I got fired once, well twice if you count the “carnival incident” but you really shouldn’t count that one.
I was writing for an advertising agency. I didn’t understand what it was they wanted me to do and I had a bad attitude about that. So a few times a week, my bosses would pull me into a break room and explain the job to me. Then I’d go write something that was different than what they asked me to write. Then they’d pull me back into the break room. This cycle of instructions given, instructions poorly followed continued for a few weeks until finally I didn’t get pulled into the break room. I got pulled into a conference room.
There, the president fired me and told me something like, “I don’t think you’re supposed to be a writer. Have you ever thought about being a salesman instead?” And it was the right decision on their part. They had given me a series of tasks, explained them over and over again and I had blown it. I didn’t get what they needed me to do and when I didn’t enough times, they didn’t need me anymore.
Sometimes I worry that God might treat me the same way. Maybe He won’t out and out fire me as a Christian, but I fear that He must be getting tired of explaining the same things over and over to me again.
There are a handful of things that I think God is trying to tell me and I just can’t seem to understand them nearly as quickly as I think I should. Things that if I were a better Christian I would be able to figure out or see clearly.
Have you ever felt that way?
Continue Reading after the jump
Has there ever been something in your own life that you just can’t seem to get right? Some lesson that continually lingers just outside of your grasp? A truth that makes all the sense in the world on a Sunday but seems to slip right out of your hands once you’re back at work on Monday?
I get concerned that God is tired of explaining things to me so many times, but then I read Genesis 15 and saw how He responded when Abram didn’t “get it.” God didn’t get mad, God didn’t seem bothered that He had to explain Himself. In fact, in this set of verses we see just how loving and creative God really is when it comes to teaching us the same lesson multiple times.
Here’s what happens:
Part 1: The Statement
God comes to Abram in a vision and says: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward. ”
How often have you thought, “God if you would just give me a vision or some sort of straight up God mojo that would clear everything up?” But that didn’t work for Abram and he expresses his confusion by saying:
“You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”
Hearing Abram say that, God decides to reiterate what He said.
Part 2: The Clarification
“OK, the vision didn’t work with this guy,” God must be thinking, “let’s try a different storytelling approach, clarification.” So God says:
“This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.”
Still, Abram doesn’t understand so God tries a different approach.
Part 3: The Metaphor
He’s clarified the situation, but God senses that Abram is not “tracking with Him,” quite possibly my new favorite pastor phrase, and brings the message from a third angle:
“Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then God says to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
“Ahh,” you can almost hear Abram say, “I get it now.” He starts to understand, but because God loves us enough to be repetitive, He doesn’t stop there.
Part 4: The Historical Reminder
God is the most patient storyteller ever. Here, He ties the present to the past and says: “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.” Should be clear at this point, right? God has used four storytelling elements to drive home His point, Abram seemed to understand, end of the passage, story over.
But, in verse 8 Abram says: “O Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”
Really? We’re still confused at this point? Four different times Abram has been directly told by God almighty that everything is going to be copasetic and he still has questions? This is the point where God says “enough is enough” and walks away, right? But He doesn’t. Instead He uses a fifth element of storytelling
Part 5: Vision Casting
Here is but a brief snippet of the vision of the future that God lays out in the final verses in the chapter: “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years.”
In five different ways, using five different creative elements, God explains truth for Abram. And the best part? During the last one, Abram was asleep. Verse 12 says, “Abram fell into a deep sleep.” I love that. All too often when I can’t see clearly what God wants me to do I think He’s going to be disappointed and that maybe I need to do something to fix the situation. I need to try harder or figure out some crazy God formula to understand what’s going on.
But maybe, like Abram, I need to just listen. Maybe I need to be still and rest. Maybe I need to know that God’s going to tell me what He wants to in His way and His time. And maybe to show me how powerfully loving and amazing He is, He’s going to tell me the same thing over and over again.
What’s one thing God keeps trying to tell you?