This morning I read a great thought from Oswald Chambers in regard to obeying Jesus:
He said, “If when God said ‘Go,’ you stayed, because you were so concerned about your people at home, you robbed them of the teaching and preaching of Jesus Christ Himself. When you obeyed and left all consequences to God, the Lord went into your city to teach; as long as you would not obey, you were in the way. Watch where you begin to debate and to put what you call duty in competition with your Lord’s commands. ‘I know He told me to go, but then my duty was here;’ that means you do not believe that Jesus means what He says…
“When we are certain of the way God is going to work, He will never work in that way any more. He works where He sends us to wait… Wait on God and He will work, but don’t wait in spiritual sulks because you cannot see an inch in front of you! To wait is not to sit with folded hands, but to learn to do what we are told.”
This challenge reminded me of the many times I have debated with God’s clear voice of instruction to my heart. He always asks things I do not understand and cannot make sense of. He always presses me into steps of obedience that require trust and faith. I’m a realist—I like to calculate, plan, figure it out. I like to see it on paper, graphed, diagramed, mapped out. I like to make a spread sheet and show all the steps from point A to Z. I like to feel in control and on top of things.
How different is the real life adventure of following Jesus! He tells us to “go” or “do” when it doesn’t look like it makes sense. He calls us to leave our comfort zones and venture out in risk. He calls us to obey in spite of the “projected” outcome. His call never comes with pre-calculations to show how the math all works out.
So my experience is this—I logic with God; I give excuses; I present all my “what-ifs”; and I negotiate with Him. I try to talk Him out of His will. I try to explain why it won’t work. Then I hesitate in fear. I’m so glad that He is patient and long suffering with me—or else I would have been toast a long time ago! In the end, God continues to press me to obey His voice before I know the outcomes. It’s usually after I have exhausted all my excuses that I finally choose to obey and do what He instructs. Those moments are the most fearful of my life—but every time, without fail, they are the most rewarded moments as well!
God’s call is always backed up by His promise, His power, and His provision! He never fails, and He has always proven Himself to be bigger than the risk to which He was calling me.
Perhaps the greatest warning and potential reality in Chambers’ quote is the point about being “in the way.” He’s not only referencing being in God’s way, or being in the way of God’s will for my own life—he’s referencing the idea that I can literally “be standing in the way” of God’s will and unfolding blessing in the lives of others! How convicting!
You see, your obedience to Jesus isn’t only about you—it is about those who will be ultimately blessed by your obedience. Perhaps it is your family. Perhaps your marriage and your children stand to experience great benefit from your obedience. Perhaps the very arguments you are using against God are, themselves, to roadblocks to His blessing in the lives of those you love the most. Perhaps it is His blessing in the lives of people you have never met—and never will meet unless you obey. Does it scare you to think you could hinder the flow of God’s grace to others?
When God called me to Connecticut, now five years ago, I spent more than six months arguing, resisting, and trying to logic my way out of God’s clear call. Looking back, it’s a terrifying thought to think of the “what if’s” of not obeying. It’s not really about God’s blessings in my own life—though they are many. I marvel and stand in awe of His blessings in lives of those I love—my wife, my children, my grandchildren, our extended family, and a host of new Christian friends at Emmanuel.
To think how simple obedience unfolded into such an avalanche of joyful consequences in so many directions, all by God’s grace—especially when it all began with such painful deliberation and sorrow—is an astounding consideration. God’s ways truly are marvelous—they cause me to simply MARVEL!
So I share this challenge with you today, as well as with myself—let us learn to obey before we reason and excuse and logic with God. Let us learn to do what He says simply because it is Him saying it. In so doing, we will surely discover how personal, loving, and dependable our loving Saviour is!
Before you argue with God, stop and think— “who’s blessings might I be preventing right now?” Perhaps that single consideration will compel you to trust and obey! I promise—you will not regret following Jesus!