The first you’ll notice (if you have nothing better to do than follow this blog) is that I skipped a chunk of the alphabet to arrive at “O” in this A-Z blogging challenge. The irony, then, is the title of this post. I cannot be obedient even to alphabetical order.
Longtime friends, it’s safe to say, do not associate me with the word obedient. My mom surely doesn’t. I was born under a birth sign that disqualifies me, as well. My sign is the spontaneous traveler of the zodiac—the one that favors ill-planned trips and missed reservations rather than thoroughly researched destinations purchased a year in advance.
My sign says, “Don’t tell me what to do.”
The fact that I’m sharing this story is an act of obedience. I asked God today what I should write about, and this was His idea, totally not mine. If it was mine, “O” would have been something way less revealing than it is. But this is His gig, not mine… so here you go.
For the last year, I’ve been going through unfamiliar stress at work. I hadn’t been praying much about it because I thought I could handle things without God. In fact, I can probably admit that God and I had been on a hiatus (He *gets* this—we all do it occasionally). I firmly had my hands on the wheel and was steering erratically, still confident I knew what I was doing. My business was turning dark, and not in the way its nature dictates (Halloween businesses should be a little dark, but not like this). The atmosphere had turned ugly and negative. I was having trouble being my usual upbeat self—conditions at work, typically so happy and loving, had changed. A dark cloud had moved in to smother the sunny playground.
The joy had disappeared like helium from a popped balloon.
It was no one’s fault. We’d been on a fiery downward spiral for a year. My previously positive work environment was beneath a thunderstorm from the day we left our old location. I tried hard to get back the joy, but I could not prevent the eventual landslide of negativity in the forecast. So when a series of events worked together to end my job there, I can’t say I was surprised.
The obedience began shortly thereafter and is surely why I must be writing this blog.
A few days before the volcano erupted, two strangers entered (and exited) my world. They each had a message for me that was—as you will read—God’s words spoken through messengers since, well, He can’t be here in person to prepare us for the junk in our lives. My first act of obedience was recognizing that their messages were for me.
Suffice it to say that I met them both during conditions I should not have met them, and the messages came during unsolicited stories they shared about their faith. Remember: I hadn’t been close to God; my faith had taken one of those spontaneous trips where you pack no luggage and make no reservations.
Thankfully, God doesn’t take vacations.
Stranger number one was so full of joy. I met him on the eve of a trip to Birmingham, and I barely had time to pack, much less sit and listen to a stranger’s 55-minute story about his walk with God. But I sat, I listened, and I was rewarded with four words God made sure I knew were for me. “Give it to Me.” The stranger took about 50 minutes to get to it, but the message was clear. Neither God nor the stranger defined the “it” …but I suspected that I knew.
The next morning, my whole being was still humming from that message when stranger number two sat beside me on the plane. His first words to me were about faith, and I knew instantly that God had something else to tell me. “You know,” said the stranger, “it’s real easy to have faith on the mountaintop, when everything is going your way. But what about in the valley, when things don’t seem to be going your way? Will you have faith then?”
Oh, boy. We think we will, don’t we? But we really don’t know until we are tested. And I was about to be tested… three days later.
I’m going to jump to where I am today, and I can report with that I was obedient to God’s messages. The decision to end my association with my business was not my decision—it was decided for me—so, therefore, how could it not be God’s will? My initial reaction was sadness because work had been my life since 2008. However, there’s a certain freedom in not being responsible for the change—a certain certainty, if you will, that it was supposed to happen. My free will was not involved, so my sadness quickly changed to gratefulness.
If God was closing that door, what amazing door was He about to open?
And just like that, my globetrotting faith came bouncing back into my life and greeted me like an old friend. “It’s been too long,” faith said. “Let’s not travel separately ever again.”
So, I gave “it” to God—all the negativity, what I thought were my dreams for the future, and the calling I thought He had given me. They were my plans, after all, not His.
When I entered the valley, I had a choice to make: Was I going to act unreasonably or was I going to realize that everything is a part of God’s plan?
God’s plans are good plans. His plans are infinitely better than those we devise for ourselves. And He promises to replace anything we lose with something way better. So, I took my hands off the wheel of my life and am moving in the direction God wants. I’m excited to learn what He has planned for me next.
See? I’m being obedient.
Don’t expect to see a lot of this.