So I wasn’t obedient. Or faithful. That’s what I found after listening to some excellent teaching from a leadership conference recently. I thought that I had been obedient..at the very least I could firmly say that I did what God asked me to do. But as I soon realized,
that’s not what obedience and faithfulness really is.
Banning Liebscher did one session at Bethel Church’s Inspire Conference and he bolted out of the gate confronting a deep heart issue that I wasn’t even aware of…
Were you faithful and obedient to your assignment? Did you do what God asked you to do?
He said that success in the Kingdom of God is defined by our obedience and faithfulness. Sounds simple enough and on paper I had done what God had asked of me.
He asked me to put church ministry aside. He didn’t give me a lot of the why’s and how’s. He was patient with me and let me drag my feet for months but when it was time – it was time.
Part of me was relieved to get out from under the different types of pressure involved in leading a ministry and being part of church staff. But the larger part of me did not want to get off that train. There had been many great adventures, wonderful people and places discovered on that train. I thought that this train was taking me on the ride of a lifetime that would end in the fulfillment of what God had called me to do. And then He told me it was time to get off. The train came to a screeching stop…
I hid behind obedience. I didn’t know why God wanted me to step down.. it didn’t seem to make sense. So I looked for the obvious; where was I weak, where had I failed? Where could I improve? Obviously, I needed to focus on my family, my kids, my marriage, my health. So I held that like a banner – doing the right thing for my family.
But in my heart, I felt like a failure. I must have failed or God wouldn’t have taken me out. I must have done something wrong to be kicked off the train…
And then with my protective banner of “Doing the right thing for my family”, I began to look around and see all the people that still got to be on the train and even new people that got invited to hop aboard! I was jealous. Just like a child watching everyone else play while they sat at the window looking out…
But I was being obedient – so at least I had that.
“Comparing your life against the assignment on someone else’s life will rob you of your own destiny – your own assignment.” ::Banning Liebscher
Comparison is just awful. It’s the worst. We see everyone’s BEST moments, highlights on social media and without even realizing it our mind reflects on our own life. We compare their life picture with the reality of our own. But I had taken this further — I was comparing assignments, callings, favor from God.
With comparison, someone always loses and in my case, it was me. By falling for this trap I came out the loser. Something had to be wrong with me. So instead of enjoying a down season of rest and reconnecting with my family, I became depressed and discouraged. I even accused God of using me and tossing me aside. Yes. I really felt that way and I told Him so. (hashtag #notproud)
My obedience became a scapegoat for responsibility that I laid all my hurts, fears and shame upon.
I was obedient. I did what God asked. Poor me. (did I mention self-pity?) I could blame everything that I thought was wrong on my obedience.
Over time these issues got blurry and faded in intensity as I actually began to rest and be in my life. I began reconnecting in the different relationships I have with my kids and my husband. These relationships aren’t perfect but they are real and there is true connection. I absolutely love getting to spend time with these people that I have the privilege of calling my children and discovering the husband that I had always had, but hadn’t really known. And, I began to listen to teachers on the word of God again, teachers on His nature…
Confusion, drivenness, hurt and shame faded and new clarity came, a lightness in my heart and a joy grounded in knowing that I had done the right thing. Is that irony?
As Banning spoke on obedience and faithfulness my heart reflected on this past year and the struggle I had encountered so intensely in the first few months..and I realized that I hadn’t been obedient. Or faithful.
God is after our hearts. He wants relationship with us above anything else. I just gave Him action. “You want me to do this – Done.” That’s not a heart yielded to the purposes of God. No wonder my year had been such a struggle – I stripped myself of the benefits and grace that come with obedience. The benefits of peace, comfort and strength – make no mistake we need these to walk out our faith and obedience.
I doubted His goodness and intentions toward me and believed the easier lies. Grief and sorrow became callouses that kept me from hearing the tender affection of God’s heart for me and my family. Guilt and self accusation stole any sense of purpose, destiny or assignment that I felt called to.
The beauty…the wonder of our good and gracious God is that He keeps no record of wrong. We can course correct when we come to Him in the right heart. And so I did. And I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. I can take responsibility for my obedience and the choices that I made. And I anchor myself in the truth that He has for me; the assignment that He has for me and the purpose He has for my future.
Obedience gets a bad rap…we have a hard time talking about it because we think it means, “Do what your told.” Perform, no matter what. The dictionary defines it: the act or an instance of obeying; dutiful or submissive behavior. See, that’s what I want from my dog, not from anyone I’m in a relationship with. No, for me, what I’m learning is that my obedience means that I have a respect and honor toward the authority and wisdom of God. I’m willing to trust Him more than I trust myself and so I yield… to His better plan, His love for me.
There’s this cool verse in 1 Corinthians that I love reading in The Message translation:
And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and Love and Obey and Believe right there.
1 Corinthians 7:17
I was obedient and faithful. I did what He asked me to do. He’s given me a beautiful assignment and there’s no place I’d rather be than where I am right now.
What are you called to? What assignment has He given you? Is in the workplace? At the gym? At home? Overseas? He always has an adventure of some kind for us…just trust Him and say yes!