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99 Days in the Word

Ryan Southern

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99 Days in the Word
--2008 MAY 31
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this podcast: download | iTunes When I was a kid I remember when I was a kid, one of the things I absolutely despised doing was brushing my teeth. Yes, like most 7-year-olds, the idea of spending 3 entire minutes with a brush the size of my head and some pasty-goo was simply not so appealing. But my parents, being the good folks that they are, decided that having teeth would be an important part of my life and made sure that I brushed them every night before bed. But in my cleverness to thwart their plan of ensuring shiny chompers for their son (and to relish in 3 solid minutes of wild freedom in the bathroom, which I mostly used to stare at myself in the mirror), I devised a plan: my parents would always check the toothbrush to make sure it had been used, so instead of actually brushing my teeth, I just wet the toothbrush, stayed in the bathroom for 3 minutes and put the toothbrush back. Voila! Freedom! I fooled them!! And by "freedom," I am of course referring to the multitude of cavities and fillings and painful trips to the dentist that ensued throughout my childhood years, as well the drill-sergeant-ish experience that was my parents hovering above me during teethbrushing time for the rest of my days. They did finally stop a couple months ago. Why do we act like this as children? Better question: why do we act like this as adults-- taking mindless shortcuts of disobedience, believing that it will actually benefit us, when the result is always the opposite. 2 Familiar stories In my reading this week, I thought about 2 very familiar characters and stories in the bible, whose obedience is so incredible, we gloss-over it most of the time. But first, a little fun. Genesis 6:13,14,17 God said to Noah, "It's all over. It's the end of the human race. The violence is everywhere; I'm making a clean sweep. Build yourself a ship from teakwood. I'm going to bring a flood on the Earth that will destroy everything alive under Heaven. Total destruction." (The Message) Noah, after changing his shorts of course, responds in a way that we accept so freely (because he's Noah, right?), but it is completely profound. After God tells Noah that he is going to have to build this giant, ridiculous ship and take his wife and children and 2 of every animal on the planet, Noah doesn't freak-out or question or ask for a different plan-- he simply obeys. Genesis 6:22 Noah did everything God commanded him to do. (The Message) Genesis 7:5 Noah did everything God commanded him. (The Message) It's difficult to imagine the fullness of Noah's obedience-- God has never asked me to build a giant ship and fill it with animals because He's going to destroy the earth. Maybe God hasn't spoken this exactly to me or you, but I bet He has asked you to build something-- something huge. Something incredible. Something so tremendous and ridiculous with your life that it terrifies you if you think about it too long. The philosopher Dallas Willard talks about the concept of familiarity breeding unfamiliarity and I think this is one of those stories-- we know it so well, that the complexity, detail, and power of this story is actually quite unfamiliar to us. One thing that is very clear however, is the result of Noah's obedience to God: Genesis 9:1,3,7 God blessed Noah and his sons: He said, "Prosper! Reproduce! Fill the Earth! All living creatures are yours for food; just as I gave you the plants, now I give you everything else. You're here to bear fruit, reproduce, lavish life on the Earth, live bountifully!" (The Message) More extreme obedience Another example of extreme obedience comes through Abraham and his son, Isaac. Again, we are very familiar with this story, but put yourself in this situation, especially if you have children, and see where it takes you in your mind. God says to Abraham, Genesis 22:2 "Take your dear son Isaac whom you love and go to the land of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I'll point out to you." (