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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Abandoning "same"

Have you ever abandoned your post?  In military terms, the abandonment of one's post refers to leaving a place you were "put" in order to provide some security or overall function to the unit.  You just never did this!  To do so left the door wide open for anyone to penetrate your perimeter of defense, gaining access to your depot of storage, or overtake your companions in arms.  The sentinel (or lookout) was to maintain constant alertness, be vigilant, and remain awake - for the sole purpose of observing for the possible approach of the enemy, or to guard persons, property, or a place and to sound an alert, if necessary.  It was considered a dereliction of duties and was punishable under military court-martial.  Indeed, this is considered a serious offense.

First, there’s the matter of being put in charge of writing down and caring for God’s revelation, these Holy Scriptures. So, what if, in the course of doing that, some of those Jews abandoned their post? God didn’t abandon them. Do you think their faithlessness cancels out his faithfulness? Not on your life! Depend on it: God keeps his word even when the whole world is lying through its teeth. Scripture says the same: Your words stand fast and true; rejection doesn’t faze you.  (Romans 3:2-6 MSG)

Paul makes mention of the special tasks given to the Jewish nation to not only write down the Holy Scriptures, but to preserve them at all cost.  They were "placed at their post", so to speak.  They had a direct order to ensure the Word of God was kept secure, understood, and passed down from generation to generation.  But...some "abandoned their post".  In other words, some did maintain the constant alertness or vigilance toward the task they were given.  They drifted.  In drifting, the defenses of a nation were left very vulnerable.  This very vulnerability resulted in many a decline in the nation of Israel - even captivity to some pretty awful dictators.

I believe we all have some "post" to which we are stationed.  It may be as leaders in our homes, or companions in a journey through grief with a friend who has lost a loved one.  No matter the post, there is a required "vigilance" we must keep.  To abandon this vigilance often means the abandoning of the very defenses which will keep our family free of attack, or that companion in a place of security until they are able to stand strong again.

Paul doesn't point out the "abandoning of post" to point fingers at some individuals in the nation of Israel, or to accuse.  Instead, he reminds us all of the faithfulness of God to "stand watch" when we may let our "watch" drift.  God didn't abandon them and he doesn't abandon us!  Our faithlessness does nothing to dissuade God's faithfulness.  It is his nature to keep his word - to stand his post.  

Have you ever "rejected" some truth in your life?  You know what I mean - God speaks to you through some lesson you are hearing, or book you might be reading.  Then, in just about as quick a way as possible, we begin to think how this "lesson" applies to the person next to you, the one down the block, or the person in the cubicle three down from you at work.  It never occurs to you to look to the lesson as something for you!  Or maybe it does, and you just don't want to "deal with it" right now!  I've been there, so you are not alone!

Abandon has a few synonyms which might just help us understand what Paul was talking about here.  First, abandon means to give up or discontinue because you are discouraged, weary, or maybe you find something too distasteful for you.  It is easy to walk away when you are discouraged or weary, isn't it?  When you find something just too bitter to deal with, you don't want to face it, do you?  So, you would rather abandon it than to face it.  Truth can be this way in our lives - it comes, we find it hard for us to face, so we just shift our focus to something else.  In turn, we are left defenseless.  Nothing puts us at risk more than to know the truth and then choose to ignore it.  If you hear your brakes constantly squealing, that little sensor giving a warning they are wearing low, how silly it would be to ignore the warning.  To do so would leave you defenseless at some point.  

Second, relinquish is a synonym of abandon meaning to give up something we'd rather keep.  It is like when your mom tells you it is time to give up your security blanket, or your favorite thread-bare stuffed animal you have toted everywhere with you.  You just "cannot" give it up!  It has become part of you!  Life just would not be the same without it!  Hmmm...I wonder how much God asks us to relinquish and we simply tell him, "I can't, God!  Life wouldn't be the same without this!"  Maybe it is time to ask God if "the same" is what he is really trying to get us to abandon!  Sometimes I think God is after the very thing which keeps us "the same" and we are telling him, "Nope, I like it this way!"  

Third, and probably most important, renounce is a synonym of abandon meaning to voluntarily make a decision to give something up - to yield, or surrender.  It is often at the point we realize God is after the "same" in our life where we come face-to-face with "renouncing" this "sameness" for whatever God has in store for us.  We renounce our grief, choosing to move on, to explore new ways of experiencing love again.  We renounce our sin, embracing new measures of grace, rising above the patterned responses of our past.  We allow God to disturb our present because he is focused on our future.  

In short, there are two forms of abandoning our post which are not exactly what God has in mind and one which hits the nail right on the head!  We often assume a lot of "posts" in life which are just because they produce the sense of "sameness" in life.  God is after your "same" - in gaining access to our "same" he brings "different" - but it will be a blessing!  Hold on - God's just making his way clearer in your life.  Be alert - remain vigilant.  When he calls for you to abandon your post of "same" - do it!