Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Life Half-Baked?

By Kristen Leigh Evensen
Pick a recipe. Any recipe.
Specifically, pick a recipe for something baked and sweet and delicious. Cinnamon creme coffee cake. Banana walnut bread. Double chocolate brownies with cream cheese frosting. Red velvet cupcakes.

You are in the kitchen, preparing to make your baked good of choice. Naturally, you set the recipe card in your line of sight, maybe tie on a cute apron, turn up some favorite tunes and begin to extract ingredients from your pantry. All of these actions should yield a fruitful baking experience, including something delectable and fully worth your time and effort.

Now imagine that you decide that you would rather wrap up this project sooner, rather than later (there are places to go and people to see!). So you shirk a couple of key ingredients--maybe some flour and the baking powder--and you pop your creation into the oven. Your impatience is starting to wear on you, so you also nix the final ten minutes of baking time.

The result? Definitely not what you expected, and certainly not worth enjoying. A potentially delicious baked creation, ruined by your impatience and desire to act on your own control. 

Now really, who would actually partake in this illustration?

It may be hard to swallow, but you and I partake in it every time we think that our way is better than God's way. Instead of trusting our Sovereign God and His promises, we create our own timetable, make decisions on our own accord, and running with them. The result is a life "half-baked" instead of one abundantly blessed by choosing God's ways.

And who wants that?

The Israelites knew all about the half-baked life. How many times did they succumb to their fleshly need for security and erect idols of worship in place of the one true God? How many times did they complain of the manna that God had provided for their sustenance? They had seen the hand of the Lord guide them out of Egypt and part the Red Sea--yet, when push came to shove, the Israelites chose unbelief and idolatry. They went their own way.

Unfortunately, Moses and Aaron were not any exception. At Meribah, the Israelites complained about a lack of water, so the men fell on their faces before the Lord at the tent of meeting to plead on their behalf:

7 and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 8 “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle."

We are told that Moses takes the staff, as he was commanded, gathers the assembly before the rock, and says, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” If I was an Israelite, I would not like Moses' tone. We can infer that Moses is altogether fed up with these complaintive people! So what does he do next? He goes his own way:

11 And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. 

Moses did not "tell the rock". He "struck" it. Twice. And the Lord is not pleased with his disobedience:

12 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” 

Instead of being abundantly blessed by the Lord by following His ways, Moses and Aaron will now never see the Promised Land. And all because Moses took matters into his own hands and timing, disobeying the commands of the Lord.

What can we learn from this?

God's timing is intentional, and His instruction specific, so that He will be most glorified through our lives.

Like the half-baked recipe, and the forfeited blessings of Moses and Aaron, so our lives will manifest a lack of abundant blessing if we choose to live apart from the Father, forging our own way.

Who wants to see God work blessings? Who wants to behold God come through in ways that only He can? Who wants to experience God's mercies amidst hardship? I do! God clearly has a motive in exercising His sovereign will over our lives: to glorify Himself and do what is ultimately best for us.

But how can we obey perfectly? How can we proceed so as to never deny God's work in our lives? We cannot.

Therein lies the beauty of the Gospel, my sisters. We cannot obey perfectly, and we cannot be perfect vessels of His glory. But Jesus Christ was able to do both of these when he took human form and lived the life we simply cannot live ourselves.

Christ covers our inability to obey, trust and glorify the Father perfectly! Because of Christ, we are saved by grace and reconciled to the Father. In the final verse of the above passage, the Lord still "showed Himself holy", despite the disobedience of Moses and Aaron. Nothing, not even our sins, can thwart God's ultimate plan to glorify Himself in the love of Christ:

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).

There is an abundant life to live, friends! It begins with trusting Jesus, and continues in responsive living to the Gospel through obedience to God's ways and timing. He is the vine, and we are the branches; we can do nothing apart from Him. May we trust Him in every way, and walk according to the Spirit today and every day. May we choose a "fully-baked", abundant life in Jesus Christ!

Lord Jesus, How marvelous You are! Thank you for reconciling us to God. Thank you that, no matter how often we disobey and control things, God is still ultimately in control of our lives. Thank you for showering us with grace eternal.


Do you find it hard to trust God's ways and timing? What area of life is the biggest struggle for you?

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