He Only Asks for Obedience
Awakened by a noise, Elijah opens his eyes and looks around the room. At first, the rugged mountain man is terrified. Slowly, his terror turns to awe and wonder. His cabin is filled with a bright light and the unmistakable presence of God. Suddenly, a voice (which appears to be coming from every corner of the room) is addressing him. It is God speaking.
God tells Elijah He has a job for him. Out in front of Elijah’s cabin is a very large rock and God tells Elijah He wants him to push against it with all of his might. Elijah is to push against the rock from sunup to sundown. God tells Elijah this is his job until He visits him again.
The next morning, Elijah gets up and obediently sets his shoulder against the cold massive rock and pushes with all of his might. Day after day Elijah obediently goes out to the rock and does what he was told. Night after night Elijah returns home exhausted and sore. As the years press on, Elijah begins to feel he is wasting his time. Discouragement begins to set in.
Seeing that Elijah is showing signs of discouragement, Satan places thoughts in the weary man’s mind. Satan says, "You have been pushing against this rock for years and it hasn’t budged a bit. Why are you killing yourself over this? You know you will never be able to move this massive boulder. And, even if you did, so what! What would you really have accomplished? If you think about it, moving a rock from one spot to another isn’t really important."
These thoughts discouraged and disheartened Elijah. He thinks to himself, "Why should I kill myself over this? This rock isn’t going to know the difference. I’ll still come out and push, but I just won’t push with all of my might."
After a couple days of halfhearted effort, Elijah feels convicted of his disobedience. Falling on his knees, Elijah begins to pray. He says, "God, I have been obedient to you all of these years and I haven’t accomplished a thing. I haven’t been able to budge the rock at all; it is still in the same spot that it was when you first came to me 20 years ago. What is wrong? Why am I failing? I admit, I really didn’t know what to expect when you first gave me my mission, but I figured after 20 years I would have something to show for my effort. I thought it would eventually become obvious to me why you asked me to perform this task."
God responded compassionately, "Elijah, when I asked you to serve, you served. The only task I gave you was to push against the rock. I never asked you to move it. I asked you to push against the rock with all of your might and you were obedient. I didn’t want the rock moved; I only wanted your obedience. Your calling was to be obedient to me and trust in my wisdom."
We can learn from Elijah’s experience. As Christians, we often think we must accomplish "great things" in order to be successful in our Christian service. We have this mental image of what a good Christian does and we feel bad if we don’t measure up to this expectation. We should never assume God is seeking spectacular performances or "great accomplishments." We are to carefully listen to God and obediently follow His instructions.
Above everything else, God desires obedience. If the task He gives you is to turn the world upside down, be obedient. If the task He gives you is an "unimportant" job (such as pushing against a rock), be obedient. Instead of being concerned about being "successful," we should be concerned about being obedient.
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