When I think of the word Obedience, I associate it with a negative connotation. Who wants to be told what to do? I am pretty stubborn and that is not my groove. However, when I think about obedience toward God, for some reason I don’t see this word as negative. I see it as quite the contrary. I see it as comforting and freeing. These words were spoken in Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV):
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
If I am obedient to God’s plan and seek His will for my life, this is what I can expect in return. These words are the very reason I find ”obedience to God” freeing and comforting.
I always love when my pastor tells stories of situations from the “real world.” I love to hear the power of God’s work in people’s lives. I would like to share a story with you of a time when being obedient to God put me on the path to experiencing the “wow-factor” of the verse I mentioned above.
During a recent church service, my pastor gave a message about “Altars” in our lives. I have often referred to these moments as “stones” in my life. They are powerful “God” moments that serve as faithful reminders of what God has done on my behalf and of what God can do when I meet with a new trial. These stones often serve as monumental faith builders when I experience trials in my life to propel me through in faith to see God’s hand.
Just this week, God put it on my heart (as well as my husband’s) to give additional funds to the church. For our meager income, the amount we felt led to give seemed like a lot. About once a year, I go over our household budget and modify it to better reflect our income and expenses. I had not yet done that and was leery of giving the additional money to church prior to making sure we had the money to give. Quickly, I felt very convicted because I knew I should not question the prompting of the Holy Spirit. My husband and I agreed that the act of obedience and faith lie in giving the money before I did the bills.
The day after I gave the money, I sat down and eagerly looked at our finances. I guess, deep down, I thought that since I obeyed God, He would allow additional money to “magically” appear in our account. Basically blessing us for blessing Him. He had to be looking down on me in frustration on my immature spirit. What did happen was that I sat down for hours and created a spreadsheet to tally up all of our expenses to see if our budget matched our income. There was never “magical money” added to our account. But what did happen seemed to be even better from my perspective.
As you probably already know from my previous blog posts, I am a teacher. This school year has been like no other. As a result of this trying time in education, I have learned more about the use of technology in the past year than in all my human years combined. I was then able to use my newly-acquired tools and resources to create this super fancy color coded Google Sheet that calculates the math on our income and expenses of our household bills. I know this sounds silly, but for me, I loved using my recently learned skills to benefit our household finances. What I created was a workable electronic space to make me accountable for every single dollar we spend. Now, when I am browsing on Amazon or shopping at the mall and I see a super adorable pair of shoes, I question the benefit of the deal vs. saving these funds. Since I must document my spending, I need to really think about what is important.
What God did through this situation was so much better than just “magically giving us money.” Through this experience, God led me to see how I can oversee our family budget in an even greater way. In the end, I believe this new budget strategy will cause us to spend less and save more than we ever have. This simple act of obedience, giving the money he put on our hearts to give to the church, will result in lifelong financial savings.
I find myself asking, “What if I have been looking at blessings all wrong?” What if we asked God to reveal His plan for our lives so we see things from His perspective and not our own? For some, I think this story of obedience might make you want to cringe. We all want immediate gratification. Believe me, I would have loved to write a blog post that said, “I gave money to the church and the very next day, God blessed me in double!” But if I believe God’s real plan is to prosper me further than just an immediate “magical singular money gifting,” isn’t that so much better? Like discovering an ability to save money over the long haul by taking captive every dollar spent… Let’s take it a step further. In 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV) we read,
…and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
I never want to add to or take away from the Bible, but this verse came alive to me when I made a small phrase substitution:
...and we take captive every dollar I spend and make it obedient to Christ.
What if I ask God about every purchase I make? I have a feeling my finances will continue to be blessed. However, if I allow God to take captive my thoughts, I may begin to see things from an entirely different perspective. I may be blessed in a way where I buy less for myself but have more to give to His work on this earth. What a blessing it is to have an obedient heart to do what His will is for our lives, not necessarily what is best for my flesh.
Dear God, Please help me have a heart for you and less for myself. Help me to see all things pertaining to this life from YOUR perspective and not my own. Help me to have the necessary faith to demonstrate obedience in serving you and giving according to Your will. Even if that means there is less for me. Help me to see and experience the blessing in that.
In Your Most Precious Name, Amen.