There’s a story (totally fiction) about five Chinese brothers who had basically supernatural abilities. One had an iron neck, one could hold the sea in his mouth, one could hold his breath forever, etc.
The one brother who could swallow the sea would do that when he’d go fishing, and one day a little boy begged to come along. He let him, but told the boy, “When I motion for you to come back, you must come back immediately.” The little boy said he would, and off they went.
The brother swallowed the sea and started gathering fish; the little boy ran around picking up shells and other sea treasures. When the brother motioned for the boy to come back, he refused and even started running in the opposite direction.
The brother could finally hold the sea no longer and it came gushing out, drowning the little boy.
(The story continues, but the rest has nothing to do with what I want to say.)
I was thinking about this story once and how the little boy refused to obey because he was having so much fun finding treasures. I wondered: Are we ever like that with God? He “takes us along” and lets us see amazing/wonderful things, and we run around enjoying it and gathering treasures. Then when He tells us to come, do we refuse because we’re having too much fun? Because we think enjoying the treasures He’s provided are more important than obeying Him?
Maybe we say, “Just some more time, God, I’ll come in a bit.” And He’s gracious and gives us a little more time, then again says, “Come.” And we say, “Just a minute, I want to get that ‘shell’ over there.” He again waits for a moment, then repeats, “Come, let’s go.”
And around and around it goes, and finally we get hurt. We lose that close fellowship with God; Satan attacks. Maybe we have financial or health troubles; maybe we struggle in our relationships with family, friends, or that special someone; maybe we’re physically hurt, like in a car accident. All because we didn’t obey, or didn’t obey immediately.
God tells us to come or to stop, not because He wants to spoil our fun, but because He knows it’s for the best. Do we believe that? Do we obey Him immediately, and not just because we don’t want to get hurt but rather because we love Him and He is our Father God? Or do we enjoy the treasures, the creations, and desire them more than we enjoy and love and desire the Creator?
It’s okay to gather treasures and to enjoy the wonderful things God provides and allows us to have. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that; God wants us to enjoy the things He gives us.
But when He says to come, to leave the fun, to stop gathering up those wondrous shells, then we need to obey. To turn our backs on that exquisite shell over there that really would have been a nice addition to our collection. To ignore that interesting creature just three steps in front of us. To not drag on our feet through the sand, admiring the patterns we make and taking our time getting to Him. To run to Him, not complaining or begging for some more time, but ready to go to wherever He’s taking us.
Because obeying is better than gathering treasures.