Monday, November 13, 2017

I Want to Be a Dog

The times when I think scripture teaches us the most are those times when we find something totally unexpected, those times when our own understanding and expectations set us up for a double-take, when we read something that cuts against the grain. One of those times for me, was in Mark 7, with the story of the Syrian Phoenician woman.

Jesus had taken his disciples to the vicinity of Tyre, a good distance away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds of Judea and Galilee  so that he could spend some quality time  instructing them. But, like always, Jesus couldn't get away from the crowds.  They followed him and crowded him and knowledge of his presence spread like wildfire throughout the countryside until a desperate Gentile woman learned he was there.

This woman's desperation grew out of the fact that her daughter was demon-possessed, and that desperation drove her to find Jesus. When she approached him, Jesus didn't seem to respond to her because the Greek verb tense that tells us she begged Jesus to drive the demon out, tells us that she was continually begging him. So, first he seemed to ignore her and when he finally did respond, he said, "It's not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs" (Mark 7:27, NIV).  What? Did Jesus seriously call her a dog? Personally, I would have been greatly offended. How did the woman respond?

"Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs" (Mark 7:28, NIV).  Jesus then granted her request and promised her that the demon had left her daughter.

You see, sometimes, we want God to move in our lives, but we want him to do it on our terms, in our way, in our time because we are under some delusion that God is obligated to us. This woman came to Jesus fully aware of her own unworthiness, more concerned about God moving than about her own dignity, and God responded to her humility.  Often, we miss out on God's movement because we are far too concerned about ourselves, about what we deserve and what we want, about our own dignity and importance. When we come to God with that attitude, God's movement will never be awe-inspiring or life-changing; it will simply be what we self-righteously think we are owed.

The next time you need God to move, track your attitude. Do you want God to move because you think He owes it to you or because you are desperate for the touch of His hand? Do you want God to do things in your time, in your way, and on your terms? Or do you need Him so much that you are willing to come to Him in humility, acknowledging your own unworthiness, and accepting His movement in whatever time and form He chooses?

Looking to the one who is able to do "above and beyond all that we could ask or imagine," I want God to move and I want to leave the details up to him. So go ahead, call me a dog. 

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