Our pastor recently taught a sermon on the story of Esau and Jacob. In Genesis 27, we see Esau sell his inheritance to his brother, Jacob for a mere bowl of red stew. In doing this, Esau chose to satisfy his fleshly desire of hunger instead of bearing patiently and receiving a spiritual reward that would have been even greater than a satisfied stomach. Esau would have been part of the lineage of Jesus Christ, but instead, willingly sold it to Jacob. This sermon began a conversation in my home of how we also choose the physical over the spiritual blessings that God has for us. Many times we choose to spend our money on temporary things that rust and break, when we could have chosen to spend it on something with an eternal significance. How we choose to spend our time, in leisure or in service can also have spiritual consequences. Let me clarify that not everything earthly or physical is bad. In fact, scripture tells us in 1 Timothy 4:4, “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” So, not all pleasures are wrong, for God created good things to be enjoyed, but so often we settle for something that is temporary when God has something even better in store for us.
I was recently reminded of this vey concept in my quiet time. For years, I have woken early to study God’s word and to pray. Because I have two children at home, this had often been my only time to be still before the Lord. There have been seasons in my life when this was easy to do and others when it was a daily struggle. Sleeping can be great! In fact, God created us as human beings who need rest. He designed our bodies to sleep, and in fact, God even rested on the seventh day of creation. You see the importance of this in His command to obey the Sabbaths. After having my second child, I remembered feeling so tired that I was not able to wake early. I remember feeling so down and guilty that I could not spend my time with God like I had been before. He showed me a verse in Psalms one morning that spoke volumes to me. Psalm 127:2 says, “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat- for he grants sleep to those he loves.” He really grants sleep to those he loves? This was so freeing to me. This verse spoke of His divine provision. Why sleeplessly toil for those things you need, instead trust in God to give you those things. I learned that at that particular time it was okay for me to sleep. Rest for me was a spiritual gift, and God would provide me with those things that I was seeking from Him.
Recently, however, God showed me a different lesson in choosing to rest. I have begun to struggle with waking early again. The end of the school year is coming, and I am ready for summer. I have found myself snoozing a few extra times and loosing valuable time with my Savior. God recently showed me a passage of scripture out of Isaiah. Isaiah 50:4-5 says, “The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught, the Sovereign Lord has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back.” These verses are actually speaking of our suffering Servant, Jesus, who knew scripture and who used it to encourage the weary Israelites. The Sovereign Lord would awaken him each morning and taught Him his will. Thankfully, Jesus was not rebellious, and He did listen to His Father. God was teaching me in this passage, that unlike Jesus, I was choosing the physical over the spiritual. He was attempting to teach me His word so that I could encourage the weary with it. He was trying to open my ears, and share with me the secrets of His kingdom, and yet I was choosing a few extra minutes of snooze time.
I long to be used by the Lord, and I hunger and thirst for Him to teach me more about Himself. In fact, I believe that He has entrusted me with a gift and with a ministry to other women, and I need to be faithful in that. But, in order for that to happen, I have to choose the spiritual over the physical. For me, that means many things: waking up early so He can instruct me, letting go of some the physical things we spend our money on, such as eating out often, vacation time, expensive clothes, and a fancy car. It also means evaluating the expense of my time, and always asking how is this going to glorify the Lord. When I stand before the Lord, I want to be able to say that I chose well. I hope that I can say I chose Him every opportunity I had, and that I did not waste my life on useless things and endeavors. That might look different for everyone. He does not desire that we all quit our jobs and become missionaries. However, He does desire a heart to serve Him well in everything that we do. His will is for us to glorify His name and further His kingdom, and thereby receive spiritual blessings that surpass any earthly pleasure we can fathom. I urge you, learn to choose the spiritual.