Saturday, August 24, 2013

Up for the Challenge

For a long time now--to this very day--you have not deserted your fellow Israelites, but have carried out the mission the Lord your God gave you.

-- Joshua 22:3  

John Glenn accepted challenges that few would dare to even consider. The Ohio native joined the Marines, became a fighter pilot and completed nearly 150 combat missions in World War II and the Korean War. Glenn also set a world speed record as a military test pilot and later became an executive at Royal Crown Cola. Years later and still hungering for the challenges of public service, he successfully entered the cutthroat world of national politics through his election to the United States Senate in 1974.

Such accomplishments alone would shine bright on any resume. But Glenn is best known Challengefor something else: saying yes to the challenge of becoming the first American to orbit the earth. Asked later what he was thinking as he sat high atop the NASA rocket that would blast him into space, he replied: "You're thinking you're sitting on top of the most complex machine ever built by man, with a million separate components, all supplied by the lowest bidder."

John Glenn's willingness to accept and overcome great challenges made him a national hero. But while most of us will never become a senator, travel to outer space or run a corporation, we'll still face crucial tests in life. They're challenges that demand hard answers. And the most important one of all is whether or not we'll follow Jesus completely.

God's call comes in many different forms and touches our career, family, money and just about anything else we hold dear. And it can also defy human logic. Let's consider the famous Old Testament story about Abraham and Isaac. After years of fervent prayer, Abraham's wife Sarah finally became pregnant and gave birth to Isaac--even though the couple was very old. Abraham and Sarah were thrilled and grateful for their long-awaited child. But then came God's call.

"Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah," He told Abraham. "Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."

It was a shocking demand. But it also seemed senseless to Abraham because God would never ask for something so precious. (Or would He?)

Even so, Abraham obeyed God in faith, took Isaac to Moriah and built a sacrificial altar. But there's a happy ending to the story. Just as Abraham raised his knife to slay Isaac, one of God's angels called out.

"Don't hurt the boy or harm him in any way!" the angel said. "Now I know that you truly obey God, because you were willing to offer him your only son."

Being a faith-filled Christ-follower often means that we must venture into the unknown. Let's remember, however, that God's plans and promises (the "Big Picture") always extend beyond our immediate line of sight. Human knowledge is limited. But what we do know is that He'll always provide for us when we say yes to Him. And not necessarily with what we want or expect, but instead with what we really need to be up for the challenge.

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