You Are You Podcast: Your Obedience Matters (S2 Ep3)
Growing up in the church, I knew obeying God was important. But I wasn’t ready to give up control of my life. There was standard youthful selfishness but I think my selfishness really accelerated as an adult.
Welcome to Season 2 of the You Are You Podcast! This season, we’ll be doing something a little different. Each month, we’ll release a new chapter of a book called You Are You: Celebrate Your God-given Design and Pursue Your Kingdom Calling. It’ll come as an audiobook chapter, through this podcast, and an e-book chapter, through theyayproject.com.
*Listen to the chapter on You Are You Podcast on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.*
Before my senior year of university, my high school boyfriend and I broke up. This wasn’t a big heartbreak — we’d attended different universities and had simply grown apart. He wasn’t a Christian and we weren’t ready to get married so it made sense to go our separate ways.
My first boyfriend was a sweetheart though. I never doubted for a second that he loved me with all of his heart, as he constantly wrote me love letters and was the biggest cheerleader of my dreams. He knew I longed to write and make something of myself, and he believed I could do it even if I didn’t yet. About a year after the breakup, we were hanging with friends and I mentioned an upcoming move to Singapore - a dream come true for us suburban Canadians. He was impressed and supportive, and I knew I had to apologize for the selfish ‘out of sight, out of mind’ way I handled our breakup. After four years, it wasn’t the nicest.
But supportive as ever, he told me he didn’t think I was selfish. He thought I was self-centered… and that that was a good thing. That while I cared for others, I also believed in myself and worked hard to achieve my goals. I’d gone from having no clue what I would do after graduation to landing this amazing internship. I worked hard and it paid off. He respected that.
And... I drank up that lie that my hard work had made things happen.
When I landed in Singapore, I continued to be fuelled by this lie that self-centeredness was the key to success. It was the era of the girlboss where women were told we could achieve our wildest dreams as long as we lazer focused and worked hard enough. At age 22, I didn’t have enough life experience to know any better. It seemed to have worked for all these glamorous women I was seeing everywhere, surely it would work for me - and of course I’d ask God to bless my plans. So I read self-help books, I planned my life in multiple Excel sheets and Google docs, I wrote ‘dream future me’ bios. I thought I was writing my life.
What made me realise I wasn’t?
For long-time followers of The Yay Project and Yay Podcast, you’ll have heard this before. If you haven’t, essentially my life changed two weeks after my 30th birthday.
At age 29, I’d spent much of being 29 feeling equally very blessed / very proud (probably a warning sign, if this ever happens to you) that my life at 30 was pretty much exactly as I planned it at age 20. I had a great job in book publishing, was about to finish a Master’s degree, had a side hustle as a food blogger regularly attending media events and press trips, and, maybe most exciting of all, was finally dating a good looking, successful, loving Christian man and about to get engaged, married and move into the next stage of my life. Somehow almost all the things I wanted for myself had happened. God was so good!
And then two weeks after 30, I found myself single and confused. For more details on how God used this heartbreak, check out Season 1 Episode 2 ‘How God Used Heartbreak to Teach Me About Emotional Health.’ But essentially one of the reasons the breakup was so painful was because I’d idolized marriage and this ‘next stage’ of life, holding it up as a marker of success so much so that I was ignoring red flags that maybe things weren’t quite as perfect as I wanted to believe. The experience showed me that we can be self-focused on our goals, and give things - even people - what we think is our very best, and things can not work out. If I blamed myself, and thought my effort and therefore I wasn’t good enough, I think it would have been a quick road to some very dark thoughts. But amidst the confusion, I could feel God’s peace surrounding me. Things may not have made sense to me but would I believe that God had a plan?
In my brokenness, I surrendered to God and decided to obey him as closely as I could. I’d tried to plan my life for over a decade and even when I thought things were going to plan, they weren’t. And if I really truly believed God was GOD, then what was I doing not obeying every single thing he said?
That season of loving and seeking God with literally every waking breath changed my life. At first my motivation for obeying quickly was definitely so my heart would heal as quickly as possible. But soon I was experiencing life like never before. Even though I was dealing with a broken heart, I had such deep joy and peace - realizing life’s circumstances may change but everything pales in comparison to the joy of knowing God.
Three months after I surrendered to God, he set me on a journey that allowed me to achieve the kinds of ‘longing to write and make something of myself’ dreams I barely dared to dream of when I was younger. A greeting card collection, international interviews, soon a magazine cover - dreams come true… and they sought me out. Sharing to show that maybe I wanted these things but if I’d sought them out it would have been because I wanted an ego boost. To prove that I’d made it. But when I stopped caring and pursued God wholeheartedly, somehow these opportunities just fell into my lap... and they brought joy but nothing compared to the sweetness of just knowing my God.
Are you relating to this today at all? I pray we take some time to check our hearts and see if there’s anything we want so much we’re in danger of putting it in front of God. If you are, I want to encourage you to pray and give it to God. Trust that if it’s for you, God will make it happen - and then some! His best for you will blow your mind. And if it’s not God’s best for you, all the more quickly let it go.
So to recap: why should we obey God?
1. Obedience honours God
And we want to honor God, amen? We should obey God because he is so worthy of being obeyed. No one is wiser, greater than he is. When we fall in love with God, we will want to live for him more. And as we live for him more, the closer our relationship becomes, the more joy fills our soul, the more we want to praise his name to all who will listen… it’s a good cycle.
As humans, we sin and make mistakes. When we disobey, let’s quickly repent and run back to Jesus knowing he won’t turn us away but will forgive us and lead us forward. Professor Charles H. Kraft, former head of the School of Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary, teaches that,
When a person disobeys his or her master, whether God or Satan, the relationship is weakened (though not broken), unless the person pledges a new allegiance. If a Christian sins but continues to be committed to Christ, the relationship is damaged but not forfeited. And if he or she repents quickly in obedience, the relationship with God is restored to what it was before.
Also while we are all sinners, why do some people seem so much more annointed? Why are they more effective for God’s kingdom? In his book Growing in Prayer, Mike Bickle, founder of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, explains “No one is “good enough” to deserve a greater manifestation of God’s glory. It’s not about being good enough but about positioning ourselves to receive more God.”
May we do whatever it takes to position ourselves to receive more of God. What a joy it is to know him and obey him.
2. Everyday obedience matters
It can be tempting to want to put our own plans first but isn’t it such a privilege that we get to carry out God’s plan? Like how could our plans ever be better than the Lord of Heaven and Earth’s?! That we get to play even a small role in his Kingdom work is incredible.
Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians that,
So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
In all we do, everyday, may we stay close to God - studying his word, seeking him in prayer, and obeying what he says. When I was younger, I often pushed aside checks from the Holy Spirit nudging me to repent. I figured I was young, I had time - but each second is an opportunity to honour God. Each day is one we can spend well. Professor Kraft also explains that, “When a person wallows in sin, Satan has the right to send a demon to live in him or her.” If we know of unrepentant sin in our lives, let’s make today the day we turn from them for good - let’s not allow them room in our lives for one more second! Jesus died to set us free.
3. Obedience allows us to rely on God
Some of my favourite verses are Romans 8:26-27.
And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. (Romans 8:26-27)
I find it so, so comforting and an example of how gracious God is. He knows us humans need help. That no matter how good our intentions are, our flesh is weak. Can you believe that we literally have God inside us through the Holy Spirit? Every moment of every day!!! Us + the Holy Spirit = definitely not weak! Super strong!
And even when we don’t know what to do or say, we can ask the Holy Spirit to intercede for us. We can ask GOD to help us. What blessed assurance that we are so loved and cared for.
So let’s relax and not put undue pressure on ourselves to succeed. We’re obeying God’s plan not forming our own - he will lead us step by step. Sometimes we may want to overwork but let’s remember God’s command to take the Sabbath each week. Other times we may want to obey but doubt our abilities, but let’s remember with God we can do whatever he’s calling us to do. As we do our best, God will do the rest. He’ll take care of us and get us where we need to go - and where he’s leading us? There’s literally no better place to be.
God’s plans for your life are better than you could imagine.
Obey God in every way, always, every day.
Rely on God.
God, are there any areas in my life where I’m being disobedient? Please show me and help me to change.
God, how can I share my testimony and encourage someone else to obey you?
God, help me to love and obey you with all of my heart.