Yesterday, I posted here about a family feud and, as a result of that feud and my not so lovely part in it, my experience of wrestling with God. But unlike Jacob, who wrestled into the night with God for a blessing, I was wrestling for something else.
After standing outside for a time in the brisk evening beneath the moon and stars, I went back upstairs to bed. Sleep remained elusive. I bounced back and forth between really wanting to open myself up to the Lord and let go of my anger and just wanting Him to let me get some peace-filled sleep and then we'd chat in the morning. I can be such a stubborn and indecisive woman!
As the delicate light of dawn began to peek through the bedroom window, I lay there, completely spent but still wide awake and my soul cried out to the Lord, "Okay...I know I said some mean, ugly and hurtful things to my family. Things I can't take back. I'm so sorry and I'm tired of being angry. But Lord...they make me CRAZY! You KNOW they do! This is not the family I dreamed of having when I was a kid. It's not supposed to be like this. What am I supposed to do with them? They make it SO hard to love them, Lord. What do You WANT from me??!!!" Yes, not only was I crying out to Him, but I was whining, too.
And His gracious, loving response to me came oh-so-quickly and clearly from His Word in Micah 6:8:
'He has showed you, O man,
What is good.
And what does the LORD require
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with
I knew this verse all too well, and I actually groaned and thought, "oh no...not this."
"Ah, yes, My child...this."
I've heard many times over in Bible studies, sermons and books to be careful not to take God's Word out of context, pulling out some verse from Scripture and saying, 'THIS is what it really means.' Or pinning it randomly to some scenario in our own lives or someone else's life because it sounds like a good fit, but really has nothing to do with it (Isaiah 11:6 'and a little child will lead them' immediately comes to mind as an example of this kind of thing). I agree, you do have to look closely at when it was written, by whom and to whom it was written and why it was written. But I also believe that through careful examination AND the Holy Spirit's guidance, you will see how a particular Scripture can be applied to particular situations and circumstances going on in your life.
While this verse was a part of God's message through Micah to the leaders and people of Jerusalem and Samaria, admonishing them for their pride, greed, false piety and oppression of the poor among them, it was obvious that God had a lesson in it for me to learn and apply to my life, right where I was. So, the answer to my whining question, 'what does the Lord God want from me?' is this:
**To act justly -- I've read other translations which say 'to do what is right,' or 'to act with fairness.' In this case, the right and fair thing for me to do was to stop being so angry; to stop whining about my circumstances and my family; to quit holding a grudge and being bitter and resentful; and to show forgiveness towards them, even when it's not asked for, not accepted or ignored altogether.
**To love mercy -- when you really love someone or something (and I'm not talking here about the way you feel about Triple Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream or about your new iPhone), you become all about that someone or that something; you dedicate and devote you life to them or to it. For example, you love animals, so perhaps you dedicate and devote your life to becoming a veterinarian, or an advocate for abandoned and abused animals. When you love Jesus with your whole heart, mind, soul and strength, you dedicate and devote your life to living for and serving Him in whatever ways you can. Your life becomes all about Him as you show yourself to the world as a man or woman of God. Again, in this case, I see the Lord leading me to be a woman who is all about mercy, dedicating and devoting my life to showing it to others. But most especially in this instance, showing that mercy to my family by not giving them what I think and believe they deserve.
**And to walk humbly with your God -- May I come clean and be totally transparent here? I am NOT a humble person. In fact, I've struggled with humility for years. Pride has been one of my main stumbling blocks in life. I've some pretty good ideas on why that is, but that's not relevant right now. The point here is, humility is most definitely not my strong suit. Yet the Lord has called me to be humble as I walk along with Him. And as I was writing this, I realized that perhaps the key to overcoming my struggle with humility has everything to do with one word in this phrase: 'with.' With God. Not running ahead of Him or dilly-dallying behind Him, but walking right along with Him. As long as I'm walking in tandem with the Lord, with my focus totally on Him, I'm thinking there's less likelihood of my tripping over and entangling myself in those nets of pride that the enemy enjoys throwing across my path.
I have to say, being obedient and applying this lesson to my life later that morning wasn't easy for me. Things like this never are. And indeed, it was a painful lesson (and one I'm hopeful I won't have to relearn anytime soon). I must admit I'm extremely thankful that the Lord didn't see fit to pull my hip out of its socket, as He did with Jacob.
Have you been wrestling with God over a situation or a person lately? Let me encourage you to waste no time in turning it or them over to Him and instead, do the very thing He requires of you: To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with Him.
What good is there that I can do?
How can I please you?
How can I please you?
He has called you a man
What is good
And what does the Lord require of you?
But to do justice, to love kindness
And to walk humbly with your God~ Micah 6:8, by Phil Keaggy