By Allen White
Then God said to Abraham, "As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you.”
On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him. Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, Genesis 17:9-11, 23-24
I’m not going to spend this devotional examining the particulars of circumcision. But, you have to ask, “Why circumcision? Why not a tattoo, or a shaved head, or a secret handshake?” What we can say about circumcision is that it is personal and painful. While this sign of the covenant doesn’t carry over to the new covenant (Romans 2:27-29), we can all relate to the aspects of our relationship with God that are both personal and at times painful.
When we think about something as massive as God’s covenant with His people, it can seem well beyond us. Either we choose to be part of that covenant or we don’t. Take it or leave it, right? It’s a great deal, but we’re free to pursue other deals if we choose. But, God doesn’t merely relate to a mass of people.
God relates to individuals. God wants a relationship with you and me, and He will ruthlessly pursue us. God is interested in you and me. God wants to be personal with each of us. He doesn’t just want us to know about Him, He wants us to know Him. He wants to hear our prayers, and He wants us to listen to Him. He wants us to serve, and He wants us to stop to be with Him. God is far more interested in us than anything that we could ever do for Him. As St. Augustine said, “God thirsts to be thirsted after.”
At times our relationship with God is painful. The pain is not necessarily punishment for sin. It’s painful to watch as the things we depend on are stripped away to the point that we only depend on God. Sometimes it’s painful to forsake short-term pleasure for long-term character development. It’s painful to release our control and realize that we were never really in control in the first place. It’s painful to surrender our right to be the master and creator of our universe. That’s God’s job too.
What is the tug of war between you and God these days? What are you fighting to hold on to? What would happen if you let go? I’m not asking you to abandon the struggle. I encourage you to work it all of the way through. Don’t put it on the back burner. Figure out what’s going on. Then, take the next step.
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