I’ve been pondering the interesting ways God leads his disciples. Specifically, how God pushes you and I out the door to enter into something we are naturally averse to or terrified of. Sometimes God downright kicks us out the door into his purposes! God bring a series of unavoidable events into our path that pushes you and I to alter our course for his divine purposes. Am I right?
A close friend of mine was musing on this same thought a few months ago as he observed his backyard flock of chickens. Everyday when he opened the chicken coop there was one particular hen who was hesitant to jump the 1 1/2 feet to the ground. She would nervously pace back and forth as the rest of the flock spread out over the yard snapping up morning worms and other treats. There, she would nervously shift from one foot to the other; her claws testing the very edge of the door. Eventually she would make a half-attempt, but then- like a bungee jumper with a sudden burst of remorse- she would try to undo the inevitable. The result: a great flap of feathers and a hallabalu of squawking as the silly hen fell the whole 1 1/2 feet to the grass below. How ridiculous!! So comical to watch. Yet we are not much different than a reluctant chicken. So afraid to respond to God’s obvious calling until, it seems, we simply finally fall into his purpose that we should have embraced a long time ago. Psalm 32:9 says “Don’t be like the horse or mule which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you” God prefers not to pull us out. The “bit and bridle” is his grace for our weak faith. It is the prod of the shepherds guiding staff.
Consider Peter’s dilemma: to reach or not to reach the gentiles with the gospel. This was an unprecedented thing to do for the fledgling New Testament church. God prepared Peter with a dream. The dream was a very clear and directional. It was undeniable. Peter was not particularly keen on it though, nevertheless it was clear. Without a chance to justify or rationalize away the risks of this call. God immediately sent the servants of Cornelius the centurion to his house. Imagine Peter looking down from that rooftop and seeing Cornelius’ servants arriving. He had good cause to be like that nervous hen looking down from her coop.
My friend engage these moments…humbly receive them. It is often an inglorious and very humbling thing to follow the prompting of the Spirit of God. We prefer the grace and poise of a confident and calculated decision. We like the stability and safety of engaging only what we have mastered. Come off your throne before God knocks you off your throne! How does He do that? With a “bit and bridle.” Other parts of scripture describe it like a “hook in the jaw.” We do well to remember that in God’s eyes “falling out of the chicken coop” is not normal. It is infantile; a sign of immature faith. Neither does God like to use the bit and bridle, the hook, or a swift kick to the behind. What pleases God’s heart is an enthusiastic response to His voice by faith! Stuff your agenda! God’s is better, way better.
The thing about teetering on the edge and falling off is that, at the time, we most often don’t even recognize that it was part of God’s purpose to start with! Stop now and ask yourself: Do I often play the “victim card” when things don’t go your way? Are you chocking God’s discipline and direction up for bad luck? Worse: are you cloaking chaos in your life as if you are nobly “carrying your cross.” I’m convinced that God sovereignly does things in our life whether we like it or not. Still, we fill our lives with all kinds of chaos and pain because we did not recognize his voice, did not trust His good hand and did not embrace His move . Be careful that you soberly consider your ways. Humble yourself and trust the masters’ voice. Furthermore you may not even know the master’s voice. So God patiently has to bring out the bit and bridle to tutor us. When he puts the bit and bridle on you, listen for His tender voice. Take advantage of that moment to submit yourself to his purpose in it and exercise your ears for his voice. Remember these experience and keep them as a fixed point of reference in your heart when God speaks. You will remember His hand on you and His voice. Write it down even. Familiarize yourself with him. Make it your desire to recognize his voice earlier in the game next time and respond before the bit an bridle come out. God isn’t pleased with babysitting your every move. He doesn’t want to carry you like an infant here and there. He wants to put you on your own two feet and have you follow him. Don’t be the reluctant hen fumbling and flapping its way to the ground over and over through life. It brings no glory to God. In fact you defame God’s name before the nations by doing this. We often times declare God unfit to trust by our responses in life. We demonstrate it to the world by the chaotic way we cope during trials.
“My sheep know my voice” Jesus said. Do you know Jesus voice? When was the last time you clearly heard and earnestly responded by faith to the moving of the Spirit? A sheep that comes at the masters beckoning brings much more glory to the master. Why? Because, observers will take note that that sheep has been with the Master Shepherd, has been well trained and that sheep has full trust in Him. Likewise more honour is given to the builder of a magnificent home than the home itself receives(Heb 3:3).
To be sure Peter had plenty to “keep him in the coop” but he didn’t. Scripture says, “Peter went down and said the men, ‘I’m the one you’re looking for.'” He went down without the “bit and bridle.” Lets determine to go down without the bit and bridle and experience the wonder of walking freely and joyful with God into all that he has planned for us.