I remember a day when I was a young boy that my father had taken my brother and me to a farm where he did some work. On the farm was a fenced-in area that contained a few cows and a couple of horses. My father went into this enclosed area to quickly put out some food for the livestock. Not wanting to close the gate behind him, he had instructed my brother and I to simply stand in the opening and if the horses approached they would not go past us if we stood our ground. Now we had no experience with horses and it sounded like a frightful task. Soon the horses came near and to us these huge and scary beasts were sending a clear message of “Get out of the way…We want out”. When the horses got within 15 feet of us, we panicked and stepped aside. Of course, the horses accepted our invitation and ran through the opening. We watched our father run after those horses for the next couple of hours before he got them corralled behind the fence. It was a long ride home with Dad!
To this day, I have always wondered would the horses have stopped and not pushed past us if we had stayed put in that opening? If we had taken our father at his word, would we have found his instructions to be true? Had we been obedient to our Dad’s instructions, would we have spared him hours of aggravation and unwanted exercise? That experience in my youth, has caused me to think about my relationship with my Heavenly Father as well. How many times have I received instructions from God and then disobeyed? How many times have I missed out on seeing God in action because I was afraid and did not trust Him?
I have always been impressed with God’s invitation in Malachi 3:10:
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
God is addressing the Israelites regarding their neglect in tithing and in giving offerings. God invites them to obey, but He also invites them to prove Him, to test Him, that with their obedience, they would see that He would be faithful to provide for them in abundance. In this instance the scripture text is speaking of giving, but I believe that God’s invitation to “prove” or “test” Him applies to us in every area of obedience. That if we will be obedient to His instructions, to His Word, we will find Him faithful and true. In this life, we will be challenged everyday in our obedience to God’s word and His plan for our life. Will we trust Him and stand upon His word despite our fears and the opposition of others?
The following are some of the lessons that I have slowly learned over the years:
- It is wise to give prayerful consideration to those who have experience. My Dad knew far more about horses than I did…and I have met many older Christians who have made my life easier with their wise counsel.
- Although the task of obedience can be scary and filled with unknowns, I have a faithful God who goes with me. The will of God will never take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us.
- I can experience God’s blessings and best for me because of my obedience or I can accept something very sub-standard because of my disobedience and stubborn willfulness. I think the choice is clear.
- God loves being put to the test for He loves showing Himself faithful on our behalf. “…and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing…”
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