I was on the phone with my daughter earlier today and I could hear my granddaughter whimpering in the background. Her mom told her to go to her room or quit. It did not sound like she did either in the moment because I continued to hear her for a while. There was a defiance in her that said “You can’t make me.” Unfortunately, I know that defiance streak runs deep, her mother had it, and I know her mimi does too.
I pray “God use me.”; then turn around, when He calls me to step out, with my defiant attitude and say “You can’t make me.” I know there is a part of me, the one that desires to fulfill His purpose that is really crying out “God please make me.” I want Him to make me do the things that I feel Him prompting me to do. But I know that He won’t, and that if He did I would resent it.
I know that God wants me to make the choice to step out in obedience to Him. He desires me to make the choice to serve Him. He desires me to make the choice to follow Him completely. He wants me to make the choice to listen to Him. He does not want to force me to do something, even if it is for my own good.
I Samuel 15 tells of how King Saul ended up being rejected by God because of his rebellion and disobedience. God sent the prophet Samuel to instruct Saul to destroy the city of Amalek. Samuel was very clear in his instructions that God wanted everything destroyed because they had opposed the Israelites when they left Egypt. And he specified everything! Saul called the soldiers, two hundred and ten thousand men to go and destroy it. He was stepping out to make God proud.
But when King Saul got to Amalek, he did not obey the instructions completely. He had the people destroyed. But Saul spared King Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen the calves and the lambs. All that was “despised and worthless” Saul destroyed. God immediately let Samuel know that Saul had disobeyed. However, Saul had a different story. Saul told Samuel that he obeyed all that the Lord had commanded of him.
Samuel of course called Saul out, he could hear the animals. Only then did Saul say ‘Well I kept the best of the animals as a sacrifice to God and I spared the king.” Twice King Saul defended his disobedience to Samuel. Saul saw his actions as obedient because he destroyed the city. He stepped out to do what God told him to do, even though it was not exactly like God told him to do it. The second time, Saul put some of the blame on the people, like they could make the king disobey God’s directive.
I can certainly relate to Saul. I know what I am suppose to do or say. I step out and do it, and then I add my own spin or words to it. Or I start to do something, but I don’t finish it in the manner that God instructed me to. I can also relate to the scolding that Samuel gave, because although I have never had God or a prophet verbally call me out, I do know I have been called out on my actions before. I also have done my share of trying to shift the blame when I am caught in my disobedience.
King Saul was told by Samuel:
“To obey is better than sacrifice…For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has also rejected you ”
Rebellion is like the sin of divination, which is an abomination to the Lord (See Deuteronomy 18). That put a whole other spin on my “You can’t make me.” attitude towards God. Saul was willing to make the sacrifice but not obey. Saul had a rebellious spirit even when he was told he had done wrong. Saul presumed that God would be okay with his plans. Saul rejected God’s instruction, and God rejected Saul as king.
If God is speaking to me to step out, I need to want to be obedient. It needs to be complete obedience. It needs to be prompt obedience. And I don’t need to put my own spin or flare on His directives. I can’t reject His instruction and presume that He will continue to use me in the manner that He has anointed me, after all He had Samuel anoint Saul, and the regretted it and eventually rejected Him. It wasn’t a one time disobedience, but a continual disregard for his role as the leader of God’s chosen.
God will only ask of me things that will profit me – whether in the moment or through the process of pruning or discipling. God knew the thorn that Amalek had been to Israel. He knew how they would lead away His people from the path God had for them. He was ultimately trying to protect His people, He was not looking for a sacrifice.
It is up to me whether the cutting away is for pruning and new growth or discipling and cutting off things that were never meant to be there in the first place. Saul made God discipline him, but the king that came after, King David allowed God to prune and correct him. The choice is ours to make, God won’t make me obey to make me into who He wants me to be and I can’t make Him.
This post is part of a 28 days series on Stepping Out inspired by the #Write28Days Blogging Challenge by Anita Ojeda.