These two words have redefined my life in more ways I could ever recall. Throughout this month as we have been talking about peace, I have taken time to think about all the moments I have felt surreal peace. Every single situation that came to mind began with the words, “yes, Lord.”
Obedience is tricky. It is not natural, goes against my innate nature, and if I am honest, usually means doing the exact opposite of what I want to do. And something tells me, I am not alone in that feeling. It did not take me long to find story after story in the bible of people who loved the Lord and rebelled because they did not like the path God was asking them to walk.
Let’s look at Jonah…super popular Sunday school story that every church kid knows as the time God commanded a whale to swallow some dude because he did not obey and then was regurgitated three days later. Or if they had not heard the story on a Sunday morning, they definitely watched the veggie tale version. ;]
Jonah was a prophet and he was asked by God to go to Nivevah and warn them about their upcoming destruction. Instead of going where the Lord had commanded him to go, he hopped on a ship and sailed in the complete opposite direction of the Lord, to a place called Tarshish (Jonah 1:1-3). Jonah thought he could run from God, but reality set in when a huge storm came and he was found sleeping in the inner part of the ship when the captain came running down asking him to call to his god for help.
Pausing the story now. I would hate to be Jonah right now because he knew he was in complete and total rebellion and disobeying God and was being asked to call upon the Lord for help. He was being asked to beg God to save their lives.
The shipmates cast lots to see who was at fault for bringing evil upon them, and of course, the lot fell on Jonah. Sin was brought to the light as those on the ship learned Jonah was fleeing the presence of the Lord and he told the men to cast him into the sea. The end of chapter one says God appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah. Three days later the fish spits Jonah out and again God tells him to go take the message to Ninevah and spoiler alert, the city was saved.
Growing up, it was way too easy to point the finger at Jonah and say how stupid he was for ignoring God and thinking he could run off and not be seen or need to confront his disobedience. But I believe if we are all honest, we are no different than Jonah. More times than not, God will ask me to do something and instead of saying, Yes Lord, I will do *fill in the blank,* I say no. And metaphorically speaking, I then am swallowed into the stomach of a fish and have to deal with my decisions.
There is no peace at all in disobeying God. I will be the first to say I have experienced firsthand the peace of saying yes and the torment of running away and I don’t believe I am alone in that category. We receive peace when we walk in obedience because peace is not just a feeling, it is a person. Rarely are we as believers called to do the easy task or walk the smoothest roads. But when we know and have Christ as our lifeline, the more steps we take in obedience, the closer we are to peace himself. When we say no and turn back, we run from the peace freely offered to us.
I don’t know what God is asking you to say ‘yes Lord’ to. But everyday we come to a crossroad, we either obey or disobey. The wonderful news is even when we turn away, God never leaves us and the cross is always welcoming to repentant sinners.
Romans 8:1 says, There is therefore now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
I wrote about the peace of repentance a couple weeks ago, I suppose this is the prequel of that. This post is getting longer than I planned, but bear with me…
We saw the turmoil brought by the storm when we say no to God, but I want to touch on the peace we find when we say yes. A couple years ago I was asked by God to leave my home church and move an hour away from what was comfortable and the place I grew up for 21 years. I walked into this new church, in a new town, with new people, only knowing a handful of them in a room filled with strangers. I had visited the church before, but never with the full intent of pursuing it as my “home.” Until one Sunday in August. To be exact, August 24, 2014…two and a half days after my grandma passed away from cancer. That particular Sunday, church was kind of the last place I wanted to be, but I knew God was asking me to go and that week there was a prophetic word given to those who were hurting and felt burdened by life. Although I did not acknowledge to anyone I identified with what was shared, it was that moment I knew beyond a shadow of doubt God was calling me to move. And so I did.
In saying yes Lord in this, the amount of blessings that have come are innumerable. Life is not easier because I obeyed God’s calling, but the peace that fell upon me as I was preparing to move is surreal. Obedience is never easy, actually it’s usually the hardest road to walk, but one step after another it suddenly becomes a little easier. One act of obedience leads to another and another and another and before you know it, you’re experiencing a peace like never before…because you are walking toward peace himself.
Say yes Lord today. Start small, but keep walking toward him, even when it is hard. He is not going to turn you away, but instead, He’ll walk each step with you.
Until next time,