Unacceptable – What do you think when you hear that word? Disheartened? Anxious? Unacceptable. If you’re anything like me – human – you’ve experienced ‘unacceptable’. No matter how much effort I put into an activity, I never get it right the first time; don’t achieve perfection; concede to the do over. It’s tempting to affix the label ‘unacceptable’ to the whole project and just give up. Consider this with me for a moment. Sometimes we pray for God to give us direction, to open the right doors, and to show us his will. Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will direct your path. We want clear direction, not foggy instruction. We want these words in Isaiah 30:21 to apply to the decision making process. “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” How much easier it would be to hear “This is the way…”
How do you think Joseph and Mary felt about the angel’s message to them back in Matthew 1:18-24? Joseph finds out his fiancé is pregnant! “…before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.” Totally ‘unacceptable’! But then Joseph realized that even though this wasn’t the way he had it planned, God had a different idea. In verse 24 “Joseph did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.” Unacceptable?
What about Lazarus? Do you remember that Jesus had a good friend, Lazarus who was very sick? You can read the full story in John 11 but here’s a recap. His sisters, Mary and Martha, sent messengers to Jesus with an urgent plea for him to come at once, but verse 6 says “Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, he remained in the place where he was for two more days.” OK wait a minute! That is totally “unacceptable”. Verse 3 of John 11 says “Lord, look, the one you love is sick” yet Jesus dragged his feet and stayed right where he was until it was too late. John 11:14 Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died.” Can’t you feel the anguish; maybe even anger? Unacceptable! But was it really? The story has a happy ending. Fast forward to verse 43 where Jesus is at the tomb of Lazarus and he shouts “Lazarus, come out! And he who was dead came out.” Unacceptable? John 11:45 assures us that it was not. “Then many of the people, who had come with Mary and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in him.”
How do you think Joseph felt in Genesis 37:23 “When Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing— and they took him and threw him into the cistern.” That’s crazy. Talk about unacceptable! If you know the story, Joseph lived a roller coaster life of premier successes and cruelest defeats. Unacceptable – until we get to Genesis 39. Verse 3 reveals “the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did”. And that’s just the beginning. Verse 9 when he was being lured by Potiphar’s wicked wife, Joseph rejects her because he is honorable to his master and true to his God. “No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” But Joseph’s story doesn’t end there, does it? The life of Joseph didn’t stop at that ‘unacceptable’ act of his brothers selling him into slavery or the deception of his master’s wife. Genesis 45 finally shows us where God’s path was leading all along. Verse 4 shows the restoration of the family. “Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.”
We live with perplexing circumstances, situations that baffle us. We don’t want to hear ‘unacceptable’. We plead with God to make his way known to us. We pray like David prayed in Psalm 19:14 “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
Today, let’s look beyond what we fear is unacceptable and give God our best. Our best is never unacceptable to Him. Jeremiah 6:16 This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.
Ready? Let’s get out there!