Monday, October 28, 2013

3 Things I Didn't See Coming: Blessings of Obedience

We’ve all felt “the nudge.” The gentle nudge God uses to let us know He has Kingdom work for us. Maybe we’ve acknowledged it but handed God a rain check saying, “When circumstances settle down, I’ll get to it.” Sometimes we feel the nudge but dismiss it as a great idea… for someday. It’s possible that we’ve felt the nudge and thought, “There’s no way the Lord wants me to do that! I couldn’t possibly pull it off!” Yeah, Moses felt that way, too.

No matter how we’ve handled God’s nudges in the past, consider this a challenge to take them seriously from now on. How? We can write them down. Pray over them, and ask the Lord for confirmation. If truly from Him, He’ll confirm it through a stirring in our hearts, a friend that makes a similar suggestion, insight from His Word, or repeated messages heard from sermons, podcasts, blogs, and other unexpected sources. Most of all, let's get to work and act on what the Lord is prompting us to do. We won't be sorry!

The short version of the story about when the Lord nudged me to write Finding Joy in the Journey: Savoring the Fruit of the Spirit, goes like this:   
·         My pastor suggested what I thought was a crazy idea and I said, “no way!”
·         I sensed the Lord had more to say on the matter (the “nudge”) and took it to prayer.
·         I took a few baby steps.
·         God’s people confirmed the project.
·         I dove in and went all the way.

When we move in obedience, blessings follow. That’s not what drives us to move, but I submit that it’s impossible to lean on God and His strength through a project and not receive blessings. I’ll share three blessings of obedience in my "nudge" to write that I simply did not see coming:

1)      Some in my circles disregard the project. And yes, that’s a blessing.

A few of my closest friends (whom I’d hoped would be wildly supportive) declined invitations to read the book, or hear me speak, or get involved on my Facebook page, or read this blog. One or two have quietly pulled away from the fellowship we once shared. After a period of hurt feelings and imagining every reason my friends might provide, God drew me to surrender. 

While I didn’t see it coming, this, too, was part of God’s confirmation. Looking to Scripture, Jesus’ friends and close acquaintances didn’t want to learn from Him, either (see Matthew 13:54-58). If the Lord, Himself, experienced rejection in His hometown, why should I be surprised when I face something similar? 

I believe the Lord is strengthening my muscles – providing tougher skin, greater endurance, and stronger perseverance in me. He is making me stronger so that I can face future, more difficult situations. That’s not exactly something I’m excited about, but I’ll walk in confidence knowing He’s prepared me well. 

2)      Many others warmly embrace my work.

Unexpected encouragement from my church family inspired me to press on in the early stages, without knowing the fuel they provided. As I’ve delivered the message to women’s conferences around the country, I’ve heard comments about the book like, “This is one of the best studies I’ve ever read. ” I don’t share that to toot my own horn, but to demonstrate the ways that the Lord confirms His calling. I never dreamed I’d hear such words. I didn’t see it coming.  To realize the Lord is using the work He’s done through me is a blessing that is extraordinary and extremely humbling.

3)      The book has inspired at least one eight-year-old girl to get into God’s Word.

Madison is a lovely young lady whose mom works alongside me in our church office two mornings a week. I consider them both dear friends. This fall, she asked her mom if they could read Finding Joy together.

There is a chapter where I share my morning quiet time routine. If my feet hit the floor before I open God’s Word, it’s likely I’ll miss my quiet time that day. The Lord blesses us in our obedience and when my sweet husband noticed my routine, He started delivering coffee to my bedside.

Here’s how the story went in Madison’s house after reading that chapter:

Maddy:         That hits me, Mom.
Mom:            How so?
Maddy:         Well, you tell me every morning to read some of my Bible, but I should want to do that on my own. So when I get up in the morning I want to read my Bible and you don’t have to tell me.
Mom:            Would you like me to bring you hot tea?
Maddy:         Yes, please! 

It’s precious. In my wildest imagination, I never dreamed that words I penned could help deepen a young lady’s desire for time with the Lord. I didn’t see that coming. 

When we do what God asks, He will use our work in ways that only He can orchestrate. Our role is to do what He calls us to do, and the rest is up to Him. Let's step out in faith and DO what God has called us to do. He has a plan for all of us. Through you and me, He will touch lives, inspire others, and minister to lost souls.  Let's walk in obedience, step out with purpose, confidence, and determination, and then enjoy the blessings that come.

Be doers of the word and not hearers only
James 1:22 (HCSB)

Your turn:

What do you feel the Lord prompting you to do?

Share a time when the Lord used your obedience in unexpected ways.

I’d love to hear your story. Please share your comments!
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Find strength today, by the Word, 

Psalm 119:28

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