At least it seemed daring to me, since I’d lived all my life within the lines of a precisely drawn template.
That moment was also one of the few times in my life when I’ve heard God speak to me directly in a voice. I’m sure He speaks to me that way fairly often, but my head is probably too filled with self-talk to hear Him. I typically hear God when I’m reading the Bible, but this time He said something like, “I’d like you to do something that might sound a little crazy, but just trust Me, okay?”
I swallowed hard, then tried to ignore the voice for the next few weeks, but it kept coming back. Just a few nagging words I couldn’t get out of my head.
But I was afraid at first.
Because the “it” was impractical.
“It” would require, time, energy, and resources I didn’t have.
“It” would involve risk and sacrifice.
“It” had the potential to totally complicate my life. Even derail my plans for my future and career.
And I’d never be able to fully explain “it” to my friends and those who knew me, except for immediate family, accountability partners, and counselors. And then maybe they’d get annoyed with me or possibly mad. Which, of course, they did.
Because my life did get complicated. And when things get complicated, people get hurt.
I was okay with the risk of getting hurt. But I didn’t know my “yes” could mean others might get hurt, too.
And I did get hurt. In ways I never expected or even imagined.
But I wasn’t prepared for the hurt that came to other people as a result of my choice. The fact that people were hurt doesn’t mean I made a bad choice, I simply felt torn by their pain. But think about it–When Abram left Ur and headed to the Promised Land out of obedience to God, Abram left behind loved ones, family, and severed relationships. His “yes” to God meant pain in not only his life but those who loved him.
The same is true of Jesus. His obedience to Gos meant leaving the disciples on earth and returning to heaven to fulfill the Father’s plan. Yes, God sent the Holy Spirit as the Comforter, but Jesus’ physical absence must have been heart-wrenching to those who loved Him, just as physical death and separation from our loved ones grieves us.
Obedience to God’s calling often brings pain and misunderstanding.
It can be painful to “bear the burdens” of the suffering. Over the course of more than two decades, I’d absorbed more pain than my tender spirit was willing to acknowledge–not because God gave me more than I could bear but because after twenty-plus years of caring for beloved parents, students, friends, and their children with cancer, cerebral palsy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease, stroke, and more, I didn’t realize how emotionally and physically weary I’d become. It’s not that I wouldn’t admit it, I’d forgotten how to recognize and care for my own needs. Besides, I was too busy exercising my carefully disguised need for control.
Why does God ask us to do things that are hard?
- Because He tailors assignments for our specific strengths, as well as our specific weaknesses. God created me to be a caregiver (good), but I can also be a control freak (bad). He challenges us to develop our faith, obedience, and trust in Him to stretch us, grow us, and show us our sin and arrogance. (finger pointed at self)
- Because challenges exhaust our resources and require us to lean on Him. The harder obedience becomes, the more we have to trust God to provide what we need. My journey took me on a a long ride on the rollercoaster of fear, which drove me to trust more deeply in a loving God.
- Because our obedience (or lack) teaches us things about ourselves and our relationship God that we can’t learn any other way. It’s one thing to say we love God, but it’s quite another to love and trust Him enough to put our lives, jobs, reputations, families, futures, finances, or anything else on the line just because He asks us to. Especially when we’re asked to sacrifice the things we hold dear.
- Because our obedience to God is the primary way He changes us and makes us more like Jesus. This is our foundational source of joy: looking and acting like Jesus to the glory of God for the life of the world. IF we are willing.
So how did that “daring thing” turn out?
Beautifully. Because we can trust God to make good on His promises.
What about you? Has God ever asked you to do something extravagant? Daring? Faith-testing? How did you respond? What was the result? What influence did this have on your faith? I’d love to hear from you.