Are you listening?

1 Samuel 15:20  ”But I did obey the LORD,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king.”

I opened an old journal tonight and found this verse highlighted. I always wonder what Saul was thinking, how did he not realize that what he was doing was disobeying God rather than obeying.  It seems so obvious in the text that he disobeyed.

The answer is rather simple, I am only able to see what the writer shared and that sharing happened after the event.  The writer knew how it ended and the entire event is only a few sentences.  I can read it so quickly that it makes it seem simple. But a battle would have taken at least an hour and probably longer. He had to gather the troops before he could go, over 200,00 of them.  The attack was not just on one city, so there were several battles. I also have to add in travel time.  If I am conservative, perhaps this process took a week or two from the initial sending message, but it could easily have taken longer.

I point out the timing because it seems this was not an oversight or a small error in judgment on Saul’s part. There was a decision made to bring the king and the animals back, and probably Saul was not the only one who believed this was the best plan of action.  I will give Saul the benefit of the doubt that he was not lying and really did intend to sacrifice the animals. The directions said to kill them, and by using them as a sacrifice it may have seemed to follow God’s directions.

We must accept that it is possible to think we are following the directions God has given us, while disobeying the very directions we intended to follow. This fact keeps me humble, and it keeps me doing one thing very frequently-asking God what I should be doing.

I know there are programs that claim to tell you how God wants you to proceed in labor or how God wants you to raise your children. While I think such programs can be helpful for giving families topics to consider and ideas to explore, I also think it is important to test everything from such programs against the word of God both through the written words of the Bible and the Holy Spirit through prayer. Your areas of strength and weakness may be different from mine.  Your gifts and talents may be different from mine. Because of this, following the steps God has directed for me may lead you to frustration and failure. God has a plan for you and your family that builds on your unique characteristics, and you will not find that plan outlined with handy references in any pregnancy or parenting program (or even one of my books). You will only know it by spending time with God, and listening to what he says.

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