Many times over the course of this past year, Anna and I have paused to reflect on what God is teaching us through this painful experience. There are several main themes in my journey – things like: working through the past wounds of rejection, being courageous enough to be vulnerable, allowing God to show me that I have been truly accepted in sonship, and that allowing him to minister to me in my pain (not running from it but fully embracing it) is one of the greatest acts of obedience that I could ever hope to engage in.
I would like to spend a few moments on the last one. We have discovered that obedience is a central message/theme in our story. Much of what we are choosing to do, choosing to fully embrace, choosing to walk through can be summed up with the word – OBEDIENCE. It took us a little while to discover this but God has been faithful to continue to reveal this theme to us over and over again. We believe that it is what we are charged with; God has called us to obedience.
One thing I have discovered is that obedience costs us everything. It is painful. We often suffer when we are truly obedient. In the book The Cure, authors John Lynch, Bruce McNicol and Bill Thrall have this to say. “We’re also introduced to the reality of suffering which results from aligning ourselves with the truth. God employs this suffering to mature the humble as we come under his influence. As we grow in trust during this suffering, God expands our influence. We are experiencing that other people increasingly trust us with truth.”
We are called to align ourselves with Jesus, who is our best model for obedience. I mean He suffered obedience! His agonizing and brutal death on a cross was one of the greatest acts of obedience we have ever heard about. The crazy thing is, it was this act that taught him obedience. “Although He was a son, He learned obedience from what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). This is part of the amazing humility of Christ. He emptied himself, became a man, and suffered death – something gods typically don’t do. He did this so that we might understand the gift of obedience; as an example to us,that we might learn to be obedient. Obedience ultimately cost him his life. Something He laid down gladly out of his great love for the Father and for us. Obedience always comes at a cost and that cost can be great. Pain likely will be included and suffering as well. But I don’t believe there is anything quite as utterly holy as someone who is walking in obedience.
Some questions may come to mind for you, they certainly have for me. Why are we called to obedience? Is it just so that God can lord over us? Is it just so that we can follow all the “rules”? No, I really don’t think so. I think we are called to obedience to be healed of our wounds. We all have them. We are all broken…so incredibly broken. We are stuck. Obedience requires that we trust. True and holy obedience requires that we let God into the deep recesses of our souls. It requires us to acknowledge and to deeply feel our wounds. “A wound that goes unacknowledged and unwept is a wound that cannot heal” (John Eldridge).
For Anna and I, obedience looks like this: First, we are called to look into the eyes of those suffering and provide them with whatever we can sacrifice (Caroline Project). More so we are called to suffer with them. This, most of the time, is the easier obedience although it can be painful and can cost a great deal. Quite honestly we don’t always want to be obedient. Frankly, I would prefer to have a baby in my arms, but for now it is obedience.
Second, we are called to feel our pain. Anna described it in an earlier post by stating that we are staying in the discomfort. This is the harder of the two acts of obedience. I hate feeling this pain. It sucks. I hate that my body doesn’t work and that I can’t fix it. I hate that I have these stupid spiritual wounds that require healing. A healing that isn’t all that pleasant and not at all easy, but the narrow road by its very nature isn’t pleasant and easy. However, what I learned through reading John chapter 5 the other day is that deep and complete healing requires that we do something (acts of obedience). It requires the lame to pick up our mat, and walk. It requires that we walk in obedience even if others may question our actions.
I have no idea what God is going to do with our circumstances; He may do nothing to change them. I do know that if I allow him to heal me through these acts of obedience, He faithfully will do so. I really have no hope of healing apart from this. There was a point in John chapter 6 where Jesus asks his disciples if they are going to leave him. I feel that Anna and I are at that moment in our lives. He is asking us – “Are you going to leave me???” We have come to the same conclusion as the disciples did – “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” This, friends, is obedience. And I invite you to join us on the narrow road.