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Pleasing God or Trusting Him?


This is perhaps one of the most applied lessons to my life from my trip to Israel. Stay close enough to the Rabbi to be covered with the dust he kicks up as he goes!

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My pastor gave a sermon that outlined two paths we can take in our relationship with God: Pleasing him or trusting him. The pleasing path “looks” good, the actions seem right, but in the end we often feel we come up short ... in our efforts we cannot do all that’s necessary to truly please him. What he’s interested in is our hearts, he wants us to walk the “trusting” path. He welcomes us on it, dangerous and full of pitfalls as it is, and wants us to give him our hurts, our inadequacies, our falling short. It is in that surrender and trust that he knows we love him and that we receive his love, fully poured out in the sacrifice of his Son. It was a good reminder for me, a challenge to stop trying to do it right for him and instead give it all to him.

The reminder to walk in trust brought back an Israel experience that I needed to remember. Near the same time I was doing a Beth Moore study on John, the Beloved Disciple and the idea of being his trusting-following disciple came clear again. I just love how God does that! Enjoy my Israel experience ...

It is a warm morning with the moisture of the Sea of Galilee carried on the breeze to this mountain top. We have just begun another day of learning. Our Rabbi asked us to go alone and find a place to read aloud from the text. No matter what we have read, the echoes of the She’ma (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) ring in our hearts and minds.

Then we hear those familiar words, “Come, let’s go.” On this day as our rabbi intended to teach us about Jesus and his life in Galilee, I was even more eager to keep with his quick pace. What a joy it was to walk and talk and glean from his words. As we walked he kept his watchful eye over his shoulder for the others coming along behind. His conversation was involved with what was on my mind, but also gently leading to what he had to share. Then we came to the crevice. Steep, rocky (what else?), with the end of the challenge not very visible. Over the edge he went with gusto. Without much thought I scrambled over behind him.

When we reached the bottom of the crevice we stopped to wait for the others. We had descended in moments, but the wait for the others would take nearly an hour! As we waited and encouraged others down the steep challenge, I was able to reflect. Just what does it mean to follow a rabbi?

I scrambled down the steep crevice without a thought for my safety or concern about the challenge ahead. If he went, I could go. I had learned that he wouldn’t take me where my feet couldn’t walk. As I looked up at the others, some confident, others clinging to climbing partners for stability, some terrified at the path they were about to travel, I realized that I hadn’t given it a thought. The rabbi was with me. As some stood at the top or in the middle waiting for others to complete the journey, they had time to let their minds wander, to lose focus, to either be caught up in the process or detached from it. I had made the descent understanding the reasons for choices with focus on what was there to be learned. Some could have wondered at the choice, questioning the rabbi’s leading. I never wondered as I never had reason to doubt.

At the end of the road, I saw another benefit. By staying close to the “rabbi” I overcame the challenge long before many others. I had longer rest in the shade and in his teaching presence. I had a breather before he led me forward once again.

Each of these reflections showed me something about my Rabbi, Jesus. If I stay close to him, I will never choose a path that my feet can’t handle. If I stay close to him, I won’t have time and space to be afraid at the road ahead. If I stay close to the Rabbi, I will stay focused on the lessons he wants me to learn. If I stay close to Jesus, I will not grumble in the unknown as I will trust his words and direction with certainty. If I stay close, the challenges will pass more quickly and I will have time to just bask in his presence in preparation for the next path he chooses. My choice to allow distance between us only contributes to my perception that the road is too hard! If I cling to him with all I’ve got, his peace, his presence, his leading will be my comfort and stability. Stay close to the Rabbi!

Oh Jesus,

Help me to have the courage to go where you lead,

To follow when I cannot see the destination,

To trust when all around me screams to run the other way.

Help me to be a faithfilled, following disciple,

Living to be more like you each day.

I love you!

2/19/05

Oh Jesus,

Help me to have the courage to go where you lead,

To follow when I cannot see the destination,

To trust when all around me screams to run the other way.

Help me to be a faithfilled, following disciple,

Living to be more like you each day.

I love you!

2/19/05


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