Listen and Obey

Readings for August 12, 2018

Kings 19:4-8
Psalm 34
Ephesians 4:30 – 5:2
John 6:41-51

Poor Elijah was at the end of his rope. He had tried to do as God wanted him to do but, by his own measure, he had failed. And what’s more, he was exhausted. And now he just wanted to fall asleep under the tree and wait for death. But God wasn’t done with him yet, so He sent an angel to wake Elijah with a little snack for the road ahead. After being prodded twice, Elijah listened and obeyed, and it made all the difference in the world.

Unfortunately, I don’t recall ever having an angel of the Lord come and tap me on the shoulder (or, at least, I didn’t notice it). And I am too often content to fall asleep in my faith. Even when I pray, I often find myself doing most of the talking, murmuring about how tired I am and about all of the small burdens on my plate. On this, God says to me, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” God is okay with me being weary. He is okay with me wanting to have fewer burdens. But He is not okay with the murmuring.  

Jesus tells me along with the Jews in John 6:41-51, “Stop murmuring! Listen to God! Come to me!” It turns out, all of my murmuring is keeping me from hearing God’s reply. To recognize God’s fullness in my life, I need to spend more time listening to His promptings, to the taps on my shoulder and encouragement to be strengthened by the food He has set out for me. And once I find myself paying enough attention to hear these answers, then I need to be obedient to that which I am called.

Both listening and obedience require a release of self. I cannot be too consumed by my own needs, too deafened by my own cries, to hear what I am being told. Instead, as Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians, I must imitate Christ as a beloved child, and live in love as he has done for me.

Jesus offered his own flesh as the Bread of Life, and he listened and obeyed his Father in taking up the cross as a sacrifice for my sins. So, even when I am exhausted and just want to sleep in the shade and pray that I might be allowed to give up, I must instead accept the nourishment that Jesus has provided me, and choose to walk in faith, forgiving and loving others as God has done  for me through Christ.

Christ, you are the sacrifice that saves me. May I forever listen, obey, and give thanks. Let my soul glory in the Lord forever. Amen

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