I remember the time when God asked me to do something that I REALLY didn’t want to do. I had been manipulated. I had been hurt, and the last thing I wanted or knew how to do was love the person God was asking me to love. But above anything I wanted to be obedient.
I would love to say that obedience lead to a glorious ending, but it didn’t. It lead to years of disguised manipulation, wrong beliefs about other people’s character, and ended with me feeling like a fool and wondering if being obedient for so long had been worth it when the obedience felt worthless. That thought was something that I really wrestled with for awhile. Sometimes God asks us to do some really hard things, and we are not promised a fruitful outcome. What is God asking you to do that you don’t really want to do?
I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
He said, “Go and tell this people:
“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”
Then I said, “For how long, Lord?”
And he answered:
“Until the cities lie ruined
and without inhabitant,
until the houses are left deserted
and the fields ruined and ravaged,
until the Lord has sent everyone far away
and the land is utterly forsaken.
And though a tenth remains in the land,
it will again be laid waste.
But as the terebinth and oak
leave stumps when they are cut down,
so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”
I was reminded of part of Isaiah’s life over the summer. Isaiah saw a portion of God’s glory and in his awe and amazement He told God to send him during a time of spiritual darkness, and also not knowing what God would ask of him. God doesn’t tell Isaiah the task will be easy. He tells Isaiah that his efforts would seem like they wouldn’t bear fruit. Regardless, Isaiah stepped up in obedience because he got a glimpse of God’s greatness, and that greatness was enough for him to say “send me”. But God doesn’t leave Isaiah without a bit of hope. “The holy seed will be the stump in the land”… that what seems dead may breathe new life.
Sometimes God asks us to do some really hard things, and doesn’t guarantee us that we will see fruit from our obedience. Loving people who have wronged us, saying I’m sorry, making a big life change, giving up something or someone that we love, and the list can go on and on and on. I think of Jesus, and how He knew that His path would be painful. Regardless of what He knew, He still did His Father’s will.
What is God asking you to do that you don’t really want to do?
Being obedient and following God can be hard, and sometimes it can be hurtful and the hurt can linger for a long time. The cost of obedience can leave you wondering if following Him is really worth it.
Ultimately I know that obedience to following what God asks is worth it even when it is hard, not because of any promised or hoped outcome but because He alone is worth it. My situation had felt worthless, but recently I had a friend share with me about a situation that she was in that left her feeling very similar to how I have felt in my time of hurt. Although what I had gone through was very painful, it was a blessing to be able to say to her “I understand how you feel, I have been there too. You did nothing wrong.” and also to be able to pray with her that God would keep her standing on His truth during the storm, and that this would not have effects on how she loved others in the future.
What is God asking you to do? I encourage you to be obedient to what He is asking, no matter how difficult it may be. His way may not be the easiest way but it is the way that breaths new life.