Rule of Engagement: Pray! Truth! Action!

I got married WAY too fast. I like to live my life going Mach 2 with my hair on fire. I had her in my sights. She saw me move in for the kill. I proceeded below the hard-deck. I was below for just a few seconds. I had the shot. There was no danger, so I took it…AND BROKE A MAJOR RULE OF ENGAGEMENT.

My pastor at the time had taught me his major rule of engagement…he called it the “4-Seasons Rule”:

“Date her for all four seasons of the year before you think about getting married. You have to discern whether she’s the right target and whether it’s the right time to engage.”

I’ve come to understand the logic behind the practicality of the 4-Seasons Rule. Prior to engagement, one should first PRAY, then allow time for God to reveal the TRUTH, and then—and only then—should you take ACTION!

For the past two months, I’ve been studying Genesis—and more specifically—the patriarchs during my quiet time. I’ve decided to spend the next forty days prior to Palm Sunday comparing the exodus of God’s people from slavery in Egypt to their Promised Land: “freedom in Canaan” to our own exodus from the slavery of sin to our Promised Land: “freedom in Christ.”

This morning I read the first two chapters of Exodus. I encountered a ruthless king who was so worried about an uprising and a possible coup d’état, he issued a decree to murder all the baby boys that had the potential to validate those concerns. I encountered a deliverer—a savior—who escaped that king’s decrees. As I read on, I encountered a flawed human being who tried to embrace his purpose, but misinterpreted it. Moses knew deep down—in his very being—that God was calling him to deliver the people of Israel long before he stood before the burning bush on Mt. Horeb:

“One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”

—Exodus  2:11-13

Moses wanted to save his people from the tyranny of slavery. He wanted to deliver them and teach them to stop fighting among themselves and instead fight for the freedom they deserved. Moses was a savior who was unwilling to wait on God to guide him through the proper channels to deliver his people. Instead, Moses imposed his own will on that purpose and failed miserably at accomplishing it. The result was exile. Fearing for his life, Moses escaped to Midian and settled down as a simple shepherd at the foot of Mt. Horeb.

I love DreamWorks Animation’s The Prince of Egypt. It’s one of my favorite animated films. The movie begins with a great song sung by Ofra Haza called “Deliver Us”.

While in bondage, the people of Israel probably prayed something very similar to the aforementioned song. God had made a covenant with their ancestors and it appeared to the Israelites that He wasn’t showing up…God wasn’t doing anything to ease their misery.

It had been 430 years. I get upset if God doesn’t answer my prayers after a week.

While Moses was tending his father-in-law’s sheep in Midian, God finally—after over 400 years of slavery—heard the prayers of His people, remembered His covenant with them, and looked upon His people with concern. I love how The Message paraphrases the final verses of Exodus 2:

“Years passed, and the king of Egypt died. But the Israelites continued to groan under their burden of slavery. They cried out for help, and their cry rose up to God. God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act.”

—Exodus 2:23-25

IT WAS TIME TO ACT!

This year at Faith Church, one of our staff assignments was to choose a verse from the Bible and meditate on that verse (or a portion of that verse) every day. I chose 1 Peter 5:6-7:

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Today, I latched on to the last part of verse six, “he may lift you up in due time.”

When Jesus’ mom wanted him to turn water into wine at the wedding in Cana, Jesus answered her saying, “Woman,why do you involve me? My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4). Unlike Moses, Jesus knew when it was time to act and when it wasn’t. Jesus knew His purpose and He had insight into God’s divine timing.

Part of the gift of the Holy Spirit is that we also have insight into God’s divine timing. Because of the Holy Spirit living in us, we have a better grasp on when it’s the right time to act…and when it’s the wrong time to act. Before his arrest, Jesus said the following about the Holy Spirit:

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

—John 16:13-15

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and His defeat over death brought us an amazing gift—the Holy Spirit. Through prayer, Jesus promised us that the Holy Spirit would guide us into truth…and that truth would then lead us into acting and fulfilling our purpose at the right time. By tapping in God’s truth and timing through constant prayer, we will discern the perfect time to act. By praying to the Holy Spirit who thrives within our hearts for discernment and truth, we won’t break a major rule of engagement as I did with my first marriage, as Maverick did when he shot down Jester, or as Moses did when he murdered the Egyptian slave master. Instead, we’ll embrace our purpose, thrive as God’s instruments, and become the wingmen Jesus always wanted!

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