Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

How to Obey God

Hi Friends!

Last night Bryan and I started studying the Gospel of Mark with our two oldest, Bethany and Joelle.  We printed out the first few chapters on regular paper, double-spaced, got out a bunch of colored pens, and dug in to the text.  What we found is that God wants to baptize us with the Holy Spirit - He wants to change us from the inside out.  Our job is not to change ourselves through sheer willpower.  We only need to make straight paths for God's Spirit by confessing, repenting, and letting GOD do the work in our hearts.  

So as I've been pondering what we talked about, I was reminded of this story:

It was the size of a watermelon.  A very large watermelon.  I stuck my hand through the huge hole in the screen door and hollered for my husband.  “Aren’t you ever going to fix this screen?”  

I heard mumbling from the other room.


“Maybe this weekend,” Bryan yelled back.

This weekend?  Was he crazy?  A hundred flies would buzz through the hole before then.  Or a mouse could get through.  Or even the neighbor’s cat.  I stood up and put my hands on my hips.  “I want to do it now.”

“Go ahead,” Bryan answered.  “The new screen’s in the garage.”

It wasn’t exactly the answer I was hoping for, but I wasn’t going to wait any longer.  “Fine,” I grumbled, “I’ll do it myself.  No problem.”  I slapped my hands together and headed for the garage.  There, as promised, was the brand new hole-less screen.  

I tromped back into the house with the screen in my hand.  Within minutes I had the door removed and the old screen out and thrown away.  Now all I had to do was squeeze the new screen into the metal frame and replace the door.  It seemed like a simple task.  

I laid the screen on the frame and pushed, and shoved, and tweaked, and groaned.  But the screen wouldn’t stay in the frame.  Finally, I took a butter knife and tried to wedge the mesh into the thin crease.  I pushed the screen in.  It came out.  I pushed it in sideways.  It came out again.  I smashed the stainless steel knife into the mesh and pushed it into the frame with all my might.  It stayed in for a moment, then slipped out.  For forty-five minutes I tried everything I could think of to squeeze the screen into the frame, but nothing work.

Finally, I threw the butter knife onto the ground.  “I can’t do this!” I shrieked.  “It’s impossible!”

Bryan ambled into the room.  “What’s wrong?”

I sniffed back tears of frustration.  “I can’t get this stupid screen into the frame.”  I grabbed the butter knife and stabbed it in Bryan’s direction.

He grinned.  “You’re using a butter knife?”

I crossed my arms.  “Yeah.  So?”

“There’s a tool for that, you know.”

I glared at him.  “You’re kidding.”

“We can go over to Home Depot and pick it up now, if you want.”

“Of course I want to,” I shouted.

Ten minutes later we were standing before a bin of 79-cent tools.  I stared at the small plastic sticks attached to miniature wheels.  “This is it?” I asked.

“That’s it,” Bryan smiled.

Less than a dollar later, Bryan and I were headed home with tool in hand.  Once I got back, changing the screen took only a few seconds. I couldn’t believe how my impossible task had suddenly become so easy.  All because I had the proper tool.

Sometimes I feel like following God, and obeying his will, is a lot like changing a window screen.  Without the right tool, it’s almost impossible.  I like to think that I can obey God through sheer will power.  But after struggling, groaning, and trying with all my might, I find the hole-filled screen of my life far from fixed.  What I need is not the butter knife of will power, but the new heart that God promises.  I need to lay down my self-sufficiency and pick up complete reliance on God.  I need to stop thinking that I can fulfill God’s dreams for me if I just try hard enough.  Instead, I must depend on the right tool – on God’s grace and mercy in my life.  Only then will I be able to accomplish the tasks God has for me.  

Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV) says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”  Through grace, God gives me what I need to obey Him.  He only asks that I be willing to give up my old heart of stone . . . or in this case, of stainless steel!