I had a different post planned for today but while I was listening to the message at The Stirring yesterday, I heard the Lord tell me to share this post instead. The reason I feel like it’s important to share this post, after finishing up the Hearing from God series, is because of something our pastor said yesterday. He was talking about the prophetic and how we speak the words of the Lord out of an overflow of our hearts knowing Him. People in the world need to hear the things God has put inside of us but often times we don’t share, either because of fear, bitterness, or because there’s too much noise in our lives and we aren’t paying attention to what God is doing around us.
The connection for me was made when I thought about this story I’m sharing today. I wrote this post months ago but I wasn’t sure when I’d end up sharing it but God told me to share it today because it’s this story, this moment in my life a few years ago, that snapped me out of a dark place and allowed me to hear God’s voice again, to see what He was doing all around me. It is this story that brought me out of a dark place and because of the words from my friend, I’m able to be here today, sharing out of the overflow of what God has put inside of me. Just as my neighbor spoke truth to me, I want to be here to speak truth to you, and because of his obedience, now I can be.
I hope you enjoy this story and I hope it speaks to your heart, and challenges you the way it challenged me, and changed my life. My hope and desire for you is that it would challenge you and allow you to look at the things in your life through God’s eyes, that you would be able to hear His voice and see how He is moving in your life, even when it feels like He has abandoned you.
I know I wrote the series Walking in Obedience (which if you haven’t read, you really should) but I wanted to rewind a couple years and share how my journey, and passion, for obedience got started.
A couple years ago, when things got really hard with our oldest daughter, my neighbor (the one that lives in the English Tudor – read that story HERE) put on a night of encouragement for us. The night was absolutely transformational for us, but the biggest thing I got was a word I got from her husband. I don’t think he meant the word to be convicting, but God used it to grab my heart and shift my focus back to Him.
Here’s my paraphrased version of what he said,
I’m reminded of the story of Jonah. God asked Jonah to go speak to the people of Nineveh, which he didn’t want to do. In the end, after he ended up being obedient, he was angry and bitter about it.
You’ve already been obedient to the Lord but you have a choice, do you want to end up being bitter about it, or do you want to choose joy, and see God’s hand at work, even though it’s not what you thought it would look like?”
If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile now, then you know how important obedience is to me. God calls us to be obedient to Him no matter what happens, and I will guarantee that 99% of the time it’s not going to look the way we thought it would, or should.
Jonah did an incredible thing, he warned a city and saved over 120,000 lives but He was so mad about it.
This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. So he complained to the Lord about it: ‘Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.'” Jonah 4:1-3
What’s even sadder is the book ends with Jonah arguing with the Lord so we don’t know if he ever found Peace. Here he had done a great act for the Lord but his story ends with him throwing a temper tantrum at the Lord.
I’ve had a lot of conversations with the Lord about how I’m mad, and how I feel like it would be nice if every once in awhile people would just get what’s coming to them, but that’s not how God works.
I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.” Jonah 4:2
As I’ve said before, we shouldn’t be upset about the way the present looks because we don’t see the whole picture, the way God does.
And seriously, do I really want what I’ve deserved countless times?
We have a choice – be obedient, or take the easy way out. If we choose obedience we have another choice to make – trust the Lord that He knows what He’s doing, or be bitter and angry because it didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to.
Which will you choose?
I can tell you that up until our night of encouragement, I was pretty bitter and angry with the Lord. I was mad that He was allowing us to experience such pain and that the pain was taking over. I was mad that He had asked us to adopt, knowing how much suffering it was going to bring us – I thought He loved me, why would He do that to me?
I was so bitter which is why, when I heard the word about Jonah, I was so convicted.
After our night of encouragement I decided to switch my “why me?” questions to, “what are you doing here, Lord?”. To look at each situation with a different perspective, to try to understand the bigger picture.
This perspective shift changed my life.
By choosing to trust the Lord, instead of being bitter and angry with Him, it allowed me to rise above the suffering.
Things with our situation didn’t get better, in fact they only got harder, but I didn’t carry the pain anymore. God showed me that when we say “yes” to obedience, we do what He asks us to do, but then we have to turn around and give it right back to Him, and trust Him with the outcome. If we try to hold onto it, and control the outcome, that’s when we start to get mad that it doesn’t look the way we want it to.
If we give it back to the Lord and trust Him with the outcome then we don’t have to carry the burden, because it’s not ours to carry.
I can tell you from experience, it’s not always easy, in fact sometimes it’s really hard. But I can also tell you from experience that when we trust the Lord, He begins to entrust with even more. I 100% guarantee you that if I hadn’t had an attitude change on that night years ago, I wouldn’t be here today, writing this blog. My husband and I chose to rise above the pain, trust God with what He called us to, and because of that He has blessed us, and trusted us with so much.
I am so incredibly thankful, and forever indebted to my neighbor for his words.
Where are you at in your walk with the Lord? Are you bitter and angry like Jonah, and like I was, or have you chosen to trust the Lord, even though you don’t understand, and your situation looks different than you think it should?
If you missed it, CLICK HERE to check out my 6 part series on Walking in Obedience. If you missed my 5 part series on Hearing from God, you can find it HERE.
Wow, thank you for sharing this. I’ve been dealing with my own bitterness and anger.
I’ve got to the point of actually facing it and God has healed a lot of it already.
It is really helpful to know others in my life have already walked through and hat valley.
I’m glad the Lord has already walked you through a lot of healing but let me know if you ever want to talk. 🙂
Yes Anna…so good!
The work to switch up that question “Why me??!” too “What are YOU doing here?” is so important! I think it is really critical to growing spiritually or stalling out. For me…when I stay in the “Why me?” phase I get stuck and self pity sets in. One time God asked me if I was “done with the pity party” that I had been throwing…no one was attending that party! lol!
Good word here Anna…thanks for expressing it so wonderfully and giving it away!
Haha, I love that God asked you that. 🙂 Thank you.
Linda Miller says
Lots of “life” had happened to me, as you know. I know how it can set me on a wrong road, Thankfully, God is always there to remind me that I am not alone and I have a very loving, forgiving God in my heart and mind. It’s hard when I start to read one of your blogs with “Obedient” in the title. It sets me on the “why” Lord? I was obedient, following your Word when “life” hit me like a boulder. But I am again reminded that if I didn’t have God in my life, heart, the things that happen in “life” would still happened and then where would I be. I would be bitter, angry, depressed and sad all the time. But I do have God in my life and he comforts me, tells me the truth and leads me to the “green pastures” in the Bible where I can find food, water and rest. Obedience keeps me knowing God is with me always.
Wow, Linda, that is SO good, and such a great perspective. Whether we have God or not, “life” does happen because we live in a broken world but I would rather be on this side of things with hope and truth. I think you should write a book about your story and everything God has shown you through it!!! I would definitely read it. 🙂