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Discipleship invites us to be guided by Another, to struggle with our own humanity and shortcomings and failure to live our very best lives, and to wisely recognize the voices and actions of those God sends us.  Such are the themes that we meet in this week’s lessons.

Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49—How Much Can Thirty Camels Drink?

This an intriguing story about providential guidance.  The challenge: to find Miss Right for Abraham’s preferred son, Isaac.  But how does the servant pick her out from the shepherdess lineup?   The opportunity: pray, watch, and act.  In simple prayer and action, this emissary of Abraham achieves success on the most important mission of his career—finding a bride for his master’s son.  In the process, the servant discovers not only how many firkins of water thirsty camels can drink, but that God can guide people to the right place and in the right time. 

Romans 7:15-25a—Caught in a Struggle

At this juncture in Romans, Paul dons the hat of a behavioralist and invites us into his office.  Not that he’s interested in applying cognitive therapy or listening to our bad childhood experiences or dreams.  Instead he himself lies on the couch and begins to describe his own personal struggle against “sin” and his inability to do what he knows is the better way.  He observes that the desire to want to do right is too often preempted by another insidious urge to do the opposite.   “Sin,” he admits, keeps him from doing the right thing.  The session ends, however, on an upbeat for this troubled soul:  “Thank God!  The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord!” 

Matthew 11:16-19; 25-30—My Yoke Fits Perfectly

The chapter begins with Jesus’ missionaries scattering into the cities and countryside to heal, resurrect, cure, and serve.   John the Baptist, however, who languishes in prison, sends his own emissaries to question Jesus and the answer assures John that the Good News is being preached.  Such forms the backdrop for our lesson because Jesus lingers around the topic of John the Baptist then shifts to a parable that connects John the Baptist with Jesus as two persons sent from God with very different ways of proclaiming the gospel.  Yet neither one seems to satisfy the crowds.   Only a wise person can discern God’s action in John and Jesus, so Jesus prays a stern prayer of reversal asking God to blind the clever and illuminate the childlike.  Yet Wisdom invites all of us—dullards and the winsome—to take upon them the yoke of discipleship and follow Jesus.