I am involved with a group that regularly goes on assignments and field activities. As such, deadlines are important for participation, planning and the logistics of the event. On the surface it doesn’t seem as though the deadlines are all that important that they need to be rigidly enforced, but that’s the surface.
This past week I got an up close look at what looms below the surface. A short series of events showed me a lesson that could save me from dealing with issues that I shouldn’t have to deal with, namely, discipline for not paying attention.
Some time ago as we prepared for an assignment, we received a word from the Lord. Here is a small portion of that word.
People need to confirm if they are coming or not coming, this is very important.
There is to be a deadline for people to confirm that they are coming. Write a list and publish it and send it out. As list grows update list and resend it out.
So this is the procedure we have been following since then. This is the procedure I have been following since I have become the person sending out the notices.
This is the enhancement to the word that I provide in each email.
I have been asked to handle the communications for this assignment. I will be maintaining, updating and sending out the list as well as information pertaining to the assignment.
According to the word mentioned above, a deadline has been set for Monday night. When I arise on Tuesday morning, which could be any time after 3:30 AM, I will publish the FINAL list of those who will be participating. The final list will be the final list.
We are not seeking to eliminate anyone from participation, nor are we trying to be difficult or controlling.
We are simply going by the word provided and walking in obedience to the best of our ability.
We are committing to local assignments just as we do when assignments take us on the road.
Please reply to this email as soon as you know for certain whether you will be or will not be attending and participating this time.
Confirmed Not Attending
This week I had two “after the deadline” incidents on Tuesday after the final list was posted. Both people were plenty gracious in the asking as well as in the receiving of the answer. This story really has nothing to do with the two people other than they happen to be the two people. The story really concerns the handling of the requests. One person totally understood having gone through similar situations in the past while the other interceded from home knowing that was the will of God in this situation.
Monday afternoon I received an email from each of the two people and a phone call from one of them. I immediately responded within myself, “No, you missed the deadline.” Without delay the caring side of me retorted, “But isn’t that a bit legalistic?” It is my desire that all who would like to, are able to participate. But there are the rules that are in place. But what is the spirit of the law? The answer is to get commitments, avoid confusion and avoid last minute changes.
The real answer, however, is that this rule was given to our group by the Lord. So the question isn’t about the rule itself so much as whether or not we believe it is a directive from the Lord. If yes, then we are mandated to obey it. If no, then what is it?
I made a phone call to another group member about the first person to contact me. We discussed it and then prayed about it. We immediately realized that we needed to enforce the rule. The person’s status, current circumstances or past participation weren’t really to be factored into the equation. The only factor is what we believe God instructed us to do. We desire to walk in obedience to the best of our ability.
I informed the person of the decision with much this same explanation. When I was later contacted by the other person, having that consistent response was easy to deliver.
Wednesday morning the confirmation came as I was reading in 1 Chronicles about King David bringing the Ark of the Covenant up to Jerusalem.
1 Chronicles 13:10
And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and He struck Him down because he put out his hand to the Ark, and he died there before God.
David took the leaders of his government to bring the Ark up to Jerusalem from Kiriath-Jearim. The story tells us that the ox stumbled, the Ark appeared unstable and Uzzah was going to steady it. The story doesn’t tell us that he touched the Ark, however he did reach out with the intention of doing so.
The rules for the proper handling of the ark were clearly conveyed to Moses. They were part of the law of the Israelites. The fact of the matter is that the rules were not followed and King David even admitted as much.
1 Chronicles 15:13
Because you did not carry it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not seek Him according to the rule.
King David summoned the priests, whom God had instructed to be the bearers and He also instructed on the manner that it was to be carried. The king instructed the priests to consecrate themselves so they could carry the Ark of the Lord. King David was now following the rule of God; God’s plan.
So what are some of the lessons here? There are many, but I will share a few.
The closer we get to God,
· The more care is needed.
· The more we see that knowledge is necessary.
· The less grace there is for disobedience.
Obedience is very important. Consider that,
· God makes the rules for His purposes.
· It is His business, so it should be conducted His way.
· We are His creation, so we owe Him our obedience and best effort.
If we can agree with these lessons, we can walk in humility and be used in the service of God. The more faithful and obedient we are to God, the greater He can use us in tasks that have bigger impact in the natural, the spiritual, and the eternal things of life and God.
If we cannot agree with these lessons, we need to examine our conscience, our level of pride and even the God we serve. Are we serving the one, true, living God? Or are we serving a false God that we created in our own image?
The closer I get to God, the more I find this verse in Psalms to be true.
Great peace have they which love thy law; and nothing shall offend them.
We can rationalize the actions, their severity, or the fact that there is consequence at all. But this is man’s wisdom which is far less than the wisdom of God. To rationalize a position to be other than that which is set forth by God is to allow our foolish pride to well up and say that we can be as God. Keep in mind the first being to do such a thing.
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit.”
It didn’t work out so well for him, and it won’t for us.
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.