When Obedience Is Untidy
It’s September and I find myself in Smalltown, Idaho. On the one hand, I’m thrilled. We’re with our daughter and SIL while awaiting the birth of our very first grand baby. On the other, I feel a bit whiplashed and am wondering how we got here. Still on the other hand (as Tevye would say), I am thankful.
Just one year ago, we said our difficult goodbyes to family and friends and began our trek over the pond back to the Land-We-Love. A door had opened. Visas had been issued. Many prayers had been prayed. All systems were go.
Let me back up a minute to reiterate something. When I say that “many prayers were prayed”, I’m not being evangelistic. I mean MANY PRAYERS WERE PRAYED…for years. We had asked for a miracle and our Red Sea had parted! This was it! We were going in! And we did.
At first it seemed so surreal. That which we had longed for had come to pass. As we walked the dusty streets and renewed our friendships, we breathed awe-filled thanks. God had done it. Our faith had been met with His faithfulness.
We woke up every morning grateful for where we were. We thanked God for what was ahead, for His love for these dear people and for including us in His work.
Opportunities throughout the country sprung up. We were gaining traction at a miraculous rate. Yes, God was working.
Then trouble struck. We were stopped in our tracks. Literally.
Four months in and then this…
I shook my head in disbelief as we began navigating the weeks ahead. Every morning I would tell myself, “The Lord has entrusted this situation to us; may we be a faithful representative of Him on this day.”
Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I imagined this as one of those great future stories of God’s intervening power that we would tell our grandchildren. We kept hanging on and trusting.
Surely this would resolve neatly. We’d come so far. He wouldn’t lead us this far just to…
To what, Pam? Even as I type this now it causes me to pause. He wouldn’t lead us this far just to….what?
FAIL. There, I said it.
Wow, that was hard.
Could God…would God lead us from miracle to miracle just to see it all come to nothing?
That’s real talk right there. It’s raw and it’s to the heart of the issue.
What happens when obedience is untidy?
When nothing wraps up neatly like an episode of “Madam Secretary”? There are still gaps, loose threads, questions…
Though my American mentality may not comprehend it, God is quite comfortable with untidy, unresolved, unHallmark-movie endings. He doesn’t ask that we approve or even understand His plan, but to simply walk in trusting obedience.
BUT WHAT ABOUT OUR NEWSLETTER?!?!
These are the hard questions. I say that wryly, but somewhere it still rings true. What do we tell people? Who will wave their hanky at this story?
Peter may have wondered this on a much deeper level as Jesus was lowered from the cross. Paul may have felt that way as he sat in a jail cell writing letters or the widows mourning Tabitha whose life had been only to do good.
Obedience does not equal knowing.
Obedience does not require full understanding.
Obedience is simply following Jesus step by step, trusting.
There is nothing tidy about how our time in our beloved desert home ended. It’s still quite messy. We still have questions, but we have placed them at the feet of Jesus in trust.
He entrusted us for a season. We tried with our whole hearts to listen and follow. We have to be okay with that even when we’d like to derive the meaning of it all NOW.
Psalm 46 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way…”
I love that part of the chapter, however, notice as the passage progresses…
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
I won’t fear _____________ (failure, unmet expectations, disappointment, relocation, expulsion).
I will choose to walk in trust-filled obedience understanding maybe some of it or none of it, but probably not all of it will be revealed.
I’m finding great joy in releasing the need to know to Him. It relieves me of any foolish notion that I had the right to assume a particular outcome.
A coin does not tell the spender how or where it is to be spent.
I will then be still in my heart, my mind and my obedience knowing that He loves me and our dear desert friends. He will be exalted among the nations.