Ever have trouble obeying God? It seems to be the case for me these past couple of weeks. It isn't that I don't want to obey, but rather, my inability to; or more specifically, my lack of faith in God to obey Him. I suppose this sermon could very well go hand-in-hand with my previous two sermons (see "Trusting God" and "Love God, Love People), because obedience must come from two things: trust in God, and also a love for God. It probably plays a lot into what Jerry has been teaching lately as well (about "complete surrender"). Obedience is part of giving it all to Christ.
For me at least it seems that obeying God can have many different aspects. Sometimes, it simply doesn't make sense. Look at Joshua for instance, the Commander of the army of the LORD comes to him and tells him (Joshua 6:3-5):
"... March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams' horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in."
When I look at these instructions I have to wonder, what in the world was God thinking? Or, more importantly, what was Joshua thinking? To him, it must have seemed absurd. I can just see it now, "So we are supposed to just walk around a wall, and scream? Are you sure?" But Joshua believed and because of that Jericho fell, and Israel won the victory.
Why can't we be willing to believe God when He tells us to do something, despite what it looks like? I have been asking myself this a lot lately.
Sometimes, obedience means doing something you don't want to do. This has been especially true for me. These past few weeks have been very humbling in this area of my life. I'm beginning to see that if I don't swallow my pride, I would not grow in my relationship with God. Because of that I have had to write one of the hardest letters I ever wrote to my parents, and it all had to do with my obedience to God and not on anything they did. Learning to trust God with the decisions He makes for you can sometimes be some of the hardest things you do, but God blesses you for that obedience.
Take a look a Paul; In Acts you find that Paul wants to go to Asia at one point for his ministry, but God points Paul in a completely different direction than what Paul wants. So, sometimes we just need to be flexible in our plans. I know God has already done this with me, multiple times this summer concerning weddings, LIFE, college, etc. I missed three weddings that I really wanted to go to, and went to one that involved a couple that I did not know at all. That has changed since then, and it's nothing against them at all, it is merely a good example of how the need to be flexible has been true in my life lately. Another good example would be of what I said in a previous post; giving an extra $50 for missions. I hadn't planned on it, but I needed to be flexible and willing to follow God no matter what the outcome may look like. It is for that reason that I am here, interning under Jerry, trying to figure out what the Christian life looks like, and how to live it.
Yes, I do KNOW what it is supposed to look like, but how does it look in my personal life? This is a question that I seek an answer to.
Sometimes, we must obey God in the face of adversity. To follow God, knowing it will end in what may seem to be bad for us. Acts 21 talks about Paul hearing God's call to go to Jerusalem, so he decides to go. On his way there people prophecy over him, telling him he would be chained up and held captive, but Paul stood strong in his conviction and obeyed God in the midst of all the adversity. I believe it was a test to see how much resolve Paul had to obeying God, and if he would fulfill the calling despite the revelation that was given to the prophets who shared that message with him. In the same way we need to continue to obey the call, or whatever God is telling us to do in the face of trials, tribulations, and discouragement.
Above all, obedience to God means denying yourself. It means learning how to walk in the "sacrificial life"; giving our hopes, dreams, fears, and wants over to God and letting Him have complete control. And that is where I am fighting myself the most it seems. I want to be broken, I want to be emptied, so that I can understand the "abundant life"; but my reflexes and body scream against my will, they shout in protest, and, in the end, I keep dodging the brunt of the hammer and only get nicked where I should have shattered. I need to stand still, and, oddly, all this is just a way to see the glory of God in my life. Ultimately, that is my purpose as the creation, to glorify God. And the more I realize where I can improve, the more I learn, the more I give, and the more I obey, the closer I grow to God.
Will you join me in this pursuit?