"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Raising the Standard: Flexibility is Sensing and Adapting to the Wishes of the One I Serve

Persuading others to cooperate with our plans seems to be an inborn talent for most people. Some have developed it to a greater degree than others. The opposite skill does not come so easily --- sensing the true wishes of those we serve and concentrating our energies, thoughts, and emotions to accomplish them. If a leader fails to develop this ability in his own life, he will be unable to instill it in the lives of those who follow him. This was the experience of one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known. He accomplished great things for God but might have accomplished even more if he had learned the true meaning of flexibility under a very difficult authority.
How Does Scripture Illustrate The Need To Sense The Wishes Of The One Being Served? Scripture instructs those who are under authority to adapt to the wishes of the one they serve. Scripture also requires everyone to obey God, the more we will understand the true purpose and potential of flexibility. What man in Scripture thought he was fulfilling God's wishes by getting out from under authority? Moses!
He is listed with the great men and women in God's hall of fame. He was a man of courage, faith and conviction -- one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known. These facts force us to ponder with dismay the final days of his life. At that time he spoke to the nation which he had led. He told them that they were a stiff-necked people and warned them never to forget how they had provoked the Lord their God. He pointed out that their rebellion began the very first day they were freed from bondage, and he predicted it would continue in the future. Immediately following the disappointing message, God told this leader that he would die without leading his people into Canaan because he had rebelled against the Lord. It has been said that a nation will not rise above the level of its leadership. What was lacking in this man's life that prevented him from inspiring a spirit of obedience and flexibility within those he led? The answer may be discovered in an event which took place many years before. Early in life, this man turned from riches and honor to serve the Lord. He chose to suffer affliction with the people of God rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin which last only for a season. But in his zeal to serve the Lord, he took matters into his own hands long before the Lord gave him specific steps of action. As a young man he knew that God had chosen him to lead his people out of bondage, but at that time he was serving the very ruler whose power oppressed them. This young man decided that serving the ruler was not the way to freedom. One day he took up an offense for a slave who was being beaten. He assumed that this was the time to fulfill the vision of leadership and liberation which had been given him. After killing the taskmaster who had beaten the slave and incurring the wrath of the ruler, he fled from the land. During the years that followed he was out from under that authority and far away from his people who continued to cry out for freedom. By getting out from under authority he set a tragic precedent. Throughout his leadership they repeated this pattern toward him and toward God. They rebelled against God's provisions and God's laws. There were uprisings against his authority and leadership. The faith of this leader was great enough to lead his people out of bondage but not great enough to lead them into a land of blessing. How different his example might have been if Moses had remained under Pharaoh's authority until it was God's time for him to leave Egypt. This was the example of Joseph before him and Daniel, Esther, and Nehemiah after him. Moses had great faith but even greater faith is built by adapting to the wishes of those in authority without disobeying God. (From Exodus 1:11-15 and Numbers 20:7-13)
Why Did Moses Risk His Position And Life For A Hebrew Slave?
Scripture records that Moses was born into a home where faith in the Lord was still alive. "By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months by his parents, because they saw that he was a proper child, and they were not afraid of the king's commandment." (Hebrews 11:23) When Moses was found in the river, his sister Miriam volunteered to find a Hebrew woman to nurse him for the Pharaoh's daughter. That woman, of course, was his own mother; and moses lived in safety in his parents' home until he was weaned. In those two or three formative eyars Moses' young spirit was directed toward the Lord. His parents' prayers followed him to Pharaoh's palace, and his faith continued to grow. "By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the sone of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season." (Hebrews 11:24, 25) His parents feared the Lord more than they feared Pharaoh, and so did their son, Moses.
How Did The Lord Adapt Moses For His Mission?
The Lord knows our frame and knows what His chosen servants need. For Moses it was an environment of soft beds, rich food, and loose morals in a place utterly devoid of helpful spiritual influences. He experienced the life Egypt had to offer and discovered its emptiness. When the multitude wished to return to the delicacies of Egypt, Moses was not tempted. In spite of this environment, Moses learned important skills. He was "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was mighty in words and in deeds." (Acts 7:22) His curriculum involved military science, useful in his mission of organizing a group of slaves into an army. It also included writing skills, necessary for his task of authoring the first five books of the Bible. Years in the desert of Midian taught Moses to serve his sheep, his family, and his father-in-law. Here he learned to quiet his heart in communion with the Lord. He also learned the skills of a nomadic desert dweller which would be employed when he led two million people in the Sinai Peninsula for forty years. His intillect was sharpened in Egypt; his spirit was sharpened in Midian. He was now ready for his task after eighty years of training.
Did Moses Completely Fulfil The Wishes Of The God He Served?
Moses' life ended in personal disappointment. Althought he successfully led the children of Israel out of the slavery of Egypt, the Lord had forbidden him to enter the Promised Land. Although he pleaded three times for reversal, the Lord said, "Speak no more unto me of this matter." (Deuteronomy 3:28) More than a thousand years later, however, even this desire was miraculously granted. On the Mount of Transfiguration two men talked with Jesus whose glory had been briefly unveiled. One was Elijah, and the other was Moses. They "spoke of his decrease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem." (Luke 9:31) Moses had been divinely escorted into the Promised Land at last. He was one of the first to know about the Lord's marvelous plan of redemption thorugh the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Moses, who had led the Israelites out of Egypt's bondage, now knew how the Lord Jesus would lead others out of the bondage of sin. By the late eighteen hundreds, the white-tailed deer had dropped in numbers from fifty million to near-extinction. Public concern saved the animal, and it is now estimated that more than eight million deer inhabit the United States. In May or June the female has he young. She usually has twins, although a brood of three is not uncommon. Over a ten-year period a female and her offspring are capable of producing as many as 130 animals. Approximately fifty-one percent of all fawns born are male. They grow very rapidly on their mother's milk. The deer's milk, richer than that purchased in the store, contains twice the solids and three times the fat and protein of that of the Jersey cow. On this diet the fawn quadruples its weight in a month. As an adult it weighs between 150 and 300 pounds. In the wild it may have a life-span of ten years.
How Does the Deer Illustrate the Need to Adapt to the Wishes of the One It Serves? In the east a brilliant glow burst over the treetops. Its fiery light filtered through the leaves, creating dancing silhouettes of shadow on the ground. A doe walked along the forest path on that beautiful June morning.
Normally this graceful creature would have browsed among the tender new shoots of grass. But today was different. The doe wasn't interested in food. When the morning hours passed, she quietly slipped away to a secluded place where she would give birth to a fawn. This was the first time the two year old doe had gone through this experience, so the probability of having more than one fawn was remote. The birth would be over in ten minutes. Soon it was busily licking the small, white-spotted fawn. Contentment welled up within as it washed the little one. The doe did this so vigorously that the unsteady fawn was knocked off its wobbly feet. Hungry from the exertion of birth, the fawn began nuzzling its mother's white belly and suckled the warm, nutritious milk. When full, it dropped off to sleep. For the next three days it would remain practically motionless, lying with legs folded underneath its body and its neck extended. During this time of the young fawn's life it is provided with a special protection against enemies. It has no odor to betray its location. A predator could walk right by it, and the infant with its protective coloration would still be safe, if it remained perfectly still. The doe concealed its young in a secluded spot, returning six or seven times each day to feed it. Thus it ensured that its own scent would not endanger the fawn by attracting enemies. As the days passed, the fawn grew rapidly with its growth came an increasing desire to wander. This was a dangerous matter that the mother had to deal with immediately in order to prevent it from becoming a habit. In no uncertain terms, the doe made it very clear to the young fawn that when hidden, it must stay there. Every time it was disobedient, the doe firmly pushed it back down with its muzzle. If firmer measures were needed, the doe would raise her forefoot, place it on the fawn's back, and forcefully press it to the ground. In spite of the mother's stern disciplinary actions, however, the young fawn still continued to wander on occasion. One day a swallow tail butterfly caught its eye. The fawn stood up to investigate. Its movement disturbed the insect, and it quickly flew away. As the fawn watched the bright wings flutter out of sight, terror and fright suddenly gripped the creature. There, just a few yards away, stood a hungry coyote on the prowl for food. It was too late for the mother to intervene. The quick and powerful coyote had caught the movement of the fawn. With a few well-paced strides, the coyote lunged at the defenseless creature. One powerful snap of its jaws, and the fawn was dead. The little deer had needlessly lost its life because it failed to adapt to the wishes of the mother.
Scriptural References to the Deer
"As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God" ~ Psalm 42:1
There are two times a deer develops a tremendous thirst for water --- when fleeing from danger and when withstanding an opponent in combat. Similarly we are to develop a spiritual thirst for Gods Word by fleeing from youthful lusts and resisting the devil in spiritual combat (II Timothy 2:22, James 4:7).
"My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger ... deliver thyself like a roe from the hand of the hunter ... " ~ Proverbs 6:1-5
Deer are very alert to danger, springing to action and remaining hidden while it exists. Surefooted, they leap over seemingly impassable barriers, and their lifted tail signals others of danger. There are implications for a wise businessman in this verse. One is never to be a cosigner. If you are, take quick, firm action to extricate yourself honorably. Detect and avoid those who seek to gain at the expense of others.
"Rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and a pleasant roe..." ~ Proverbs 5:18, 19
Tame dear are a study in gracefulness, affection, loyalty, contentedness, good grooming, and bright energy. Every woman would do well to learn these qualities and demonstrate them to her husband. There are over thirty references to the deer, fallow deer, roe, roe buck, hart and hind in Scripture.

No comments: