Life-Changing, Radical Obedience
Have you ever had times in your life where the entire paradigm of your view changes?
Its like you can only see certain things or you can only see things in a certain way and your mentality could never have imagined another way?
Something I'm realizing about myself is - the way I make decisions. I calculate all the possibilities my imagination can conjure up and then based on those options I do process of elimination based on common sense and pros and cons.
So in essence, even though I can multi-task considerably well and have the ability and the capacity to be open-minded, I am one track minded in nature by default.
This being said, you can imagine that the Lord's way with me includes changing things up a bit now and again.
So, a few words sum up what I'm about to talk about in this blog:
Praying new prayers
Now, being apart of a Vineyard church, we are of course fans of our founder, John Wimber.
Christy Wimber, one of his relatives pastors a church out in CA and she visits every now and then. While she was here this past month, she said something that really hit me square at home in my heart.
She said, "Now, I KNOW that when God asks me to let go of something that's hard to let go of, He's about to do something new in my life."
Now over the past year, I've been wrestling with God about a few different things that I WANTED to let go of but could NOT, within my own strength. The lesson learned in this was invaluable to me as I learned that I was entirely bound to my own sin patterns and COULD NOT unbind myself by my own strength. Nor could I wrestle God into doing what I wanted Him to do. Ultimately, I'm ugly in my sin, I can't change it AND ... that's that. But God. Those two words become the most precious in my life. But God - so loved us.
So this happened over the new year and when I concluded that I can do NO good thing within myself and I needed God to LET GO at ALL -He released me. And I could.
Kind of like the story of Jacob wrestling God? Yeah. 2011 in a nutshell for me. Except I begged God to let ME let HIM go. Pride my friends will never be beautiful. You can cover it up and you can sugar coat it, but when you ask God to do what it takes, make no mistake about it, He will.
That is what I love about Him.
When I was released from the things I couldn't let go of, things became disorienting for me.
I've often felt like I don't fit well or for very long into places I find myself in - and for the most part I just accepted that this is inevitable for me since I've felt like this since a child.
But God has been doing MUCH in the arena of my identity and putting down roots has been a lot easier for me. Especially as friendships develop.
But after all of this wrestling, my life seemed empty and my purpose left blank. What now, Lord?
When you let go of something, God has got something new on the horizon.
Or at least for me, lots of old things.
Things I've forgotten about for years, actually. Its really awesome because they're little things that only I would know about but He's proving Himself faithful because even though I forgot about them, He never did.
But that's still disorienting because I'm not moving in those callings at this point.
I think the place I find myself in, though small in its beginning, is a very defining one. Its a place of memorial. Kind of like in the Old Testament when God tells Israel to make a memorial so as to remember what He did for them. Here - here in this place is a new chance to die. Again. To myself.
Its really cool actually because what's happening is something I've never done in my life before.
I'm obeying without question. Or at least trying to. I'm finding out that without love, "being good" is just moralism as a means to get what we want.
The standards God sets for us personally and by His word are just rules to follow if we don't know how to really love and trust God.
"If you love Me, you'll obey my commands." -John 14:15
The joy I'm finding in all of this is that as I learn God's love for me, I can't help but love Him the same way - by imitation. All of a sudden, what was a sacrifice for me before becomes an offering - a PLEASURE for me to give. It is a pleasure for me to obey the Lord.
I don't know about you guys, but I've always had a problem with obeying God when I don't understand or when I just plain don't WANT to. It never occurred to me to ASK Him to give me the strength to say yes to Him. The DESIRE to pray this prayer never even crossed my heart. What a SWEET prayer!
I'm all about praying risky prayers. I WANT to give it all! I WANT to see my life fully surrendered to Jesus! I WANT to move in His Spirit and with authority and power for His glory.
I can't do that without giving permission for God to "do whatever it takes."
So a new prayer is asking God to give me the strength to say yes.
Now some may argue that I always have a choice.
But no. My choice is that I have none.
My choice is obedience. Because I love Him. I can't go back - I don't even know how I could!
Its kind of like Frodo and the ring. Yes, he had a choice but... he was chosen. He was a slave to completing his task even if it meant unto death.
I feel the same way about following the Lord.
Its not an option to NOT love God. I can't not. To love is to obey. I can't then, NOT obey.
Now - I don't have the ability to obey in my own strength, this I know. I've tried this very recently and I found that it is impossible. I could "say" I obey and in action look like I am, but God is the great Judge of our hearts and we cannot fool Him even if we succeed in fooling ourselves.
So - to walk in the way I choose, I cannot have anything of myself.
AS I decrease, He is increasing.
When my life is based in this, beautiful and holy and pure, HOW can I go back? Why would I want to be in the dark when my life is becoming increasingly enraptured with light and true life? That would blaspheme the Holy Spirit.
Once one is presented with the truth, you can't go back into oblivion. It becomes a deliberate decision. I can't choose oblivion and unchoose God. Therefore, as a servant, it is the call of my life to obey - to worship God in obedience regardless of feelings.
Now, a few things have happened since I last posted:
My mission trip to Mozambique has been canceled. Airfare is way overpriced. And - I've raised all but about about 300 dollars of the 3000 that I needed. NOW WHAT?! Have I used the word disoriented a lot? That's because this is how its been this last month. Why did I feel God's prompting for this trip? Why was all the money raised so quickly? What is God's plan for that money? I need direction. I need to walk in faith.
So with THIS being stated, a quick story.
2 doors down from the office I work at within a small plaza, there is a music/record store owned by a crippled man. It takes him probably 5-6 minutes to walk to the door from his handicapped parking spot - a walk that would take any of of us 5 seconds. He's not necessarily the nicest man either - gruff. He's not that old -mid 40's at the most.
the last 2 weeks God has been putting it in my heart to pray for his heart to be softened.
THEN it occurred to me that as a person who believes that the power of the Kingdom of God is within me, I should act in faith and ask if he would like prayer to be healed.
Now - I don't have any gifts of healing to my knowledge. But - that would mean that God would have to do His thing - and that is exactly what I felt the Lord had in mind.
But for a week I procrastinated the development of the idea because - what if nothing happened?
The thought didn't go away and I knew that I wasn't being obedient to what Jesus commissioned us to do - He SAID that one of the signs that will follow believers is that they would lay hands on the sick and they would recover.
The other thing is - the store is filled with yucky feeling spirits. Demonic music - demonic things inside.
But on lunch a few days ago, I couldn't do it anymore. I was intensely convinced that regardless of my feelings and "don't do this!" thoughts, I HAD to move. What if God was waiting for me to act in faith and obedience so HE could move? What if in my disobedience, I was hindering God's process of moving things in MY life? I couldn't afford to not obey.
So I went.
I told the man (Phil) that God had me praying for him for the last few weeks and at that point, I had a prophetic word for him as well. He let me pray for him, and you know? nothing happened before my very eyes. And I told him that God had a plan for me to come to him that day for a reason - I didn't know what that was, but maybe he should ask God what its all about, since he said he prayed every morning.
And - I went back to my office with my lunch. And I cried.
I did something huge, my friends. I risked what I felt was everything and moved to advance the Kingdom.
But mostly I acted in deliberate faith, paying the cost of possibly foolishness - in act of love and worship to my Father.
It cost me something I've never paid before, and it was the most freeing, scary - moving thing I've ever done in my life.
I'M GROWING, GUYS!!!!
John Wimber said faith is spelled R-I-S-K.
A friend pointed out that according to John then, risk is my middle name.
I never thought about it that way before.
But one of the visions for my life that I believe God has given me is to live a life of radical faith - complete obedience. God doesn't need the most intelligent, genius person to accomplish big things, guys.
God needs a willing vessel -a regular, every day person who is willing to say, "Yes, Lord."
I'm done dreaming of being that person. Its time I just started living it.
I'm an adult, no body's stopping me, right? What am I waiting for?
Jon Foreman couldn'tve voiced a more profound statement in the form of the question:
So NOW what?!
I'm praying about what God's purpose for this money is.
I'll be writing letters to all the people who gave to either return it or ask them to pray that God would make it clear what His plan is for it.
Pray with me, friends?
Who KNOWS what the Lord has for those who love Him. :)