To Love God {a post on Crazy Obedience}

IMG_0921Last night my husband taught the High School group at church, because their pastor got sick with the flu. At group time, I cut out, and joined the congregation for communion in the main sanctuary.

So, while I sat, holding the bread and the cup, I remembered God’s Son—His broken body and life poured out. Sweet confession began stirring deep within. This heart in me being prone to wander, the cross appeared like a Shepherd’s crook, hooking my neck, drawing me back to Him, again.

All day I’d been pondering Jesus’s obedience, when He crouched on His knees in the Garden of Gethsemane, sweating blood while battling His will. The march to the cross being set before Him, He prayed, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).

While thinking on this, I asked myself, what is obedience, but joining with Christ in this same prayer? It’s submitting our desires to whatever He has for our lives. It’s receiving with opened hands what He chooses to give or withhold.

Obedience isn’t always easy, and I think the example Jesus shows doesn’t mean we can’t ask for another way.

What obedience does mean is that we ask for His way above our own, and sometimes we will have to crouch on knees, sweating what feels like blood, toiling in prayer, before our will is finally surrendered.

Just over a year ago, my husband stepped down from leading the high schoolers he taught last night. It thrust us on an emotional roller coaster. The decision contradicted everything in our hearts. If God’s called you to something, likely it’s okay to pursue it. This time He worked backwards with us. He asked us to give up the thing we love. He asked us to release our hold on what we believed to be God’s call.

We found ourselves praying with Jesus, “Not my will, but Yours, be done.”

Through this, I’ve seen in my heart that it’s easy to be in love with the call. It’s easy to get excited when you hear your purpose and know your destination.

But when God asks you to let go of the call, it strips away all spirituality, and gets at deep motives in the heart. Do I love the call more than the One who gave the call? Will I be content to serve my Lord if He asks me to let a desire or a dream completely die?

What if He asked me to live a quiet life–to slip under the eyes of others and labor with no reward here on this earth? Am I willing?

Abraham had a hard call. God asked him to take his son and sacrifice him on the altar.

When the time came for Abraham to plunge the knife into his teenager, with arms above his head, another call came, “STOP.” God knew then that Abraham loved Him.

But didn’t God already know that Abraham loved him?
Or was the sacrifice really meant to show Abraham that he loved God?
Did God use this to strip away deep motives in Abraham’s heart? Maybe there were desires for fame. God had promised a lineage through this son. He’d promised the Messiah.

I find in my life that obedience to God’s will is really just this: God proving to me I already love Him by stripping away all other motives.

As much as I need to know God loves me, I need to know I really love Him, and I’m not in this Christianity for me. I’m in it for Jesus.

So when I took the bread and cup in my fingers, and I began to remember all the ways I’ve failed my God, I also remembered all the ways He’s sustained me. Recognizing at the same time that it isn’t obedience which qualifies me to be used by Him–that’s grace. Obedience is what proves my love. And many times my failure leads me right back to the obedient path.

It’s here I find myself lifting these elements. Bread in hand, I eat. The cup which symbolizes God’s wrath poured out on His Son, the cup which symbolizes His own bloodshed, I take and drink.

And I remember it was this cup He asked God to take away. This cup He drank in obedience, proving His love.
And His obedience is the great motivator for all my obedience, causing me to say, “Not my will, but Yours, be done.”

Elisabeth Elliot has written, “To love God is to love His will.” 
Yes, “To love God is to love His will.”

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  1. Jacqui! I SOOO needed to read these words right now. I wanted to copy and paste the ones that stood out to me the most… but there was so many… Praying the “not my will, but thy will,” what God did in you and your husband when you chose to follow God even if it meant laying down your call, the communion, and this: “And I remember that it was this cup He asked God to take away. This cup He drank in obedience — proving His love.” Thank you Thank you dear friend for writing this. God so answered some of the deep questions on my heart in this. xo

    • Thanks dear friend! It encourages me that you were encouraged. I love your heart so much and I’m so excited to see God working in your life. Love you!

  2. Danielle Rubino says:

    Thanks Jacqui, I needed that too.

    • Thanks Danielle! I’m glad to be an encouragement to someone who does the encouraging to me! I love being a part of your Bible Study group this year!

  3. Thanks for inspiring.

  4. Jaqui, how I resonate with the tension of making the mission an idol. The challenge of being all about working for God instead of being with God is great.

  5. Right there with you. Thank you as always.

  6. It happens so often that when God closes a door and says “no” or “not right now” that we begin to see our true motives more clearly. I’m thankful for that. Thankful for his mercy in showing us our true selves and our need to grow in our faith. This post was so encouraging. We should want God’s will to be done above all else, I am learning more about that with each passing day. Thank you for your words here. :)

    • Thanks Marisha. i agree with all you’ve said, and I, too, am learning more about wanting God’s will above all else with each passing day. I’m also thanking Him with you for His mercy in showing me my true self. It can be hard, but it also stirs my heart to love Him and desire Him more. Thanks so much for commenting! Blessings!

  7. Beautiful thoughts represented here Jacqui.

  8. Resonated so much with what you shared here. You absolutely got to the heart of Spiritual obedience, I especially gave pause and read and re-read your “obedience is not what qualifies me to be used by Him: that’s grace. Obedience proves my love”.
    There is so much disguised “self & flesh” in Christian service and Church serving isn’t there?
    For the last year God has been slowly peeling away the facade and revealing true motives. At the center is always the loving kindness of Christ , and He keeps it from not being so painful. I am ready to join in with Crazy Obedience, now that sickness and windows 8 trauma seems to have passed.
    One more thing, I just finished Forgotten God by Francis Chan {writer of Crazy Love} and so many of the points you made line up with this book. You can read my review on my blog. I think you would enjoy it.

    • Hi Leah, I’m so sorry to be slow at responding to comments lately! I like that you said this: “At the center is always the loving kindness of Christ , and He keeps it from not being so painful.” Isn’t He good, to be so patient with us. To slowly reveal our hearts to us as when we’re ready. I’ve actually never read any of Francis Chan, but I have heard him speak a little, and wow, he’s good! I will read your review and look into his books. I guess I just get overwhelmed, lately, and get behind on reading. Anyway, thanks for all your encouragement. Hope you’re doing well!

  9. I’m just getting around to read everyone’s posts I missed. This was such a blessing Jacqui. Not my will, but His. Yes! So hard to do and so easy to forget. Thank you for allowing God to use you through your words. Beautiful.

    • Thanks Jesenia! I have a lot of posts I need to catch up on, too! I don’t know how anyone stays on top of it all! Anyway, thanks for your encouragement, friend. <3

  10. I am printing this bit, right here, out on a notecard for rememberance: “Obedience isn’t always easy, and I think the example of Jesus shows that it doesn’t mean we can’t ask for another way.

    What obedience does mean is that we ask for His way above our own”
    Yes! Amen to this – I needed to read it and hear it. I did. Thank you, Jacqui. Once again, your words are such an inspiration to keep working this walk out in fear and trembling and faith.

  11. Leaving what you love, the people you love, the place you’ve been isn’t easy. Because really, when you’ve been serving certain people can look on it and call it ‘failure’. Faithfulness and obedience in the small stuff no matter where you live, where you are…that is obedience. It isn’t in the grandiose. It is in the everyday steps to love our neighbors and do what we know God says His will is. To love our neighbors, to visit the sick and widows, to love the orphans….in as much as we do it unto the least of these, it is unto Him. Sometimes there are difficult choices that look like to the world that we are going backwards…but what if…what if to God it is a step forwards?

    • You’re right, it’s in the day to day seemingly simple things where obedience is really shown. And yes, sometimes our choices to obey the Lord will look backwards to the world. But I agree that if it’s real obedience, it’s always forward. And you’re right about the failure thing. Truthfully, that’s been the most humbling part for us in our decision; that some would look on and think we failed. That we ourselves can feel like we failed. But we are trusting the Lord and for that we have already succeeded. It’s the enemy who would like us to set our eyes on ourselves and feel like failures. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, LIsa! Blessings!:)

      • We’ve been there, too, that place where people whisper ‘failure’. Or sometimes they don’t whisper it. But I think the most comforting thing for us was that we had the support and understanding of my husband’s parents who’d also experienced something similar, and the knowledge that God had brought us to this…and that we were and would be okay. That doesn’t mean tears haven’t been shed and our hearts a bit broken. But God has been and is faithful to us. He has given us so much, He has taken care of us.

        • Thanks so much for sharing this, Lisa. Your words mean a lot to me, and I truly relate. We’ve cried lots…me more! :) But like you said, God is always so faithful and so good. I trust His plans. He knows better than me, and I see the character He’s building in us. it’s been hard, but oh, so worth it! Blessings, friend!

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