I loved being a ‘stay at home mum’ when my kids were tiny. My husband earned the money; I spent it. A great arrangement I thought! Ok so there wasn’t that much to spend, but we got by. Then we began to get the sense that God had something else for us to do. It turned out to be running a little local shop in the heart of our church’s community. Great opportunity for outreach. Trouble was, it was a rougher area to move our tender young children into, and of course, I would have to work a lot harder. After quite a tussle, we moved in, and although I wouldn’t say I enjoyed living there, we did get many opportunities to share our faith with folk and pray with them in the course of our working day. God used us there, and we learned such a lot too; it was definitely part of his plan for our lives that we were there for those years.
Sometimes it is hard to obey God; knowing the ‘right’ course still requires submitting to his Lordship. At times, there are difficult decisions to be made.
In his final words to his sons, Jacob left detailed instructions about his burial (Genesis 49:29-33). He was leaving nothing to chance. He knew it was vitally important that during this time in Egypt, his family kept their eye on the goal of moving back to the land God had promised them. He reminded them that so many of their forebears were buried there – it was where they belonged. There was one very striking omission though – Rachel. She had died and been buried along the way, not in the family patch. I imagine that Jacob was yearning to be reunited with the love of his life in death, yet chose to be buried alongside Leah. Not because it was what he wanted, but because he recognized the importance of getting future generations back to the land. Also, whether he liked it or not, Leah was the mother of Judah, over whose tribe he had just prophesied the pre-eminence. His heart may have drawn him to Rachel, but his duty was to focus his family on the destiny God had for them.
Jesus too had a difficult decision that required his submission to Father God. Luke 22:42 “”Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” And how different would history have been, if Jesus had not chosen to subject himself to his Father. How glad I am that he did!
Submitting to God is not easy, by definition, as we are choosing to put him first. In the big decisions, it’s one big wrench – and then there is a sense of satisfaction that we have managed it. But submitting to God is also about little things, every day of our lives. Not always being certain that we got it right in the end. Not necessarily finding any immediate reward in doing right. But just doggedly doing our best to make right decisions, day in, day out, even when it hurts. In every situation, to say, “Not my will, Lord, but yours be done.”