faithful servant and thinking that Job should have thrown in the towel and said he was finished with God and faith. We couldn’t think of a book in the Bible — or a time in our own lives — that generated such emotion about God.
From what I remember from my university-level class on it (long time ago), perseverance is the whole point of the book, but it seems so extreme and unnecessary. I could go on but will restrain myself 🙂
Just wanted to say hi and tell you we are still hanging around; thinking of you and Barbara all the time.
I must confess, I cannot remember if I have ever obeyed while the words were still ringing in my ears. My mind doesn’t seem to work like that. I usually take some time before I make a decision, which also includes obedience.
Much Love & Blessings.
Hug Barbara for us…
Michael & Denise
Thanks for thinking of us. It is always good to hear from you.
Now, I must say that the times I’ve obeyed while God’s instructions are still ringing in my ears have been infrequent, but there are still a few times when I can remember doing so. Other times, I think the ringing comes from God having to hit me with a 2×4 to get my attention!
Sanity check requires a verificaton that the ringing in your ears is not a freight train coming. But really, instant obedience usually produces an incredible feeling of, “all is well with my soul”.
As for Job, suffering is the fertile ground to perfect God’s will and purpose in one’s life. I think God would prefer to not use suffering as a tool, but he won’t bypass suffering at the expense of His will and purpose.
Paul summed it up nicely with something like, “to live or die is but gain”.