Ezekiel 24 is a very difficult passage for me to understand. The prophet’s wife died and the Lord did not allow him to grieve for her. What must it have been like for Ezekiel to obey that command? How is such a thing even possible? But Scripture records “and at evening my wife died, and the next morning I did as I was commanded.” Ezekiel 24:18
Even in his time of sorrow, the prophet was expected to represent the Lord and be faithful to his calling. There are no vacations for those who have separated themselves to God. All of life becomes focused on presenting Him to and representing Him before lost humanity.
Lord, I am too easily moved by my emotions rather than your commands. You would have me put your desires above my own, yet so often I do not. I feel the need, and even the entitlement, to indulge my feelings. Even when I know they run contrary to Your word. This is not the life You have called me to.
For you have called me to obey, in love, without reservation. You have called me to live for the One who gave all to purchase me. You have called me to forget myself and count all things loss – for You. This is the life You have called me to.
This isn’t a life for sissies.
Giving up my rights, it seems
Denying my desires and dreams
Is what the Lord requires of me
Dying to all hidden pride
And self-delight that seeks to hide
In secret places deep inside
Holding nothing as my own
Empty, I approach His throne
All confidence in self is gone
See the white flag lifted high
My surrender signified
Let all of self be crucified
Until it is not I, but Christ.
“Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the Lord.” 2 Chronicles 20:13
The Moabites and Ammonites have gathered for battle against Jehoshapat and his army. He has proclaimed a fast and gathered all the people together to seek the Lord. Jehoshapat prays a wonderful prayer of dependence, beseeching the Lord’s help. And then we come to this verse.
The solemnity of it struck me. It was almost as if I could see the scene, and the multitude standing there silently, having heard the king’s prayer. And now they wait for the Lord’s answer. It was a holy silence that needed nothing but to hear from Him. And He did not disappoint, but sent the promise of a great deliverance.
Often I find that my prayer times are filled with my words. I will pray until I run out of things to say and then assume that prayer is over. This is not communing with God. How can I be said to have a relationship with someone when the communication is always one sided? Life seems to always be in such high gear and there is always so much to do that it is hard to slow down and wait. But OH the reward of waiting is the joy of hearing from God. He does still speak to his people. We have just forgotten that we need to listen.
Lord, help me to develop this ability of holy listening. I desperately need to hear what You are saying.
Every Saturday morning we have prayer at my church. Although it is a large church, relatively few people show up for Saturday morning prayer. It is usually the same people each week. I am accustomed to the familiar faces.
Today there was a new face. As soon as he walked in he stood out. He was a bit disheveled in appearance. He didn’t bring a Bible, but had a newspaper in his hand. Several times during the prayer service, he walked uncomfortably close to the platform where our worship leader was sitting. It was disconcerting. I was not the only one that noticed.
I stayed around for a few minutes after the prayer meeting. Others had gone into a pastoral ministry training session. As I walked out to my car I noticed that the man had gone out to his vehicle and was coming back into the church. I passed by him on my way out.
As I drove home, I wondered what this man’s story was. He seemed so out of place. Why was he at our church that morning? Did he know Jesus? And I will never know because I didn’t bother to find out. My scheduled religious activity had been completed and I had other things to attend to. This man and his needs did not make it to the top of my list of priorities. To be honest, he didn’t make it onto the list at all.
I drove home completely ashamed, aware that sharing only a few minutes of my time with this man may have made an eternal difference. I can only pray someone else this morning reached out to the man. But I fear that they may have been too busy receiving training on how to care for people.
God help us.