Friday, October 1, 2021

Your Marching Orders Are not Mine


"Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel...Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have..." I Samuel 15:2-3"And David enquired at the LORD, saying, Shall I pursue...And he answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all." I Samuel 30:8

When I was fourteen our Sunday School teacher had us write our life plan. I don't remember the purpose or the lesson, but I do remember my plan because it had been my dream since I was old enough to ride a horse. I would raise horses and travel to rodeos and horse shows from Texas to Canada, and wouldn't get married until my late 20's. The only part I accomplished was not getting married until I was 29.

A few years ago I spent time visiting family in Alberta. I sat on the banks of the Bow River, looked around at the vast prairies stretching for miles. No people. No cars. No trees. No noise. No concrete. Just the beautiful expanse God created both in the heavens above and the earth below. I marveled that I could ever have left.

Going home creates a cluster of cumulus clouds inside me. On the one hand, I desire to stay to enjoy the tremendous freedom found in the Canadian prairies. On the other hand, I know that God has other plans.

Four years after that Sunday School lesson, I picked potato beetles off plants for a company a few miles from home. Each morning I'd take a jar, walk through their garden, and pick beetles and other bugs until there were none left. Then I would spend the better part of the day mowing lawns, trimming, painting, and whatever else they'd have me do. I had plenty of time to think, pray, and meditate on Bible verses while I worked. Seeds God planted earlier in my life took root, and His desires began to blossom in my heart. Little did I know in a couple of years I'd be leaving my beloved Alberta prairies.

God's purpose supersedes our own desires and dreams. He gives to one person one order and to another a different.

Both Saul and David fought the Amalekites. God sent Saul to destroy all that the Amalekites had because of what they did to the Israelites hundreds of years earlier. Saul was not to keep the spoil.

After the Amalekites raided Ziklag, God told David to pursue and recover all.

Different orders. Both instances of vengeance.

Have you ever wondered why? God had a different purpose for David than for Saul. Saul and David were also different people with different faith.

Why was Saul not allowed to keep the spoil? Was this simply a test of obedience?

Concern for what others thought often became the catalyst for Saul's actions. He didn't stand up for what was right and rarely consulted God on his own. He had less concern for his relationship with God than he had for public opinion.

The incident where Saul disobeyed, keeping the spoil after fighting the Amalekites (and then blaming the people) revealed Saul's character.

David took the spoil, obeying God, and spread it to the elders of Judah (I Samuel 30:8). David's character revealed.

God doesn't always give everyone the same marching orders, and we need to be careful not to judge another whose orders are different than ours.

At times, we turn our preferences or our own convictions into laws we expect others to abide by, looking down our noses at them for not living how we think they should--not realizing that perhaps God gave them a different order.

As a child, I though all people growing up in the city were dumb, because they didn't know anything about farming or living in the country. For a period of time, I lived as a city-dweller. God has  sense of humor.

After living in a variety of places and having experienced a variety of cultures, I realize we can all be 'dumb' when we are outside of our known habitat.

Perhaps some of the greatest distancing I have felt from others has been when they feel they must raise their experience in life above my own--not knowing me or my life. And I am ashamed to say I have done the same from time to time.

God gives each of us unique experiences, and we need to respect that. He knows our characters. He knows what we need to go through in order to grow or to humble us or to reveal Himself to us in a way we'd never considered before. The reasons for our individual paths are as vast as He is.

If I had set out to accomplish the life plan I wrote at the age of fourteen I would be most miserable, because I would not be living in God's will. God had other plans for me.

My life journey is completely different than my sisters, both who stayed in Alberta and farm. Their lives are no less nor greater than my life. God's marching orders for us were different. He designed our lives to be different. He assigned them to us because He knew each of us inside and out. Yet, all three of us can attest to God's blessings, goodness, mercy, and grace.

Lord, thank you for knowing me and taking me on this amazing adventure that is so much bigger than I had planned.

"Every way of a man is right in his owns eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts." Proverbs 21:2"A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps." Proverbs 16:9


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