Let’s make our primary New Year’s Resolution: I will not Labanize!
You don’t know the word Labanize?! You probably don’t since I’m the one who invented it (as far as I know) a few years ago and haven’t published it except in an article in a church newspaper! What is Labanizing and why do I not want to do it? Please read on!
I write and speak frequently about the benefits of various spiritual disciplines such as daily time with God or the importance of being on mission, but often I encounter people who smile and nod but don’t ever get started. Many of us are like Laban in Genesis 24.
Genesis 24 contains the beautiful story of Abraham’s (unnamed) servant who undertakes a long and treacherous journey to find a wife for Abraham’s son, Isaac. It’s a story of faith, prayer, sovereignty of God, and guidance. After he encounters Rebekah, the wife-to-be, the servant tells Rebekah’s mother and Rebekah’s brother, Laban, the story of God’s leading. He concludes with:
I praised GOD, the God of my master Abraham who had led me straight to the door of my master’s family to get a wife for his son. (Genesis 24:48, MSG)
But the question is, will Rebekah’s family let her go? The servant needs to know:
“Now, tell me what you are going to do. If you plan to respond with a generous yes, tell me. But if not, tell me plainly so I can figure out what to do next.” (Genesis 24:49, MSG)
What is Laban’s response? Is he opposed to Rebekah’s returning with the servant to become a bride for Isaac? Apparently not:
Laban answered, “This is totally from GOD. We have no say in the matter, either yes or no. Rebekah is yours: Take her and go; let her be the wife of your master’s son, as GOD has made plain.” (Genesis 24:50 – 51, MSG)
So the servant prepared to do just that, but notice Laban’s reaction:
[The servant] and his men had supper and spent the night. But first thing in the morning they were up. He said, “Send me back to my master.”
[Laban] said, “Let the girl stay a while, say another ten days, and then go.” (Genesis 24:54 – 55, MSG)
Laban was all for Rebekah’s leaving as long as she didn’t have to leave now. “Why isn’t later all right? No need to rush into these things. There are preparations to be made, parties to give. We have to get used to the idea….”
It didn’t work on the servant.
He said, “Oh, don’t make me wait! GOD has worked everything out so well—send me off to my master.” (Genesis 24:56, MSG)
How about us? How often do we “Labanize”? We say, “I can see why daily time with God is a good thing, but I don’t have time right now. Maybe later.” “I know I should be involved in mission, but I really don’t have time either to do it or to learn how to do it.”
How many practices are we wildly enthusiastic about as long as we don’t have to do them now? (In addition to spiritual disciplines, diet and exercise come to mind!) How many good ideas for change do we endorse as long as they don’t have to be implemented now? What personal sacrifices are we willing to make—just not right now?
Let’s make 2017 the year we quit Labanizing and get started! I have written a little book, Join the Adventure! A Practical Guide to Mission and Discipleship for Everyone. You can read about it and order it by clicking the Join the Adventure tab at the top of this page. One key idea is starting small—pushing over the ¼-inch domino that sets off a great chain reaction. And this blog is not meant to be a book promotion! There is enough information on the Join the Adventure tab to get you started whether you buy the book or not!