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testing, testing … is this thing obedient?

June 29, 2008

Obedience is better than sacrifice. Better than tithes. Better than financial offerings. Better than volunteering my every spare moment.

Three lessons in obedience in the past couple days.

One
During worship Friday night I was supposed to wait longer. I was supposed to encourage anyone there who did not yet speak in tongues, but wanted to, to trust God and open their mouths and speak. I was supposed to make a way, and I didn’t. I found out later who it was for and repented. I pray that one will come back again, and that that gift will be received soon.

Nothing that I sacrificed – my time, finances, effort, passions – measure up to what I lost in that moment of disobedience because 24 hours later someone should be praying in the Spirit and she’s not. I’m forgiven, sure, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences.

Two
I really want to write a book about my experiences in Missouri in 2001. My freshman year of college and Pancake City. I’ve got stories for a book and, I believe, the ability to write them well. I think it would be really good. I got really, really excited about it. Four pages are done and saved on my hard drive right now.

But it in no way glorifies God. I’ve reasoned with my spirit that if it were wildly successful it could launch the writing career I’ve been secretly praying for and everything thereafter certainly would glorify God. I’ve reasoned that should some success come from it, I would make every effort to point back to Jesus. I’ve reasoned that if some profit came from it, I’d obviously tithe and then some.

But if writing is a gift, it’s from God and it’s meant for His glory alone. Not mine. Not Pancake City’s. Do I want to glorify God with my talent, or become successful according to the world?

“What if I don’t want you to be a successful writer?” He asked me that yesterday. Now, I believe that He wants me to use whatever gift He’s put inside of me, and I believe He wants me to do well. But I still struggle with the hypothetical. What if? What if that’s not what He wants me to do? Am I okay with that? Am I willing to walk away because He says so? How obedient am I?

Three
What if God asks you to break the rules? Not the law. Not His rules. My rules. What if I make a rule about qualifications for a position, a good rule, and He makes an exception? What if there’s something bigger that He wants to do in or through someone and it requires breaking one of my rules?

Can I stand against criticisms (not from anyone in authority over me, because that’s rebellion and that’s different)? Can I stand before accusations of hypocrisy and do what He wants me to do? Where I’ve established excellence, can I sacrifice my reputation?

I think I’ve come to terms very recently with the last one. Number two is still really hurting me. I covet your prayers on that front.

There’s more on this, but I’ll save it for another day lest this become a novel.

1 Samuel 15:22b-23a//Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.

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