“Are you willing to do what the Lord wants you to do with your life?” I asked a loved one once who was incredibly hungry to fullfill the Lord’s unique purpose for his individual life. “It depends on what it is,” my loved one replied. I believe God wants to know we love Him so much that we will serve Him with unconditional obedience. In retrospect, I believe my loved one knew exactly what God was calling him to do with his life – but was not yet willing to accept it and obey. I wonder how many of us have put conditions on our obedience to the Lord.
Like so many of us, I am someone who would likes to know where I am going – now. I also want to know how I will get there – now. I want to obey God so long as He gives me something easy, comfortable, and manageable to do. I want the plan and directions ahead of time. I squirm and writhe and fret when I am standing in the hallway, living in limbo, waiting for answers. I cannot deny any of this, and I can only hope over time as my mind is renewed through study of God’s Word that I will become more comfortable in my uncomfortable places. Yet I can say that something huge has changed about me, and it has come rather unexpectedly the more I have fallen in love with the Lord. And God knows it.
For the most part, and yes, with some exception once in a while as I grow in the image of the Lord, I have taken most of the conditions off my obedience to the Lord. I have become willing to do things I do not want to do. Looking back at years past, I moved to Virginia when the Lord called me here despite a desperate desire to not leave the warm climate of South Carolina. I remained in a phenomenally difficult situation that many around me could not fathom tolerating because I knew it was the Lord’s will. I removed myself from a situation against the desire of my flesh. I have written pieces that I absolutely did not want to write. I have spoken the truth in love – and sometimes not in love! – to people when I knew I could lose their love and friendship as a result. More and more, over time, I have learned that God desires my obedience without conditions.
The Lord wants me to trust Him entirely, and I have such a long way to go in this. The Lord requires my trust when I choose to be unconditionally obedient. He wants me to believe He will keep me warm in a cold climate, protect me in a challenging situation, help me when I hurt because I have lost a friend as a result of speaking the truth, and so on. He wants me to love Him so much that I will do what He asks me to do even when it is hard, uncomfortable, challenging, and risky – and, yes, unbelievably painful.
Do you remember Isaiah in Isaiah 6? If you do not, I encourage you to study it. He told the Lord he was ready and available even before he knew what God would call him to do.
Most recently, the Lord has asked me to begin writing two new books without knowing how He will provide my income beyond a little part-time petsitting and teaching a Writers Workshop. The devil has reminded me countless times that my bank account is proof enough I should go out and get a “real job” and toss aside God’s call to write these books.
Yet God wants my unconditional obedience. He wants me to say, “Yes, Lord, here am I.” Most of my life, I have lived the other way around. I made my decisions based on what I saw and what others wanted me to do.
Today, as best I can as I grow in the Lord, I am learning to make my decisions based on my endless love for the Lord, on unconditional obedience – and, of course, on faith in Him.