It wasn’t what I wanted to hear. “You write, and you need to show it to other people.” That comment made my skin crawl.
Yes, I write. But why would any one want to hear the thoughts that rattle around in my brain? I, somewhat begrudgingly, put them on paper and shared them with a select few that I trusted intimately. Share the doubts, worries, scabs, warts, wounds, joys, hesitations, disbeliefs, triumphs, and battles with a wider audience? No, that’s vulnerable in a way I didn’t want to be.
But I couldn’t run away from the comments of my spiritual mentor. He, and the Holy Spirit, were on repeat. I steadfastly refused. I thought my refusal was enough. It was emphatic and repeated.
It turns out I was more than completely wrong.
I sat in church last August and was challenged to unearth what was hidden. What has God been asking you to do that you have said no to? What gifts, talents, time, energies, passions had I hidden in the cellar of my heart? And it was as if the sermon was written and preached just for me. I knew what I needed to do. There was no doubt in my mind. It was time to admit that I needed to obey. I had waited and procrastinated and argued for two years about this and the call to obey had never left.
Obedience requires an action of some sort. It is sometimes comfortable. I do the thing I know I should do. The thing expected of me. But on the flip-side, obedience can be scary. In my experience, it has often been a step outside of my comfort zone. It has meant taking leaps into the unknown.
I’m often reminded of Peter, confidently climbing out of the boat as he was called by Jesus to walk on the water. He’s often berated because of his lack of faith. He saw the wind and the waves and began to sink. But what about the other eleven disciples? They were in the boat too! What must the other disciples have been thinking as they watched their friend try this out! I wonder if they were kicking themselves for passing up on such an amazing opportunity! Boat sitting may imply safety, but there’s no adventure to be had when you are riding the pine. (Matthew 14:22-33)
Obedience requires listening. To know what to obey, you have to have heard the command that was given. I’ve doubted the call that I thought I had heard. God certainly wouldn’t ask me to do ___? I have attempted to evade the call, trying to pull a Jonah, and suffered the appropriate accompanying consequences.
But it all comes back to the action. Will I obey or will I not?
I know there is blessing in obedience. The blessing is rarely tangible. Most of the time, it is revealed long after the event requiring obedience has occurred. But in the act of obeying what has been asked, there is the reward in knowing you have done the right thing.
As soon as I said yes to God’s call to write, the weight of secrecy fell off my shoulders. The burden lifted (oh the panic came back the first time I hit the publish button). But the blessing of obedience was a freedom of soul and spirit I had not anticipated.
Knowing what I know now, I wish I would have simply obeyed long ago.