When Obedience Disappoints

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Because his ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9) and we won’t always understand Him.

A few months ago I made a move that I believed God was leading me to make and it failed…

Terribly.

I had my hopes built up, thought this instruction would lead me to an end result I was praying about for a while now. I prayed, fasted and obeyed but the move crashed.. And so did all of my hopes and dreams.

The bible says hope deferred makes the heart sick. My heart was broken. I was devastated. I was hurt and confused and I just wanted to walk away from everything church and Christianity. I was so done.

I figured if I walk away, stop hoping and give it all up, that that would stop the pain. I wouldn’t have to hope anymore and I wouldn’t keep suffering through disappointment every time my hope was deferred.

So I suffocated all of it.

I stopped attending church for a few weeks, and pretty much neglected my spiritual disciplines. I told myself I was being way too spiritual and spooky and that maybe I was expecting too much and trying to be too “holy.” I told myself Jesus already sacrificed his life and so God didn’t need all of that from me. I even had myself convinced that God didn’t really care what I did so I was free to “live” my life because my choices and its outcomes were solely up to me.

And for a while it worked. For a while I was content to think that way and live that way. See, this was good because then I didn’t need to believe anymore in what I couldn’t see. Instead I had predictable outcomes and that felt safer for me. I didn’t have to keep yielding my will and I didn’t want to be broken anymore. I wanted to just “be.”

I reverted back to some old patterns, picked up some old habits and found ways to justify them. I began carving out a path for myself and how I would “dress” myself up to get there. And it felt good. It felt easy and safe and the voices in my head finally stopped. Life was once again calm. After all, life is much easier to live when you believe not much is required of you.

I didn’t realize the danger in that is spiritual death.

So I was on this path for a while but then a few lines from my Oswald Chambers’ devotional busted my little delusional bubble. (Thankfully I was still reading them.) It said:
“Your reliance on God is gone. You are now relying on worldly opinion. Something has been coming between you and God, change it or remove it at once.”

Devil thought he had me….

I was on the train when I read it and I had to close the book and catch my breath. The Spirit had spoken so forcefully through those words. I remember feeling shaken, so shaken I rushed to my office and just sat there for a while.
Over the next few days, the Spirit began to show me the errors in my thinking.

In my disappointment, I questioned the character of God and so in essence, I was handing Him his promises back. I was saying to him, “I heard what you said but this is too much. I can’t even see how you’re going to do all this and sometimes I feel like you’re jerking me around. So thanks, but no thanks I’ll figure my life out.”

How disrespectful?!

It wasn’t without consequence. But thank God for his patience with us! Not only did I set up false expectations in my mind but I was blaming God for them. My pastor always says disappointment is not based on what you find but what you expected to find. And no expectations no disappointment, right?

Right.

But sometimes even disappointment serves its purpose. Am I saying God set me up to be disappointed? No. But it taught me to manage my expectations.

Just because something didn’t go the way you envisioned doesn’t mean God didn’t lead you there. We tend to think in terms of positive or negative outcomes to determine the motives of God but, fact is, God’s instructions won’t necessarily lead us to any “expected” end. I’m learning that his instructions are more for my spiritual maturity and development and HIS purpose than for my personal fulfillment. And so my only job is to yield. At no point did he say, “do this and this is what will happen.” I assumed that. He simply said, “make this move” and I did.

Now three months later and I finally understand his purpose. During this process of God revealing Himself to me, I had been praying “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection”. Well, that’s just what he did. What I didn’t realize was, something (in me) had to die first. (Watch what you pray for… although, clearly, my rebellious will needed to die, if I was ready to run back to the world because I didn’t get what I wanted.) Still, I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world.

Following that devastation, I witnessed the power of God like never before and finally, finally after eight months of praying, I received the gift of tongues!!

But I had to repent. I really had to resubmit myself and repent. Now I’m refreshed and renewed and feel so alive in his love in a way I never knew him before.

And so when God gives us an instruction what we are to consider is: what did our obedience to that instruction produce in us? We won’t always know the answer to that right away. As a matter of fact we’ll never know until we obey. Sometimes the answer is brokenness, but remember, He only breaks us to bless us and he only breaks our will, not our spirit.

And when I tell you that God will make up for that disappointment and give you double honor for your shame, believe me he will. He tests us and stretches us but He always heals and glorifies us in the end if we stay diligent. I’ve seen so many rewards and have had so many doors open in the last month alone, it’s amazing. I can’t wait to blog about them all.

Now I feel him tugging at my spirit once more, saying “go back, go back and try it again. Believe again. Hope again.” And I’m watching something so beautiful unfold, that I know that I am still walking in the power of that restoration.

So, my loves, whatever God is calling you to do, just do it. Don’t analyze it, don’t debate it. Just say, “Lord, here I am. I submit and align myself with your will. Have your way.”

Or, perhaps like me, you obeyed God but the outcome seemingly didn’t work in your favor and now you are broken or confused. Know that pulling away is never the answer. Press in like never before and ask him to clear the fog of your disappointment and reveal his truth to you. Know that God causes all things to work together for our good (Rom 8:28). You’ll see the situation anew, through his eyes, and you’ll be glad you obeyed and endured.

Selah.

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