“Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.” 1 Chronicles 4:9-10
I’ve been challenged the past couple of days. First on Sunday we sang the worship song “Oceans: Where Feet May Fail.” The bridge of this song is possibly the most challenging worship/prayer I’ve ever voiced.
“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior”
Then on Monday a study guide I’m going through (Prayer and the Word of God by Cynthia Bezek) reminded me of ‘The Prayer of Jabez‘ and caused me to look again at that passage in 1st Chronicles. I looked at the Hebrew words and saw that the word Jabez’s mother used for ‘pain’ also can be translated ‘idol – something fashioned for worship.’ Jabez lived in a time when idolatry was rampant. As you read through the history of Israel you read over and over again of the setting up and tearing down of idols. As Jabez grew to manhood, he focused his life on the God of Israel. In Hebrew his asking for blessing is very emphatic – in essence he says ‘Oh that You would bless me, bless me.’ He asks for enlarged territory and for God’s presence – that God’s hand would keep him from evil that he might not be harmed. The words that end up translated ‘that I will be free from pain’ in the NIV version of this passage can also be translated ‘to carve, fabricate or fashion.’ I sense behind Jabez’s request a desire that evil would not be the thing that shapes his life, but rather that his life would be shaped by the presence and hand of God. Isn’t the simple line “And God granted his request” amazing? God delights in giving additional territory to those who carry His presence with them. Giving ground to those who are hand in hand with Him is giving ground to Himself and His Kingdom.
I’m challenged today to walk hand in hand with the Lord entering into the boundary expanding opportunities He puts before me. He has expanded my boundaries before, sometimes taking me to places I would never chose to go because pain was part and parcel of the new place. Today I am oh so comfortable in the blessings He has given me. Today I choose to see these blessings as gifts from His hand and to stand ready to walk wherever He invites me to walk – even if that means the terrifyingly exhilarating experience of walking on water.
“Lord – open my eyes to see You calling me to walk on the water of my life. Give me courage to follow You into the seemingly small, insignificant acts of service and love You set before me … or into the terrifyingly huge acts of obedient love You set before me. Define my life for Your purposes and delight. Give me the sure knowledge that You will be enough … it will be enough … I will be enough as I follow You. In the Name of Jesus – the Son who first followed You!”