I thought I had found the dream guy at 20. He was smart, witty, liked the same music I did and we often had long conversations deep into the night. There was only one thing we didn’t have in common – God. And that caused a year-long tension in our vague relationship.
As he put it one day, “So, we’re sort of dating, but we can’t hold hands in public?” I remember being speechless when I heard that and knew right away that I couldn’t continue like this anymore.
God had been prompting me to let go of the relationship, but I was reluctant. “He’s perfect! What if I can’t find another guy like him? What if no one else finds me attractive? Why would God ask me to give up something so good?” – these were some of the questions I had. Fear of the unknown, of heartbreak and of losing out were preventing me from taking that step of obedience. When the relationship finally ended, the only thing left for me to do was to trust that God had a better plan than I did for my life.
What is God calling you to obey Him in? It could be abandoning the double life you’ve been leading in order to fit in. It could be a questionable habit that He wants you to quit. It could be to walk a radically different path from your peers. The truth is, God is not a dictator who demands our blind obedience. He calls us to obey Him because we are meant to be like Him – holy in thought and speech and action.
THE COST OF OBEDIENCE
But there seems to be an inverse relationship between comfort and change. The more comfortable we are, the more resistant we are to change. We naturally take comfort in certainty. Wading into the unknown, on the other hand, requires immense courage. When God told Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses had immediate doubts. He basically told God, “I am not important enough; they won’t listen to me! I am not a good speaker… Please send someone else” (Exodus 3:11-4:13). I wonder if Moses was reluctant to leave the familiarity of his life or feeling insecure and fearful of what the Israelites might think of him. It took some time for God to remind him of His sovereignty and power before Moses eventually obeyed.
I also wonder how many of us choose not to obey because we fear the sacrifices and potential pain. I know that’s how I feel at times. I once hesitated to go on a mission trip even though I felt a burden in my heart to go. I was fearful of being in a foreign land with people I barely knew. I could hardly afford the air-ticket too and these seemed to be enough reason to doubt His call.
GOD IS NOT A DICTATOR WHO DEMANDS OUR BLIND OBEDIENCE
Like Moses, perhaps you know that your obedience might invite opposition. Reaching out to the outcast in your class might cause you to be excluded too; choosing to leave a gossip session might provoke your friends to gossip about you; an act of faith might prompt unkind teasing.
But even Jesus was not spared. No matter who He tried to reach out to, whether the poor and downtrodden, the rich and privileged, or those perceived to be immoral and corrupt, he was plagued with opposition. Even the act of healing someone on the “wrong” day was met with criticism (Mark 3:1-6; Luke 13:10-17)! Obeying God is never easy – it requires us to be courageous, to persevere, and to trust that His plan is perfect.
THE POWER OF ‘YES’
When Moses finally said ‘yes’ to God, he began a journey that included carrying out nature-defying acts and witnessing miracles testifying to God’s great power. More incredibly, his relationship with God was such that God frequently spoke to Moses as a friend. The best thing is that his story of obedience isn’t unique! When Queen Esther was challenged by Mordecai to approach the King and appeal for the lives of the Jews, she was facing possible death. Not only did she survive and save an entire nation, she got to experience for herself the sovereignty of a King above all Kings.
When Jesus called Peter to step out of the boat and walk on water, He was inviting Peter into a deeper level of trust and faith in Him. Peter’s reward was not so much getting to walk on water, but immediately and powerfully experiencing God’s faithfulness, goodness, and reliability.
When God placed that burden on my heart to go on a mission trip, He did not let me down either. While deciding whether or not to go, I mustered up the courage to believe that if God has called me, He would have a plan to get me there. God did not fail. I told my non-believing superior about my desire to go and he not only extended my internship period but also blessed me with extra money needed for the trip! This small act of obedience led me to experience God’s providence in an unexpected way.
THE REWARD OF OBEDIENCE IS NOT RICHES NOR COMFORT... IT IS A LIFE OF ADVENTURE WITH THE MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH
Trust requires small steps of faith. Despite their fears, Moses, Esther, and Peter chose to place their trust in a God whom they found to be absolutely trustworthy, and I did the same.
The reward of obedience is not riches nor comfort. It’s not a guarantee to a life free from pain, sickness, and suffering. Neither is it a ticket to fame and glory. The reward is in living the life that God created us for. The pleasure is in discovering how His plans and purposes for us are perfect. The prize is a life of adventure with the Maker of heaven and earth.
Dare to say ‘Yes’ to God, dare to answer His call, and dare to live an outstanding life. In Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,’ is followed by the promise “for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” This is His promise to us as well. Don’t let fear hinder you from experiencing what He can do in your life.