The challenge of walking with the God who knows me  

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If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17

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A dissipation of time and energy

Acts 26:14 (NIV)

“It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

I bought a new computer.  It was one of the first generation Macintoshes that promised to change the whole way computers were to be used.  I really enjoyed the word processor and it was a service to my house mate for his ministry among students.  As often happens with me and computers, I was not satisfied and wanted more.  Specifically I wanted to learn a new skill – a new programming language that was just coming into the fore.  To this end, I bought a software package of this programming language.  On taking it back home and opening the box I found that there were two copies of one manual and none of the second. In this state the package was unusable.  I took the box back to the shop.  The manager said “Lets check the next box.”  It had the same problem, so did the next, and the next ...

I should have seen this as an indication that something was amiss spiritually.  In fact in my heart I probably did see it, but I was unwilling to listen.  I could not let go of that desire to learn this new project. Unfortunately I did not take the hint, rather I was frustrated – another good indication that ‘my will’ was being crossed.  I was offered my money back, but would not take it.  Rather, I asked for them to order yet another and better package.  They agreed – but the package never turned up.  A month later I called up the shop and they said the whole computer section had been moved to another part of the city.  More indications ignored.  I went to the new shop.  They had never ordered the package so I tried again.  By this time I knew that I was pushing against Jesus, but I was unwilling to give up.  I wanted that package.  Eventually some  months later the package turned up.   Jesus might make things difficult but he did not stop me.

The result was that I spent a lot of time trying to work with this package but really it was rather a waste of time.  The interface on the early Macintosh was too complicated for the casual amateur like me, and with an ongoing ministry I did not have the time to put into it.  In fact it became a drain on time and a dissipation.  Worse still, I allowed this programming to take the centre place of my heart and eventually had to take the package and manuals and put them away in a box, out of sight, out of mind.

Time and time again in my life there have been examples of a series of coincidences all of which act to hinder a particular direction. Of course there are also times when the obstacles are on a path that is clearly of God.  In this case one must persevere to the end.  The issue is one of faith and obedience.  I have learnt over time that it is worth taking the signals of frustration seriously.  I only wish that I could say that I consistently do!  I see the issue as similar to that of Balaam.  He is summoned by Balak, a Moabite king, who wants him to curse the children of Israel.  God puts all sorts of obstacles in Balaam’s way.  But, Balaam wants Balak’s money and prestige, so he presses ahead.  God allows him to go, but with many warnings- including one from his own donkey.  Eventually when Balaam sets out to curse the people, God gives him a blessing instead.  The ultimate of frustration!  He tries three times and each time ends up blessing.  In the end instead of cursing God's people he shows Balak how to win them over to his way of life, and for his efforts he was put to death by the Israelites for witchcraft.  A punishment he would not have faced if he had stayed home.  How much simpler, how much less costly it would be to listen to the warning that Jesus so lovingly sends the first time round.