A story goes that a young naval ensign took his first cruise overseas, and it was his responsibility once overseas to command the vessel back toward the US. Well, he spouted out commands and managed to get that huge ship turned around, but as they were sailing out, a seaman walked up to him with a radio note from the captain that read, "My personal congratulations. You completed the exercise according to the book at amazing speed. In your haste, however, you overlooked one of the unwritten rules: make sure the captain is aboard before getting underway."
That's the key to living the Christian life: make sure God is on board and calling the shots. This principle pops up in the life of Abraham. God made a covenant with Abraham and required something unusual of him.
In Genesis 17, God said, "This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised'" (v. 10). Abraham was Semitic, so he knew that every contract must be sealed with some outward demonstration, but I doubt this is what he had in mind. At ninety-nine years old, he was probably thinking, Nobody told me old age would be this tough. Nonetheless, he obeyed (see vv. 23-27).
In the same way, we must permit God to speak into our lives, even if we don't like what He has to say to us. It's funny how we gravitate toward certain promises in the Bible and avoid others completely. We love texts like Philippians 4:19—"My God shall supply all your need"—but then we shy away from promises like "In the world you will have tribulation" (John 16:33).
That brings us to an even greater point: some people who call themselves Christians don't really allow God to speak into their lives. They have devised certain barriers to keep that from happening. They'll read Bible passages they like and avoid those they don't like, read books and articles that tickle their fancy and stay away from the edgy types, or listen to a sermon until it gets uncomfortable and then tune out.
When are we going to allow God to be God and let Him speak His truth into our lives? The writer of Hebrews said, "The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12). Sometimes God's Word goes for the jugular, doesn't it? Even so, we can't erect barriers, tune it out, or think it's for somebody else. Rather, we must say, "God, what are You trying to tell me?"
Take a moment to think about your life. Maybe that naval ensign describes you: you're charging through life at breakneck speed, but the problem is that God's not aboard. Maybe you need to stop and listen; you need the Lord to speak His truth to you so that you can respond to it. Wherever you find yourself today, would you allow God's Word to penetrate your heart and let Him call the shots in your life?