A Command Not an Answer

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If God is with us, why has all this happened to us? Judges 6:13-15

Eugene Peterson passed away on October 22th 2018. Best known for his paraphrase of the Bible “The Message” Mr. Peterson also wrote many books among them one of my favorites a book on Galatians and grace “Traveling Light”. Some were critical of his treatment of Scripture in the Message. I personally found it when used alongside other  translations  ESV, NIV, even the KJV encouraging and enlightening. To me it was more like a commentary that added to the truth of Scripture. Good words for weary travelers like myself.

. The following is a good example of encouragement Mr. Peterson offered from a book titled, “Every Step an Arrival”.

Judges 6:13-15 So many times in the biblical narratives, we learn more of ourselves in reading them than we do of ancient history. The words of Gideon’s question in this passage leap readily to our own lips: “If the Lord is with us, why then has all this befallen us?” 

God seems so far away when our lives are filled with death, suffering, boredom, jobs we don’t like, people we don’t understand, circumstances we can’t change. We listen for the answer to Gideon’s question in hopes we may hear an answer to our own. But as so often happens in the encounters between God and people in the Bible, there is no answer, at least not what we would ordinarily classify as an answer. Rather, there is a command: “Save Israel from Midian” (verse 14, MSG).

I have experienced times when there was not an answer to my situations, trials, pain,  readily available. And like a child who wants their way and wants it right now, I questioned God’s goodness, provision, and even His wisdom. God owes us no answer, but sometimes He provides them even when His answer is not to our liking . Or even as with Gideon His answer  from our understanding is beyond our ability. Sometimes instead of an answer we we receive a command.

Rest

Wait

Be still

Go

Our choice then is to accept and obey or to forge our own way which even in light of His grace often does not go well. Mr. Peterson offers a view from this perspective, identifying the results of disobedience and then some very Good News.

Now, you can look back over your lifetime, search through family histories, observe the traditions of the nation, and see what happens when a person declines to respond to God and rejects his love. Disobedience is fairly easy to diagnose. Among the usual symptoms are sluggish moral reflexes, an uneasy conscience that interferes with your digestion, a load of guilt that makes you tire easily, and a low-grade depression that saps you of creative energies. 

For you who recognize such symptoms in yourself, I have good news: God loves you, and he is ready to forgive your sins and create new and eternal life in you. God is ready, at this moment, to cancel out the past, to wipe out the record, to burn the files on you. Nothing you have done or can imagine disqualifies you from accepting what he is even now doing for you.

Peace with God who created us, willingness to follow His commands, confessing our fears and even our disobedience provides answers when it seems none can be found. When we follow His commands when they are beyond our skill-set, ability, and even willingness ensures us that Jesus words were true,  “I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:20 the Message

Amen

 

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