I've had a bit of obedience to do this week, and I haven't felt like doing it. It's been a struggle. It's a keep-on-going-with-the-hard, when what I want to do is enjoy the fall weather and have a break, kind of obedience, and I've struggled mightily. I've wept. I've prayed. I've fasted.
Missionaries should always feel like doing what God says, right? Not necessarily.
It's not "feeling like obeying" that's importance. It's actual obedience that matters.
Jesus didn't always "feel" like obeying God, either.
His time in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion is a perfect example. He agonized. He sweated drops of blood. He seriously did not want to haul the cross through Jerusalem on His holy back, lie down while soldiers impaled his hands and feet with rough iron nails, and hang by those nails with all the sin of the world on his shoulders.
"My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt." Matthew 26:39
The redemption of the world, my redemption and yours, depended entirely on the willingness of the Son of Man/Son of God to push past how He felt and do what God said anyway.
That's a scary thought, isn't it?
I wonder what depends entirely on my willingness to push past how I feel and obey...
In the midst of all my crying, praying, and fasting, I've tried to do what Jesus did. Obey anyway. Did it make me "feel" more like obeying? Nope.
Discipleship is not about "if it feels good, do it," but about "if God directs, do it."
It's that simple. It's that hard.
James, the younger half-brother of Jesus, wrote about trials that are hard. The word he used for trials comes from the root word meaning "to pierce." The hard things we go through are to serve as a divine piercing through which all the "not-like-Jesus" can trickle out.
Do we, then, fake a smile and keep pressing on? No. Jesus didn't fake a smile about the cross. He agonized, but He also prayed. He asked to avoid it, but He also surrendered. He didn't want to go, but He got up anyway. When the soldiers came, He didn't run. Instead, He stepped forward with "I'm your man" obedience.
How do we get through trials without losing our testimony? The same way Jesus did. We pray. We surrender. We obey. We keep obeying. At the end of the trial, we win the victory.
James listed a few actions that will help us along the way.
1) Choose joy anyway. (James 1:2)
2) Take your eyes off the trial and put them on the outcome. (James 1:3)
3) Allow yourself to learn the lesson in the trial. (James 1:4)
4) Don't quit, even when it's what you want. (James 1:3-4)
5) If you need wisdom, ask God for it, not your well-meaning friends. (James 1:5)
This week, I've done what James suggested. It's what my fellow missionaries do all the time. I've chosen joy anyway. I've looked toward whatever I'll have learned at the end. I've pondered the lesson I'm being taught. I've persevered. I've asked God to show me the way.
All those James-style actions didn't change my desire. They helped me obey, though, and the ongoing obedience has helped me persevere. Somewhere down this road, I'll be more like Jesus than I am right now, and closer to the holy perfection He desires for me.
Is it hard? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. Immeasurably so.
If our struggle, our question, today is whether or not to obey in something hard, the answer is yes. Do it. Even if you don't feel like it. Why? Because it's worth it in the end.
"And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and completely, lacking in nothing." James 1:4 nasb
Please like and share to extend our digital reach.
Or you can mail your check or money order to: Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line.