I’m writing to you from the road this week. We are in the middle of a major transition, so the next few Tables will be coming to you from somewhere along our 2,850 mile cross-country move…
Also- drum roll please- July will mark the ONE YEAR anniversary of The Table! Because of this, we’re doing things a bit differently for the next couple of months. Instead of our usual monthly theme, June will focus on a collection of reflections on faith and obedience. Then in July, I have some fun “one year anniversary” surprises planned…including a makeover for The Table, giveaways, and more. (For those of you who aren’t subscribed yet, click here to sign up. I share each month’s “Intro” post publicly here. Subscribers get the rest of the story delivered straight their inbox weekly.)
I’m excited to get to share these summer months with you! So let’s dive in…
My question for you this week is this: What does YOUR obedience look like?
Our current season change and life transition has got me reflecting on our various moves of obedience over the years. Some were literal MOVES of obedience (like the one we’re in now!), and some were figurative (where a move of obedience actually meant staying put and not moving at all). Obedience has looked differently for us from season to season, but there has been one consistent factor through it all-a combination of a desire to hear from God and a willingness to follow where He leads.
Both have been critical to the journey of obedience. Growing in spiritual maturity and wisdom, and learning to discern the voice of God above the noise of the other voices around us (to include our own) is just the start. When combined with a faith-filled confidence that encourages us forward despite our doubts or the criticism of others, we end up with a life of obedience that results in powerful kingdom advances.
So I ask again, what does YOUR obedience look like?
I ask this because it’s critical that each of us can claim and steward our own obedience. One of the biggest road blocks to obedience that I’ve found is looking around at the obedience of others to determine what our own should look like. While I am all for learning from others and leaning into the wisdom of those who have gone before, I believe there is a difference between applying someone else’s wisdom to our own journey and thinking that we must make our journey look exactly like theirs. The truth is, your obedience won’t look like your neighbor’s. For me, that has been the most difficult truth to accept.
It is human nature to take our cues from those around us. That’s how we grow in social and cultural intelligence. It’s the method through which we learn how to function in the family, workplace, and context we’ve been planted in. It is also human nature to want to understand, organize, and compartmentalize the world around us. Our brains are hardwired to categorize everything we see and experience. The problem is, we can’t categorize “obedience.” And we can’t always take our cues from those around us. For most of us, there will come a point where obedience means defying the norms. Blazing a new trail. Doing things differently from “the way it’s been done”-and this is where our listening ear for the voice of God becomes our lighthouse, cutting through the fog and showing us the way forward.
Your obedience will not always look like the obedience of others, even if you’re called to a similar purpose. Our mind will often scream at us to assimilate and fit in-especially becuase we live in a world where “different” is often misunderstood and rejected. This is where it’s important for us to KNOW what we’ve been called to, and to follow that leading even when it takes us on a different route from everyone around us. On the flip side of that, I think one of the greatest gifts we can give to another is to accept that their journey will look different than ours. In our natural tendency to want to affirm our own path, we may find ourselves convinced that our way is the “right” way. That basic human need to categorize and assimilate can cause us to push others to conform to OUR path, OUR way, OUR obedience. Yet I believe that true wisdom and maturity can be found in accepting the fact that everyone’s journey will look different, and having not only the boldness to walk out the obedience we’ve been called to but also having the grace and confidence to allow others to walk their own path as well.
Over the years, I’ve had a number of good-hearted and very well meaning people give me their opinions on my obedience.
I’ve been told that I was “running away” when obedience meant moving, and told that I was “weak and afraid” when obedience meant staying.
I’ve been told I was “inconsistent” when obedience meant changing careers, and that I “lacked faith” when obedience meant saying no to new opportunities.
I’ve been told that I was “arrogant and too assertive” when obedience meant leading publicly, and that I was “insecure” when obedience meant settling into a hidden season.
I’ve been told I was “too ambitious” when obedience meant pursuing a path outside of the home, and that I was “too conservative” when obedience meant stepping away from my career to focus within my home.
My obedience has been applauded by those whose path looked similar to mine, and criticized by those whose path looked different. On any given day I can find voices that will affirm my obedience and voices that will reject it. This reality is at the same time confusing, exhausting, and disheartening.
So I ask again, do you know what YOUR obedience looks like?
Have you grown in spiritual maturity and wisdom to the point where you can discern the voice of God above all others?
Have you grown in love and grace to the point where you can refuse to be offended by the rejection AND refuse to be swayed by the approval?
Have you found the people who will pray for you, speak truth to you, and share wisdom with you-even when your journey looks different from their own?
This will be my 3rd cross-country move of obedience in the last 12 years.
In that same time, obedience has meant being a teacher, a pastor, a mother, a writer, and a coach.
Obedience has meant surrender, sacrifice, and selflessness.
Obedience has meant saying “no” when I wanted to say “yes”, and saying “yes” when I wanted to say “no.”
Obedience has meant being misunderstood, rejected, and criticized.
Obedience has meant planting roots, and embarking on new adventures.
Yet obedience has also meant growing, learning, and healing.
Obedience has meant discovering my true identity.
Obedience has meant finding a family of faith that would accept me, invest in me, and release me to my true purpose and greatest potential.
Obedience has meant getting to see God open doors and perform miracles.
Obedience has meant provision, blessing, and a deeper sense of peace and fulfillment than this world could ever offer.
Obedience will always be the greatest challenge-and the greatest invitation.
In short, the adventure of obedience is ALWAYS worth it.
And so, one final time, I ask you-do you know what YOUR obedience looks like in this season, and will you walk boldly, confidently, and graciously into it?
Until next week friends, MUCH love-
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