We decided to sell our house last February. Our beautiful “dream home” that I had poured my heart and soul into. I spent four years hanging wallpaper, painting walls, then repainting walls, making it beautiful and documenting it along the way on my blog and social media channels. But after four and a half years of living there, I knew our time in this space was coming to a close.
I had been making trips to the local Goodwill, taking loads of extra home decor I had accumulated for blogging, along with clothing we had outgrown or items we just no longer needed, and as my house emptied out, my heart started to change. As each box of stuff left the house, one day I realized, if we needed to, I could leave the house, too.
We sold our house and didn’t look back, excited and ready for a new season of life. But our plans didn’t go as we had expected. It seemed God was taking me into a new season, one I wasn’t planning on: a season of learning how to obey, and learning what obedience does and does not look like.
I want to obey…
We were hoping to purchase a rental property, and live in one half while renting out the other. This should have been no problem; we had made sure everything was all worked out with the bank. Right after we signed all the paperwork to officially sell our house, we received a phone call telling us that there had been an error, and we were now homeless.
I was mystified and I was shocked! God had changed my heart from wanting a big, beautiful, fancy house. I was willing to live with less, I was being obedient, and now this! I was so confused.
I rarely face the problem of lacking the desire to obey God. My problem, more often, is my innate ability to distort what God means when He calls me to obey.
We camped out on my sister and brother-in-law’s farm in our 90’s R.V trailer and as I prayed and read my Bible over the next couple weeks, I kept coming back to 1 Samuel chapter 13. In this chapter, Saul is told to wait for Samuel in Gilgal but in a moment of fear Saul disobeys God and loses the blessing of being king over Israel.
I knew all about fear. Fear has been my middle name. This chapter kept bringing up a deeply-rooted fear of mine. I did not want to miss out on whatever God had in store for me in life because I was walking in disobedience. In the case of the house situation, I worried that I perhaps already had disobeyed. Or worse, that getting out of this mess completely rested on my personal obedience, AKA, an “it all depends on me” mindset, which is quite the opposite of the point of the gospel and what a Savior is for, but I wasn’t seeing that yet.
I wanted so desperately to obey. I didn’t want any personal disobedience on my part to screw this situation up any more than it already was. I earnestly prayed that God would show me what to do, how to obey, assuring Him that I would do it.
I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to be obedient, just wanting to obedience myself into a solution about this house, or lack thereof. You could ask any of my family members how stressed out I was about possibly being disobedient last summer and missing out on God’s plan and they would probably laugh. They all seemed to grasp what I was missing.
God’s revealed commands
At a certain point, I finally gave up all my striving in the realization that when God calls me to walk in obedience, He doesn’t mean I need to have all the answers or discern secret ways I might be disobeying. He’s not hiding his will from me, in fact, I knew it already. His will was that I would love him and obey his revealed commands.
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3 ESV)
“And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.” (2 John 6 ESV)
Obedience doesn’t mean working harder in order to get myself out of an uncomfortable situation. Obedience doesn’t mean I need to do anything to fix my circumstances or everything is over. How hopeless would that be? The answer to all my striving was Jesus. I can’t obey perfectly – I need a Savior, and the good news is, I have one.
We have a good, sovereign Father
When life is not going as we planned, we need to remember who is sovereign and in control. Trials will come, and with them will be the temptation to find quick solutions. And sometimes, we’re tempted by that lie wrapped up in sneaky packaging, whispering, “If you’d only obeyed, this wouldn’t be happening. God is hiding his will from you. You’re missing it somewhere so you’d better try harder to obey.”
My circumstances weren’t a test to see if I would obey an unknown command from God, and then when I inevitably didn’t know, he would punish me. God doesn’t place situations in front of us as tricks to see if we will do the wrong thing so that he can rip everything out from under us. That is not what a good Father does, and we know that God is a good Father.
In Jeremiah 29:12-13, the Lord tells his people,
“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord.” (ESV)
When God commands us to obey him, he is clear about his will for us. He means for us to fix our eyes on him, looking to Jesus. We do this by listening to what he says, by reading his word. We do it by seeking him with all our hearts and minds, trusting him, submitting to him, and surrendering our hopes and plans to him in thanksgiving and prayer, no matter whether our trials seem big or small. And then we rest as he faithfully works everything for our good and his glory.
Our eyes are on you…
In 2 Chronicles 20, Judah was invaded by enemies and in the face of disaster, they cried out to the Lord to deliver them: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12 ESV)
The Lord’s answer for Judah holds so much peace for us in our trials: “Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s… You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf…” (2 Chronicles 20:15, 17 ESV)
Through a series of events in October, we were able to purchase a beautiful, forty-year-old house. It wasn’t our original plan, but that’s okay. We are learning to rest in the love of a Father who has a plan and a purpose for us.
And as we stand firm and fix our eyes on him, we laugh without fear of the future. We know we can make plans, but they may not end up working out the way we’d thought they would. But nothing we can do will separate us from the love of Jesus or His plans and purposes for our lives. He is in control and we are not, and for that I am so grateful!