Have you ever set out to accomplish something that seemed beyond you, or perhaps were asked to do something you didn’t understand the significance of? Sometimes significance can be daunting – at other times, we don’t even recognise it and dismiss its value.
Acknowledging the significance of accomplishing a task will help us to accomplish it to its full potential.
Do you know the story in 1 Kings 13 about ‘the man of God’ and ‘the old prophet’? This story raises so many questions for me, and the terms the bible gives these men are interesting – but rather than look at any of that, sorely, at this moment, I’m interested in a more direct lesson.
A ‘man of God’ was sent to complete a task, and after he was faithful in accomplishing it, God told Him not to delay in returning home, and even told him which way to return.
First lesson – God instructed the man of God clearly. The man of God heard him and set out to follow those instructions faithfully.
But on his return home, an ‘old prophet’ went after him and persuaded the man of God to come back to his home for a meal.
Second lesson – the man of God got distracted and listened to someone else, rather than God.
When they were eating and drinking, the old prophet stood up and prophesied condemnation on the man of God for disobeying God. The man of God finished eating and drinking and then got up to return home.
Third lesson - instead of stopping immediately and repenting to God, the man of God finished eating and drinking. Why didn’t he stop straight away and repent? Perhaps he wasn't sorry. He had discussed and been persuaded, then he had participated where he shouldn't. He had thought about it and decided on his own course. He went ahead and finished his meal of disobedience.
Lawrence J. Peter (a man who came up with a widely used set of business management tools called the Peter principle) said, "If you don't know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else."
Perhaps the man of God didn’t realise the significance of following God’s plan because he ended up somewhere else. Perhaps he still had to learn how to embrace God's greatness.
Moving away from that story, I think about shepherd boy turned King David. God anointed David to be King at an early age but that plan wasn’t fulfilled for another 15 years. During that time, he suffered through desperate testing. But along that journey, he was significant to others. He was set on God's course for him and God used him even before he reached where he knew he was going.
Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit and sent out into the desert to be tested by Satan for 40 days before entering His ministry. The purpose for His life on earth was accomplished through His willingness to patiently obey through the small things each day. Those small things to Him, were significant to those He touched.
Although King David and Jesus Christ suffered in their journey towards the fulfillment of God’s plan, part of the plan was in the suffering. Their suffering developed perseverance within them, an unshakable tenacity, and that perseverance developed the character they needed to be able to accomplish God’s ultimate plan. Along their journey, they significantly touched people’s lives.
Fourth lesson - even along their journey of suffering, God was using them significantly in the lives of people around them.
Don’t we want that to be said about us as well?
The man of God in 1 Kings 13 got distracted, and his life ended in his disobedience.
Sometimes we may wilfully ignore what we know to be right. We may also neglect pursuing what it is God has called us to complete.
Fifth lesson - if we ignore the small tugs of the Holy Spirit, we’ll never fulfil, or even perceive, our purpose.
Luke 16:10 (YLT)
He who is faithful in the least, is also faithful in much;
I can be a bit like that man of God. I believe God’s voice when I hear it. I start out with great determination to be obedient but I can be easily distracted if I listen to doubts and challenges along the way. I have to be tenacious in what I know God’s spoken to me about and remain steadfast. And remain steadfast. And remain steadfast… until God says I’ve completed the work He’s called me to do.
I remember asking God in complete frustration, “how long Lord?!” about something He kept asking of me for someone else. I couldn’t see the significance. His response was clear and immediate. “Until it’s done.”
I had to be faithful and trust God had His reasons. God is so much greater than me. I don't see what He sees. What's the reason for a little puffy cloud in the sky? We don't know. But God does. At some point in time, on some place on earth, that little cloud is going to become rain.
Revelation 3:2 says, “Wake up and strengthen what remains, which was about to die; for I have found your deeds incomplete in the sight of My God.” (BSB)
Obedience is paramount. Diligence is necessary.
There is a great definition for diligence on a site called AV1611 KJV Dictionary definition.
DILIGENCE, n. L., to love earnestly; to choose.
1. Steady application in business of any kind; constant effort to accomplish what is undertaken; exertion of body or mind without unnecessary delay or sloth; due attention; industry; assiduity.
I have a handful of friends, and my son, who show diligence to me. They are significant in God's orchestration in my life. As challenges have arisen and discouragement has come, each person has been faithful in the little things. Sometimes they've known it. Other times they haven't. Each one of us will be rewarded in heaven for the part we play in accomplishing God’s plan in each other’s lives. What we choose this day will have ripple effects.
Never discount the little things.
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honoured,” says the Lord.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,
1 Chronicles 28:20
King David said to his son Solomon, "Be confident and determined. Start the work and don't let anything stop you. The LORD God, whom I serve, will be with you. He will not abandon you, but he will stay with you until you finish the work to be done on his Temple.