In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord‘s Passover. Exodus 12:11
Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” Matthew 8:21-22
Spontaneity is not really a thing for me. I just don’t do well with it. But if you tell me that change is coming and that I need to “ready” myself to be able to respond quickly, I do pretty well with that. I always tend to think of it in terms of trimming the sails on a ship, being prepared for when the wind starts to blow. Because, you never know when it will start and you have no idea how long it will last when it blows, so you definitely want to be ready.
Walking with God is a lot like that. There is an urgency to the gospel message. He expects us to be ready to move so that, when we receive a clear word from Him about our next step, there is no delay whatsoever. In the kingdom of God, delayed obedience and disobedience are the same thing. God’ story is filled with references to this very notion.
I sometimes wonder if there were any Hebrew families who got the passover blood on the doorposts right (and were spared from the plague of the death of the firstborn) but who did not eat the passover meal all packed and ready to move out, like they were instructed. I wonder how many Hebrew slaves did not obtain their freedom because they delayed in making preparations to leave. Every group or organization has this group…those a little late to “on board” with the new chapter. And every church does as well. There are the early ones (the trend setters and change agents), the normal ones (who realize the change is happening when they see a large number of their colleagues on board), and there are the latecomers. In the kingdom of God, the latecomers often do not make the journey. The ship leaves the dock and they are left standing in their own regret.
The concept feels almost unfair to us in some circumstances. Jesus’ comment to the would-be follower who just wanted to go and bury his father first, before following Jesus seems harsh to us. And when God whispers his next assignment to us and expects us to move RIGHT NOW, that can feel a little harsh as well. When God-sized opportunities present themselves to our church and need a quick response, it can feel totally unrealistic to us when we consider the machinations of committee work or congregational government or otherwise seeking confirmation of the will of God together. But unfair or not, it is one of the ways of God. We seek His face, He speaks, and we must make a decision…today.
The question is, then, what new direction has God clearly given you or your family or your church? And how long do you think he will let you delay in your obedience?