Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment” Matthew 22:37 (NIV emphasis mine).
Take your family and flee to the mountains, simple enough. EXCEPT, instead of obedience Lot chose negotiation. The result – his wife died and he sired two sons through incestuous relationships with his daughters. The boys grew up and became enemies of Israel.
Go warn Nineveh. Tell the residents to repent and avoid destruction. EXCEPT, instead of obedience, Jonah sailed off in the opposite direction. The result – thrown overboard to quell a violent storm, Jonah arrived at his destination via a three-day voyage with deluxe accommodations in a whale's belly. The city repented and Jonah sulked.
Dwell in Bethel – what could be plainer? EXCEPT Jacob chose Succoth instead and things went downhill quickly. His daughter Dinah was raped and two of his son's extracted their revenge. The Welcome Mat was quickly withdrawn and Jacob finally went to Bethel. Unfortunately, he didn't stay and while traveling, his favorite wife Rachel died in childbirth.
Notable EXCEPTions; the Bible is filled with them. God said, “Do this,” EXCEPT the listener did something entirely different and things end badly. Why is it just so hard to obey?
I relate to those who struggle with following God wholeheartedly. I've negotiated, wandered off target and flat out ran away. In all sincerity and with great intentions on Sunday, I'd pledge my all. By Monday, I had my list of EXCEPTions.
“I'll go anywhere EXCEPT: Haiti, Florida and Texas.”
I said this tongue in cheek but really meant every word. God laughed. I've lived in two of those three locations and have a pair of red cowboy boots...just in case.
Life says there are EXCEPTions to every rule. In God's kingdom rules aren't for bending, skirting or breaking. Do so and there are consequences. This isn't God's judgment, it's the inevitable result of the wages of sin, which is still death. God insists on an undivided heart, nothing less will do.
I still struggle. I like comfort, security (except for roller coasters, zip lines, parachuting and so forth) and things laid out in full before I make a commitment. God likes faith and trust in Him, not loads of fine print. Growing older I face more situations that require I trust and believe that He has the right plan. My options and resources are systematically funneling down to one thing – Him. Why do I find this so unnerving at times?
I don't have entirety in my heart. Nor in my soul or mind for that matter. I've gotten better EXCEPT I've not arrived. God is graciously peeling away the carefully constructed facade of self-reliance and exposing the fallacies that it is built upon. Together we're erecting new foundations.
How about you? What EXCEPTions keep you from being totally His? Why do you hesitate at His direction? What do you consider untouchable, off-limits, and non-negotiable in your life? Tough questions to answer, but they must be addressed to achieve entirety in our hearts, souls and minds.