The Joy of Obeying When It Hurts

Over 3 days I experienced 3 states of mind over the same issue.

Day 1: Sadness

I was at a point where I knew my story had a happy ending. I was not at my happy ending, I was at that bit in between where too much had happened for me to go back and I couldn't see the way forward. I wondered if I should be in some way responsible for the unravelling of this step. Make something happen. But then I didn't know what to do or where to go. So I sat, waiting, knowing that the sadness will pass over time, as will the fear and one day I might totally forget that for a period of time I came home every night, came straight to bed and curled up in a ball, till I woke the next day to continue along the same pattern.

I decided that I had cried all the tears I would cry. That lasted 5 minutes into my conversation with God in which I found myself sobbing asking for His clarity and His peace. I kept saying to myself it wasn't supposed to happen this way, wishing it turned out differently. As I wished, I acknowledged my sin of questioning God’s plan. My sin of wishing I could have something God had simply said was not for me. I used the word wishing, but God uses the word coveting.

Then I asked myself the question I had been dancing around. Do I trust God? The thing is I say I do and I thought I did, but if I really trusted God whatsoever He says should give me peace. And I couldn’t find that peace. Instead there was a lot of fear about what the future could possibly hold. What if I am making the wrong choice? My own understanding tells me it should be right, but everything God is showing me to is clearly saying this isn’t right.

I have quoted “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3: 5) countless times. If I truly believe it, why can’t I just step back and let go. Why isn’t this easier? Why does this hurt? Why does it drain me? Why do I spend half my days accepting it and the other half hoping? What is the quick way to make this okay?

Day 2: Peace

The reason I asked God what His plan was before going ahead was because I didn’t and still don’t trust myself to make the right decision. So though in my own wisdom I thought I had a great plan, God disagrees and I should be thankful that He was merciful enough to tell me that. With this realisation came the peace of knowing that I am still in God’s plan for my life.

The very fact that I went to God in the first place shows that I knew there was a chance I could be wrong about the plan I had laid out for myself, so I am going to stop focusing on the fact that I didn’t get an A-okay for my plan and start being thankful that I was saved from my own limited wisdom and start trying to find out what God’s plan for my life is.

Day 3: Grace and Joy

This was the day to put my faith into action and officially discard my original plans. And with it came the joy of obedience.

By the joy of obedience, I don’t mean the joy you get down the line when you can look back and see why God ordered your steps. I am not talking about something theoretical. I am talking about a practical realistic instant experience. I am talking about feelings I experienced immediately after obedience.

I have always understood that when you obey God when it is difficult, down the line you will find peace and joy in seeing He is right. What I didn’t realise was the instantaneous joy? God gave me the grace to obey Him, though His instructions went against my own personal desires. Firstly came the sadness of loss, then it was followed by this peace of mind and wrapped in this joy.

I find that instead of mourning my loss I am excited about the future and what God has in store for me? I can’t wait to see where He’s taking me. Because like I said last time it can only get better and this time I’m not just saying it.

If Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac, the only son he had left in his life. A son he had waited 25 years for. Imagine the cheek of me crying over something that I never even had. If I trust God, not only will I obey Him, but I will obey Him joyfully. I guess it’s back to the Sunday school class of trust and obey. I thank God for taking me through these steps, so I could truly learn this old Sunday school lesson.

I am still not yet at my happy ending. I am still at that bit where too much has happened for me to go back, but I have faith that God will show me the way forward. And it’s okay because not only is my ending joyful, but so is the journey.

I am so overcome by His love. My hope of glory is ever expanding at His love. The fact he orders my steps so carefully makes me feel like He is ordering them straight to Him and that is the best feeling in the world.

So have a listen to this as a reminder of that awesome awesome love.

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