Summary: Part 6 of series on Blackaby’s Experiencing God: All are called to make adjustments to be disciples, regardless of personality. We have to give up old habits, change our time use, redirect our finances, to enter this city and change it.
The old farmer claimed that he could command his mule with nothing more than a few soft words, no whips or prods necessary. She would respond, he claimed, with nothing more than gently spoken commands. So his buddy down at the feed store asked for a demonstration. “Prove to me that your old mule will respond with nothing more than gentle language.”
Out in the field they went, the farmer, his buddy, and the mule. As the friend watched, first in awe and then in horror, the farmer took a huge piece of lumber, a two-by-four about six feet long, and swung it with all his might, hitting the mule on one ear! When the animal stopped braying and bellowing and prancing around, the farmer then said, quietly, “Come here” and the mule came. “Sit”, and the whimpering creature sat. “Back up”, and she backed into the harnesses of a waiting plow and waited calmly for him to hook up. “You see? She’ll respond to a simple voice command”. But his friend objected, “Whatever are you talking about? You said all you had to do was talk to her, but you hit her with this huge two-by-four! What do you mean, you just command her with words! That’s not what I saw!”
“Oh, that,” said the farmer. “Well, first I do have to get her attention!”
It seems to me that God often uses the proverbial two-by-four to get our attention, because without it we would not listen, nor would we follow. God has to do something dramatic, frequently, because we just don’t notice that He is calling us. He is calling us to do something. He is calling us out of our mulish stubbornness and is summoning us to adjust our lifestyles. And we don’t even notice it until He smacks us hard.
Henry Blackaby says in Experiencing God, “you must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing.” You must. And the adjustments will be major. Some of us have to be hit hard to see what God is doing and what our response will be. Some of us are just plain slow to comprehend and slower to adjust.
“You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing.”
Saul found that out. Saul the tentmaker, raised in Tarsus; a privileged young man; exposed to the finest intellectual currents of his day; trained at the feet of Gamaliel, the master of rabbinic Judaism; able to claim Roman citizenship. Saul had purpose, ambition, direction, applause, success. He had it all. No reason for him to change his life. No reason for him to do anything different from what he had been doing all along. His life was working as it was. Why change?
For Saul, however, God’s two-by-four was a flash of light on the road to Damascus. God’s wake-up call for Saul was a personal encounter out on the highway, a moment of truth that made Saul take notice. Adjustments? You want tot talk about adjustments, major adjustments? With Saul you have them. Just about every adjustment you can imagine, Saul made. And why? Because God in Christ had gotten his attention and had forced him to acknowledge the truth he had so long resisted. When truth comes, you must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing.
First, let’s recognize that God calls all of us to major adjustments. All of us. Not just those who already want to change, not just those who aren’t doing anything else anyway.. God calls all of us to major adjustments in our lives in order to join Him in what He is doing.
So often I’ve heard people say, “Well, I don’t think you have to have a Damascus Road kind of experience. I don’t think everybody has to see lights and hear voices. I’ve just always been a Christian. I can’t remember when I didn’t believe. So I don’t think everybody has to go through a Damascus Road conversion.”
I agree, kind of. I’m sure that if God has created different personalities, so also He provides different response. But maybe we are discarding too easily the possibility that God may still want to make radical changes in our lives, even though we’ve always been able to take it easy. Are we throwing away too quickly the idea that God might call for major adjustments in our lives? Consider this: if you don’t think you have ever had a Damascus Road, radical conversion, might this mean that you actually resisting the things God really wants to do in you? Is it possible you haven’t had it because you don’t want it?
There are just some people who are inherently conservative. They don’t like change. They don’t want to embrace new things. I confess I am one of those people. I am basically quite a conservative person. Take technology, for example. Several years ago, when the church’s electric typewriter broke down, I asked for money to buy a new one, but the Administrative Committee had another idea. They said, “No, you need to get into word processing and computing, like the rest of the staff.” I claimed I didn’t know anything about that stuff, but they insisted, and they made me learn a whole new skill. That was a major adjustment! But, you know what? I’m a convert! I wouldn’t think of going back to the typewriter today! And yet, I still resist CD-ROM’s and scanners and all the other gadgets you can get now. Why? Because I still don’t like to change! I still resist adjustments. I still hang on to the old ways for the longest time possible. Some of us are just like that. We resist change. But change is possible, change must come.