The God of the Unknown Future and the Blessing of Surrendered Obedience

Bible Moment – Verse

Deuteronomy 7:9

Remember that the Lord your God is the only God and that he is faithful. He will keep His covenant and show His constant love to a thousand generations of those who love him and obey His commands.

Take a Moment to Ponder

True surrender is difficult. It involves a total suppression of everything the world teaches us about approaching daily about life. We are taught to be proactive and take charge. To plan, set target and achieve goals that we set. The image I keep going back to is the Israelites following the pillar of cloud or fire, both represent a theophany, or manifestation of God in daytime or night-time respectively. The cloud and fire are mentioned several places in the first five books of the bible and go ahead of the Israelites to guide their way and give them light. The cloud brings an army in pursuit of the Israelites and arrives at their encampment beside the Red Sea the pillar of cloud comes between the two peoples preventing the army from approaching during the night. The Israelites have light cast upon their camp while the Egyptian army is left in darkness When Moses parts the Red Sea, and the Israelites cross the dry riverbed the Egyptians follow them in but God throws their forces into confusion. The final image is at Mount Sinai, the cloud covers the mountain, and Moses enters into it to receive the commandments. To the Israelites, looking on the cloud appears as a “devouring fire” on top of the mountain. After the Tabernacle was made, the pillar of cloud descended to the entrance of the tent, where God talked with Moses “face to face”. The Israelites continue on their journey making camp with the cloud/fire descending and covering the Tabernacle. Successive stages of their journey were undertaken when the cloud/fire lifted and moved to guide their way. The Israelites would not break camp until the cloud/fire lifted up and moved on.

Why this story at this time? The past fifteen months since March 2020 when then COVID 19 epidemic (now pandemic) arrived in Jamaica have seemed reminiscent of that experience. The periodic orders under the Disaster Risk Management Act have told us where to go, what time to go and what the permissible actions are. It has been months of moving at a pace not of our own dictate but of the government of other ruling bodies. Times to work from home or for safe return to work or corporate worship. We have had to learn new levels of compliance and obedience for our individual and collective good. As always, there are those who are obedient and those who become impatient, chaff at the restrictions, and disobey the guidance set out. The complaints varied; this journey is too long, the next stages are unknown, the end is uncertain and so on. In this unexpected journey of unknown conclusion, many of us have undertaken new journeys in our faith, found new ways to worship and share our faith, found new time for family and self and realised new opportunities. We must be like the Israelites, trust the journey, and trust what it is working in our day-to-day and spiritual lives.

Take Action

According to Holman’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, a succinct definition of biblical obedience is “to hear God’s Word and act accordingly.” Thus, biblical obedience to God means to hear, trust, submit and surrender to God and his Word. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote ‘Only he who believes is obedient; only he who is obedient believes’.  For us in the present time the will of God most likely will not come as a voice from heaven or as commandments on tablets of stone but rather through the scriptures and through his will quietly expressed in still, small moments. With this in mind, we should work on our receptiveness to the will of God by:

  1. Making time for daily connection with the word of God as written in scripture and taking time to delve more deeply into interpretation of what we have read in commentaries or other writings or in discussion.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105). Read the Bible daily, systematically and obediently. Do not open it to some section randomly and just read, looking for a so-called word to be laid upon the heart. Believers who spend time daily with Bible develop a spiritual and moral compass that guides daily life, living and decisions.

  • Appreciating that God’s will is planned from his heart as Abba Father and that His will is for His glory.

The will of God is a living relationship between each person and God that is guided by love. God’s love guides and protects and our love is shown by our returned obedience.

  • Developing our trust and obedience thus gaining a deeper appreciation for His will in our life.

Paul uses words such as ‘be transformed’ and ‘renewing’ in Romans 12:2 to describe the ongoing process that is the Christian faith journey. We should develop the ability to grow, to change and become new persons through cultivating a deeper relationship that reveals God’s will and shows us how to please Him in our daily life. It is in this process that we will get to know ourselves better and discern the areas of ourselves that need work and improvement.

A Moment in Prayer

Most Holy and gracious Lord I submit my will to you. I place my will into your hands. I freely give you access to move unhindered in me and through me.
Lord, help me to submit not just my mind but my body, my speech, and my emotions to you.
I ask that you help me to submit to you in a greater measure. I will submit to your Holy Word. Bring back to my remembrance the YES that I have given you. The YES that gives you total control. I will be obedient and deliberate in my submission to you. I will refrain from walking in darkness and I will choose the path you have set before me. Lord, I give you my absolute submission so that you can dwell in and work within me to show the world your glory. In my own strength, I am unable to give you the type of wholehearted submission that you require, but through Christ all things are possible. Not my will, but thine will be done. Amen
(Adapted from A Prayer for Submission to God)

Contributed by Sister Thera Edwards