Julie and I have just returned from our annual visit to a great little retreat center in North Georgia that is free for pastors and missionaries. This year our visit was … well, strange, with highs and lows and a few weird things thrown in.
North Georgia has a lot of attractions, like kayaking and tubing, winery tours and gold panning. And a legal moonshine distillery – I know, that sounds like an oxymoron, but bear with me – that offers tours. And they had a Groupon deal on a tour for two. And I had a 50 percent off Groupon coupon. So while most of the activities here are outside our price range, the price of this one nearly evaporated.
So it sounded like a hoot to learn about hooch, you know?
We got there right after they opened at 11 a.m. on a weekday. “There,” by the way, is the Dawsonville, Georgia, municipal building. I kid you not. City hall is on one side, the distillery on the other. What a mash-up! As I had hoped, 11 a.m. is early for most moonshine aficionados, so Julie and I got a private tour.
And a spirited tour it was.
The gentleman on duty was one of those down-home country folk who might take offense if we called him a gentleman to his face. Or at least feel like we were being standoffish. He sure wasn’t. He treated us like new friends as he told us about the craft of making moonshine, answered our (sometimes stupid) questions with Southern hospitality and grace, and regaled us with stories from his family’s two centuries of making moonshine.
Yeah, two hundred years.
His family, he said, has always made a quality product, using only locally grown Georgia corn, wild yeast and fresh water from local creeks and springs. “We do it the same way today,” he told us, “only now we pay taxes.”
My thoughts condensed on that.
Outside of prohibition, when alcohol was illegal, wouldn’t it have made more sense to pay the taxes?
I mean, think about the cost of hiding everything you’re doing; of running moonshine into town – and having it and cars confiscated and drivers arrested; of spending five or ten years in jail.
They were making a quality product, and they had a market. Why not simply pay the taxes?
Mostly, I suspect folks in those parts would say, “heritage.” Not just making moonshine, but defying the government. Doing it their way.
And then it hit me like a bolt of white lightning …
Aren’t we often just like moonshiners when it comes to obedience to God?
Sometimes I think we look at the cost of obedience the same way we look at taxes: something dreadful, to be avoided if at all possible. And obedience usually requires us to change, and we sure don’t want to do that. We like to do it our way.
Sometimes we even turn into moonshiners, proud of our defiance and independence and – we think – freedom.
So let me distill the truth for you: It always just plain makes more sense to obey God.
Always remember that God doesn’t require your obedience to accomplish His purposes. Nothing can stop Him. He’ll simply pass the opportunity on to someone else.
Yes, I wrote, “opportunity.”
God gives you and me opportunities because He desires to grow us and bless us. Because He loves us. The cost of obedience is real, and sometimes it’s huge. But He has something far better waiting for you.
Want proof? It’s in the Word. It’s in the lives of obedient men and women around you. And it’s waiting for you.
Opportunities to …
Pray: As we mentioned, Julie and I have just returned from a retreat in North Georgia. We came back with assurance of our calling, a renewed desire to drive hard to the finish, and a determination to help others get involved and be blessed by the amazing things God is doing. Praise God with us for His obvious presence and care for us in our time here. Pray that He will sustain our drive to serve Him. Pray that people will be receptive to the opportunities we present. And, will you drop us a note to let us know you prayed? Or to let us know you want in on the opportunities?
Give: Shepherd’s Refuge is the wonderful retreat that has hosted us and many other missionaries and pastors free of charge. They can do that because people who care about the well-being of pastors and missionaries give to make their ministry possible. Would you please prayerfully consider a gift to Shepherd’s Refuge?
Learn: Seven reasons to partner in a missionary’s ministry is something I’ve drafted to help people understand what the Bible says about the topic. It may be something we use to help equip folks to advocate for missionaries. Would you please take a look at it and let me know what you think?