When Obedience Hurts

What do you do, when you feel like God is calling you to let go of something that you feel like you cannot live without? Or at the very least, you do not want to live without. Throughout the years, I have chosen to ignore that call more times than I care to try and remember. I chose disobedience. I chose to settle. I chose to doubt God’s goodness.

Looking back, I really think that obedience may have hurt in the moment, but the disobedience stings for long after. There were so many moments that I have thought, “What if I had just trusted God? Where would I be?” Even if I would have felt foolish, at least I would have had peace knowing I listened to the right voice.

So here I am, standing on the other side of obedience. Or perhaps, walking in it would be more appropriate. While He has called me to let go of one thing, He has called me to grasp something else. Not just “in the meantime”, but ALL of the time. He has called me to take hold of Him, and to trust that He is everything I will ever need in life. He is my provider, comforter, joy, love, strength, and peace.

It’s easy to say that God is all of these things to us, until our faith is tested.

It’s easy to say, “God is my provider” when our finances are all good.
It’s easy to say, “He is my comforter” when life is going smoothly.
It’s easy to say, “He is my joy” when we are not burdened with sorrow.
It’s easy to say, “He is my love” when we are basking in His blessings.
It’s easy to say, “He is my strength” when we don’t feel like our world is crashing all around us.
It’s easy to say, “He is my peace” when we are in the calm and not the storm.

I was eight years old when I chose to believe in God. For many years after, I called myself a Christian. But those are not the same thing. The heart of God is not just that we believe in Him, but that we would have a relationship with Him. He wants us to experience His love and all of His goodness, because that is the very reason we were created. We live in a broken world, and more often than not, we view God through the filter of how the world has treated us. Yet that is not who He is.

I’ll be honest, my heart is hurting. There is a part of me that wants so desperately to run back to what God told me to let go of, but I know the ending of that story is not what God desires to give me. He is a good Father, that desires to give good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11). I cannot know that if I don’t open my hands and my heart to receive those gifts. And the thing is: He IS the gift. Everything else is just extra.

My favorite Bible verse growing up was Psalm 37:4.

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”

It does not say He shall give you the desires of your heart, “if you read your Bible daily”, “if you pray before bed each night”, “if you attend church”, or “if you give to the poor”. God is not about checklists. He is about checking our hearts, and desiring that they line up with His heart. I had the wrong view of this verse my entire life. I was performing for God, rather than living in the grace of God. It is no wonder I walked away feeling empty.

It is not without difficulty that He is teaching me that He is all I need. It isn’t fun, but it is freeing. I have lived liked the world, and seen all that is has to offer. If you don’t know, the short answer is: NOTHING. Sin is pleasurable for a season (Hebrews 11:25), but it is so unsatisfying in the end. So I will choose to delight myself in the [presence of the] Lord, and to make the daily choice to not sit in my sadness, wallowing in my loss. There is wisdom to be gained, faith that will grow, ground to be taken, and healing that must take place.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

“‘For I know the  plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope.'” Jeremiah 29:11

 

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