As we move into the second full week of 2011 we may or may not be having second thoughts about resolutions made, or not made, a week ago.
Change isn’t easy. Could it even be possible for us to follow through on our commitments? If so, what it is going to take?
Am thinking this morning about what happened three months after the nation of Israel was rescued from Egypt. From the top of Mount Sinai, Moses returned with a message from God,
“You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.
Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’
These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the LORD had commanded him to speak.
The people all responded together, “We will do everything the LORD has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the LORD” (Exodus 19:4-8).
Something similar happened on other occasions of Israel’s history. It happened as the nation camped on the east bank of the Jordan river, on the threshold of the Promised land (Joshua 1:16-17). Amazingly the people said to their new leader, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you.”
What were they thinking? If Moses could only have heard them now, would he have rolled over in his grave?
Seems like I’ve heard these occasions of Israel’s promise to change– and to do everything the Lord wanted them to do– described as moments of noble resolve.
Certainly, God is pleased with our desire to be people who honor him as our real leader. But were their repeated promises to change really honorable… or foolish?
Or would they have been wiser to say,
“Oh if only we could trust our God and obey him fully. Yes, we do want so much to show him how grateful we are for the life and mercies he has given us.
But we have come to see our own hearts. We want to change. But we are also sure that we will continue to need a God who is merciful and patient with us. Without his patience, and help, and grace, we won’t even be able to slowly change—let alone do or be everything he wants us (as we ourselves long) to be and do.”
Am thinking of the options in light of what we’ve been saying about our need for bold, challenging leadership… that is as realistic as our need for courage, sacrifice, mercy, and patience.
Note: The photo below was sent a week ago by Steve (WV) who said it was a shot caught by a friend.