This summer has been a time of remembering. Remembering what is important and what is real, while at the same time standing amongst all that is happening around me. In me. Life is messy. It’s confusing and complicated and disappointing and sometimes just really, really hard.
Sometimes it’s hard to know the right things to do or the right places to go. We see signs everywhere but nothing is clear; Confusing, complicated, disappointing and hard. Obedience is all of these things. Have you ever felt led to do something that was going to interrupt your life and yet you couldn’t shake the feeling it was right? Something that didn’t make sense in regard to your comfort, schedule or your convenient plans? Perhaps it didn’t fit with the vision you had for your future or the exact group you thought you should reach. Or it required you to let go of something of great value for next to nothing at all?
While I’ve been savoring summer and embracing FUN, I’ve been walking through this very season. One filled with a whole lot of questions and not many answers. A season packed with follow me, but not a lot of direction where. So while I’ve been saying yes and walking through all the confusing, messy details it entails, I’ve also been trying to hold hands with simple things. The things I know are real and true. Like three little boys who still want to snuggle their mom, and a God who knows and sees and promises He will provide. I look ahead and see uncertainty, but I look behind me and all I see is faithfulness. How could I say no?
Sometimes the hard thing and the right thing are the same thing.
A few weeks ago I was running at one of my favorite places. It’s tucked into the banks of an enormous and beautiful lake, each turn revealing another breathtaking view. It’s boulders and technical terrain persuade me to ponder the hard things, while it’s panoramic vistas remind me of the beauty all around me. Running has always been the place of transformation and healing for me. When life was hard and my future was unsure, running offered me a new way to see. I always say I found God on the street and it’s true. Somewhere in the middle of a thousand miles He opened my eyes to metaphor and the way our lives, our hopes, dreams, fears, and failures all intersect. Where each one is vital to the whole. How vulnerability makes us strong. How saying yes in spite of all the confusing intersections and uncertainties is one of the best decisions we could ever make.
And as hard as it is, these five things keep rising above the confusion and telling me they are true. Obedience is:
1. costly. It requires us to sacrifice something. To give up something of value for something of significance. Whether that is in our time, resources, energy, effort, finances or simply our expectations. Obedience will require us to leave something behind that is hard.
2. immediate. If you’re anything like me I’m prone to putting things off. Perhaps I need to think it over, set my course, prepare myself or the way. That is fine for many obstacles and challenges we face in life, in fact it’s good to follow that advice on any number of things. But obedience doesn’t fit that mold. When God lays something on your heart, obedience requires that you say yes first. Delayed obedience is very often disobedience. I’m learning that when God says “go” I need to say yes now and figure out the details later.
3. radical. Very often obedience will not line up with reality. It won’t make sense or fit in our comfort zone. Perhaps it requires something we aren’t sure we’re willing to give! Or it might make us stand out in a way we never thought we could. When God calls you to do something bold, be assured He will give you the strength to do it. Don’t be afraid of being different or radical. Be afraid of being exactly the same.
4. intentional. When God places something on my heart my honest gut-response is almost always no. Please God, no? I plead with Him, this will make me look silly…or ridiculous or completely insane! I cannot do this! That is why obedience takes an intentional internal push to get over the hump. It doesn’t make sense! God’s directives very rarely will. (Here). Someday they will.
5. hard fought. Once we make it over the hump and convince ourselves to follow Him, then we have to face the reality of our world. Our people. Our communities, our friends and our vices. We have to actually become who He is leading us to be and that’s hard. The reality is that’s very hard. I wish I could say it wasn’t so hard for me, but it is. I’m tempted to be normal. To do what everyone else does. To have fun! Let loose. Be free. But being free for me is very different than being free for someone else. And what normal is for others doesn’t feel good for me the next day. It’s why obedience requires that we fight for it. We have to struggle in the world in which we live to still be set apart as His. It’s why we must fight.
My grandma always said “It’s a great life if you don’t weaken.” The older I get the more I understand her hard won wisdom. She was bold and brave and fighter until the very end and no matter how hard she was, she left so much behind. A trail of wisdom she fought for, and she earned.
No one ever told us life would be easy. But it will be worth it. Say yes to what God is placing on your heart. You may look forward with trepidation and uncertainty, but I am convinced you will look back and see faithfulness. He is that good.
Be blessed my friends. I am grateful for you. xoxo
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