We are now in the middle of week 6 of our #7:14 prayer initiative. This week, our prayer focus is on obedience. Obedience is a concept that most of our world wholeheartedly rejects. Somehow we have gotten to the place where the idea of someone telling you what to do has moved from being “good advice worth listening to,” to a grave injustice. How did we get here?
To thine own self be true (Shakespeare) has served as a motto that has been both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing when it allows us to get to a place of authenticity, when we tap into who we really are in Christ. It is a beautiful thing when we are awakened to see that God made us in a particular way and has called us to a particular mission.
On the other hand, it is a curse when we use this as a self-centered perspective to be our only compass to navigate the world. Instead of simply choosing to be obedient and love others, we rely on our feelings and emotions to dictate the terms for how we engage others. We get lost in a whirlwind of our own ego, and we rarely grow because our only teacher is ourselves. We get lost in this self-centered vortex where all of our conversations are laced with lines like: I think that… My feeling about the subject is…The impression I had was ….
We all need to take a refresher course on what it means to be obedient to God’s leadership over our lives. Obedience is a matter of character, pure and simple. We are obedient when our character has been forged by God’s gracious hand to see that his ways are better than our ways. We need to remember WHO it is we are putting our trust in: What is the nature of God’s character? Has he proven himself to be trustworthy? Is he good? When those simple questions are affirmed in our hearts, it increases our ability to be obedient to his will and his way.
A Story of Calling
One of the most essential things we learn on our discipleship journey is cultivating an ability to say “Yes” to God’s will for our lives. I remember when I received the call into my first ministry. I had just graduated from Texas A&M and I was considering my options for the future: seminary, youth ministry, things like that. Over this last summer at Texas A&M, I got connected with a college ministry that was doing some pretty amazing things. Relationships formed quickly there and I was asked to join their staff to be a college pastor. “Staff” usually means salary + benefits in most church contexts, but here it was a call to raise financial support from outside donors.
When I was asked to come on staff, I remember distinctly my heart singing “Yes,” while all the time my flesh was crying out even louder, “NOOOOOOOO.” My mind was flooded with a whole host of excuses for why this didn’t make any sense. Outside of having to raise support, I was sitting with a pretty substantial amount of credit card debt and this beautiful girl named Rebecca came into my life – I would surely run her off if she knew I was going to take a risk like this.
So I prayed, and prayed and prayed some more. One Sunday I sat in my room for 6 hours listening to Jason Upton (awesome worship leader) and wept before the Lord. Through this time, God kept telling me that this was the plan he had for me if I would submit and be obedient. He reminded me how he had led me to this point in my journey and reaffirmed that he would be with me every step of the way forward. I came to a place where I said, “Yes” to him and submitted to his will.
In the end, I served four years in that ministry and it was the best thing that could have happened to me. The process of being obedient and raising support was a refining furnace that solidified my calling and character. For four years, I lived on the kingly sum of roughly $11,000 a year – BALLER STATUS. Yet, I wouldn’t change this experience for the world, as it caused the fruit of the Spirit to flourish in my character. I learned to be patient, resilient and ever hopeful through this process. I got to see the world via missions trips and married the love of my life, Rebecca and even got out of debt!
I am reminded of our text that we are focusing on for obedience this week, it comes from Psalm 25: 4-5, 8-10. I personally appreciate how the NRSV renders this as it states,
“Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long…. Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.”
God is the subject of the author’s prayer here. He doesn’t say “Bless my decisions, God” but rather teach me your truth, teach me your way. We need a fresh reminder that God’s heart and character are good. We need to be reminded or learn that his will is the best thing for our lives. Through the posture of submission, we can finally learn the blessings of obedience.
May God grant you the courage to say “Yes” to him in your life as well.
God has called his people to pray! Our families, communities, and world are in need of healing and God makes a conditional promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14 that we want to live out. God is calling us as his people to humble ourselves, pray, seek his face and turn from our wicked ways. Please join us by:
- Praying daily at 7:14 a.m. & 7:14 p.m.
- Fasting one time per week
- Quieting your heart 10 minutes before service to pray
- Joining us for corporate prayer at the church, Saturday 7:14 p.m. & Sunday 7:14 a.m.