We may think that protocol “demands” that we visit our relatives on a certain set schedule (like at Christmas time for the annual gathering), but on a certain Christmas, close to twenty years ago now, as we were heading down to my mother’s house for Christmas, the Lord distinctly said, “Don’t go!”
You would think I would be obedient, right? However, I was not!
From the “human perspective,” we were already about 10 miles along the road at that point in time. Ten miles was really not that far, because we had about 250 more miles to go! But fear still won out because I was afraid of what my wife might say if I told her that God had said, “Don’t go!”
You can tell I was NOT abiding in perfect love, because, if I had been, I would have been more afraid of God than I was of my own wife! Yet here I was giving my wife more fear and respect than I was God.
Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:26)
This verse, of course, does not mean we should “hate” people. The word “hate” is being used as a figure of speech meaning, “in comparison to our love to God, any love towards man must seem like hatred”. It is basically a contrasting statement to make sure that we understand that our holy fear of God must take absolute, unequivocal, FIRST PLACE at all times! No person should ever get in the way of our obedience towards the Lord. The fact that we are to LOVE people is clear from a passage like Luke 10:27, in which Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
When you come right down to it, my problem, really, was that I was idolizing my wife and putting her on a higher pedestal than God Himself! I was fearing her more than I was fearing God!
“The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.” (Proverbs 29:25)
So on we travelled, for another 250 miles or so, until we arrived at my mother’s place.
As it turns out, things did not work out so well. There were several relatives there — and you know how it can be sometimes with those we love the most. Sometimes, contention can arise. In this case, it did. I do not remember everything that was said (probably thankfully), but I do remember the following:
1. Before we even arrived, we had an automobile accident. Fortunately, no one was hurt. But the left front fender was badly dented and needed replacing and repainting, and this alone cost me money plus probably 20 or 30 hours of my time. We were definitely not off to a good start. By this time, of course, I had so dulled the voice of the Holy Spirit that I was not about to go back home. We would stick it out and stay at my mother’s place that week – to our peril.
2. Second, while there, a very contentious spirit came against me and my wife from two relatives that were there. Being very unprepared to handle this, I actually responded to this contentious spirit in ways that were not at all godly. I felt like we were being ripped apart. Perhaps Satan was trying to cause distress in my marriage. This situation caused stress with my wife, and unnecessary relationship problems between us. This was a case of “spiritual warfare,” and our relationship was certainly under attack.
3. Finally, if that was not enough, I ended up losing my wedding ring before leaving to come home. The symbolism behind that is not polite and coincides really with the previous point. A week or so later, my mother found the wedding ring in a box of fruit or vegetables (of all places) and returned it in the mail.
Clearly, I had gotten myself, and my spouse, into some “hot water” by NOT obeying the Lord! Surely, things would have worked out MUCH better had I simply OBEYED THE VOICE OF THE LORD and not gone to my mother’s house that day. Yes, it would have been better to have stopped the car, and done an “about face” or “complete turn around” that day! We would have avoided the accident, avoided the family contention from my visiting relatives, and avoided having lost our wedding ring. In short, the week at my mother’s was a COMPLETE DISASTER and it was all my fault because I did not listen to the voice of the Lord!
Friends, the Lord knows what is best. I am here to tell you that your unwavering commitment must be to HIM at all times. You may THINK that the “right thing” is to do what tradition dictates at all times. But that could very well lead you into a trap at some point in your life – maybe not now, maybe not last year, but watch out! Always “check with the Lord” before doing anything – just like David did before he went into battle. During THOSE BATTLES in which it is said that David “inquired of the Lord”, and the Lord said, “Go up and fight”, it was those same battles that David always won. But when David did not inquire of the Lord, and presumed to know WHAT to do, and simply “forged ahead” without getting God’s “go ahead” in the matter, those are the time when he often lost! Which all goes to prove that God is always right and knows best.
In the words of one man I know, “Papa knows best”. He really does.
Have you checked with the Lord recently about the things that YOU are doing? Make sure it is HIS will first before attempting to do it!
Edited: Dec 21, 2012