Challenge 74: Obey the Unexpected

A few months ago I was asked to be one of the teachers for a Bible study series at my church. The subject was obeying God and I was excited about the prospect of teaching something that I have purposed to do over the years with the result of great spiritual growth. My sister in the Lord who was in charge of coordinating and teaching lessons in the series said she asked me because she had witnessed my obedience to the Lord and the fruit thereof. Though she and I both thought that this ministry opportunity was a natural for me, I hesitated, telling her I wanted to pray to make sure this was where God would have me. Let me tell you: It just seemed a perfect fit to be able to teach what I preach and strive to live, but when she asked me I literally felt a block in my spirit. It was as if a hand raised to halt the flow of my inner desires. My mind was saying, “Of course you’ll do this,” but my spirit was clearly saying, “Hold up. Wait a minute.” I knew before I prayed that even though this assignment looked like it was for me it probably wasn’t for me. When I prayed I got the same halt in my spirit and I sensed the Lord saying, “I have something else for you to do.”

I declined what seemed natural for me to the great disappointment of my friend. A few weeks later, after having a death in her family and feeling the pressure of having to coordinate and teach the lessons, she asked me to teach one lesson. I told her that I probably could do it, but let me check. I checked with my husband, who thought it would be okay. “It’s just one lesson,” he said. “Yes, that’s what I thought, too.” But knowing that I was teaching a lesson on obedience I wanted to be sure that I was being obedient so I sought the Lord again. I could barely get out my request when I sensed him saying, “I already told you you couldn’t teach.” And with that, I had to tell my sister, again, that I couldn’t teach.

Maybe you think I should not have even sought The Lord the second time, already knowing what The Lord had said. But then there are those who would have done what I did and yet others who would have listened to their heart instead of The Lord and taught the class. Whatever one of these inclinations, we all have to beware that we often display our love for others when we show our love for God by obeying The Lord.

When I obeyed The Lord my friend got an example to use in her lesson on obedience and God’s grace to be able to study for, develop and teach lessons, and identify others to do so. Sometimes our love for God calls us to do the unexpected or even not do the expected. This is a way of unconditional love: doing what is needed despite the circumstances. And that should be dictated by God. My friend’s circumstances suggested she needed my help and I wanted to help her out of her circumstances, but God decided otherwise. God’s decisions may be hard for us to follow, but to obey Him means to love Him and many times, by extension, means to love others (John 14:15).

We should know that 1) just because we helped someone in the past doesn’t mean we will help them in the future; just because we helped someone before doesn’t mean we were supposed to help them then; and 3) just because we love and respect someone and understand their challenges doesn’t mean we will do what they want us to do. Knowing these three will help us follow The Lord when we hear The Lord’s voice and hesitate to obey because of our history or allegiance to someone. We have to obey God in all things, even the unexpected, and we are likely to get unexpected but necessary results.

Take a Risk Challenge: Seek The Lord to see what unexpected action He might have you do or expected action He might not have you do. Obeying beyond human wisdom truly is a radical act of love.

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