READ: 2 Chronicles 35-36
THINK: My wife, Jenny, teaches high school math. It takes a certain type of crazy person to be a math teacher, but she really enjoys it. Usually. But there is one part of her job that frustrates her greatly. It isn’t students who struggle to learn the concepts or need the pace to go a bit slower. It isn’t students who are talkative and hyperactive. It is, simply, students who don’t do what they’ve been taught to do. She teaches, reviews the lessons, and preps her classes extensively for the tests. But inevitably, on each test, there are a number of students who don’t do what they have been taught and instructed to do. They simply do their own thing or do nothing at all and they get the answers wrong. And it is frustrating for a teacher who made sure that they knew, beforehand, what they needed to do to solve the problems.
I’m pretty sure this frustration isn’t unique to teachers. It is frustrating for doctors and nurses when patients leave their offices with instructions on how to get healthy and remain healthy and then choose not to follow those instructions. It is frustrating for financial planners when people don’t stick to their plans for healthy saving. It is frustrating for custodians when people don’t bother to flush toilets even though they certainly know how to push down the lever. It is definitely frustrating for pastors to watch as people choose not to make the choices that they know are best for them spiritually. This list could likely include every single job in the world! But here’s the thing: If you and I feel frustrated when people don’t take our advice, imagine how God feels when we all ignore his!
The book of 2 Chronicles ends in terrible heartbreak. God’s people – chosen to be his light to the nations, protected by him, and given the rich inheritance of the Promised Land – are conquered and the people are slaughtered and exiled. And the text reminds us that this did not come quickly. God sent prophets time and again to call them to repentance. He reminded them of the Law and their covenant responsibility to be faithful to him over and over and over again. They knew what they were supposed to do. They knew who they were called to be. And yet, convinced that they knew better than God, the people followed their own way and rejected him time and again. And the result wasn’t pretty. They ultimately suffered the consequences as they were conquered and the temple was ransacked by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians.
God has given us pretty clear instructions about who it is he called and created us to be. He has laid out a plan that is best for us and that allows us to live life abundantly. There is a counter-narrative that the world is pitching us, inviting us to ignore God and choose a different path. But it’s time for all of us to stop acting like we know better than God and start living the way we’ve been called to live. God is patient with us. And he won’t force us to do things his way. But there are serious and deadly consequences for us – just like there were for the Hebrews in the Old Testament – when ignore him and go our own way.
PRAY: Spend some time today confessing and repenting for all of the areas in your life where you have knowingly chosen to chase the world instead of fully pursuing God’s direction.