“Beware of being obsessed with consistency to your own convictions instead of being devoted to God. If you are a saint and say, “I will never do this or that,” in all probability this will be exactly what God will require of you. … The important consistency in a saint is not to principle but to the divine life.” -Oswald Chambers
People believe more in a necessity that life be guided by religion than they do in the reality that life is guided by the Holy Spirit. God is asking these people to do something they said they would never do. They’re tormented right now because the choice won’t go away. God is trying to teach them to trust His voice, but they can’t make it line up with what they think. And so they’re tormented.
God told Ezekiel that he had to eat something that would religiously defile him. Ezekiel responded by saying, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I have never defiled myself (Ez 4:14).” God couldn’t possibly be asking him to do this. But, He was. There was a much bigger purpose for it than Ezekiel could see.
He had to let go of his religion in order to obey the God of his religion.
God told Balaam to go somewhere that was ‘forbidden’. Remember the story about Balaam’s donkey talking to him? Balaam was doing what God told him to do and an angel stood like a road block on the path. The angel called Balaam’s journey ‘perverse’ and said that God was angry. But…God told him to go. It made no sense. A donkey spoke, Balaam was a mess, and the angel ended the conversation by telling Balaam to continue the journey. Balaam had a job to do, though he didn’t know what it was yet. He had to trust God’s mercy and he stuck as close as he could to Him. (read Numbers 22)
I know the fear and trembling that blankets obedience.
Peter had a vision where He was asked by God to eat something that would religiously defile him. He responded by saying, “By no means, Lord…(Acts 10:14)” God taught Peter that life in Him is not about the ‘don’t’s’ and the ‘musts’. It’s about His purpose for you, but you get used while you’re struggling with Him, so it’s hard to see the purpose until you can look back on it with some distance.
Every step is a choice and we struggle to never misstep with the wrong choice. You know when God is leading you down a path you said you would never travel and you remain where you are in misery. You have to see, in these stories, that God sometimes does lead people in directions that force you to rely on His mercy and His grace.
When you are in that place, your life is not your own.
You are completely dependent on Jesus. You are exactly where you are supposed to be when you move beyond yourself like that. It gets easier to trust Him the more you let go. It feels unmapped, but it’s not. When you get in there, the map you’ve been using all along starts to become a lot more clear. It doesn’t take long before you find yourself chasing trails all over the map like it’s all new again.
You have to let go of the idea of what your life should or was supposed to look like. Here and Now life happens and you don’t get to write it. It’s time to step beyond yourself and trust that He knows what He’s doing. In that life of complete dependance on Him, you’ll lose the ties that are binding you. Sometimes those ties are people, sometimes they’re something else. You will suffer loss, but it’s only to learn what it means to say:
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”-Philippians 3:7-11