2021 was my year of seeking obedience.
I entered the year anticipating it would be a wild ride of more of the same (or even crazier nonsense) that was experienced in 2020.
There were also five things I felt prompted to pursue:
1.) Love God and love people
2.) Know God is good even when life feels bad
3.) Be the person God created me to be. Do the things God has planned for me. Go to the places He calls me to go.
4.) Work towards unity within my community (church, school, neighbors, etc.)
5.) Never stop praying
You can read my full post from January 2021 here.
I just love how God works and I know He put those five calls to action on my heart for a reason. I’m also humbled and thankful that I obeyed even when I did not understand or know where it would lead.
For me, 2021 was like a constant tug-of-war of fearless faith and blind trust that at times felt like uneasy tension and at other times overwhelming peace. It was strange, to say the least, but it also guided me back to the place where God wanted me – trusting Him, believing Him, following Him, and obeying Him.
Five things I learned during my year of seeking obedience
1.) Obedience is more than a “yes.” It is also a “no” or “not yet.”
I don’t know about you, but to me, obedience always equaled “yes.” I assumed my year [seeking obedience] would be spent saying “yes” to things I didn’t necessary want, need, or desire. But that ended up being only half of the lesson…
I discovered obedience is using wisdom to activate discernment.
Is this person, situation, opportunity, experience, feeling, etc. good and godly or wrong and worldly?
Sure, obedience can be saying “yes” to something that goes against your human nature or it can be saying “yes” when you don’t know what you’re saying “yes” to.
At the beginning of the year, I was a full-on “YES” girl, ready to accept whatever the Lord had in store. But towards the end of the year, God’s been doing some work on me – like a test to gauge my commitment to His best while showing me the importance of patience during the waiting period of not yet.
I am walking through this shift in posture right now and for me, it is not a comfortable modification. Still, I trust it will realign me with the work God has assigned me.
2.) Outward direction begins with inward reflection.
You know that gut feeling where something either appears meant to be or completely wrong?
In those moments, Do you trust your “instinct” or do you follow the ___ (“feeling,” “science,” “mandate,” etc.)? Do you pursue what everyone else is doing or do you do the things you know you ought to do?
I experienced several convictions in 2021 and believe it was in response to various events, themes, and other off-putting occurrences from 2020 that seeped into 2021 or were magnified in exposure and/or threat over the course of this year.
Each time these incidences arose, I would retreat to prayer and consult God’s Word – Is this [feeling, message, situation] from the world or is it other-worldly? Did God really say that? Was Jesus just a Middle Eastern social justice activist who fought the unfair and corrupt “systems” of his time as so many woke Christian social justice warriors claim or was His life truly against the culture to break the captives free?
Between speaking at my local public school board meetings to sniffing out toxic ideology and divisive curriculum, hearing renown Christian “influencers” jump on the CRT/racial justice/“love is love” bandwagon in exchange for forgoing the healing salve of the Gospel, and seemingly everything in between, my spiritual alert was high and flashing brightly with conviction throughout 2021.
When you’re accustomed to the aroma of Christ, the stench of rotten fruit is easy to smell, and that smell will linger until you dispose of it for good.
I could have listened to many voices attempting to steer me off-course or assure me that no such nonsense was being implemented, implied, or accepted but I didn’t. Instead, I quieted the noise and tuned into the Spirit. I asked,
Help me to discern what is good, right, and true from what is bad, wrong, and false. Open my eyes and remove any blinders that may be restricting my view. Show me Your goodness and intent. Break my heart for what breaks Yours.
Be careful when you pray prayers like that because God will respond in ways you’d never imagine. And that inward reflection [that comes from His Spirit] will guide the direction in which you are intended to go (Psalm 25:4-5, Psalm 119:105).
3.) Open hands. Open Heart.
Throughout 2021, I also prayed for the Lord to use me, guide me, and sanctify me. In those prayers I’d ask for God to kill my pride, release my selfish wants, needs, and desires, remove any blinders that may be restricting my view, and open my heart to receive whatever He has for me. Because I know my God always provides exactly what is needed in the exact moments of need, I prayed for patience, peace, and contentment for whenever or however His faithfulness and provision would be revealed.
Often (mostly while I ran on my treadmill), I’d literally close my eyes and open my hands palm-side up to physically demonstrate my acceptance of “thy will be done.” This emotional spiritual prompting became my outward commitment to seeking God’s will and His way over my own.
We may not know what the future holds, but we can rest in knowing the One who holds the future. His plans are always perfect. May your heart be open to receive the bounty of His blessings.
“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”Proverbs 16:9 (NLT)
4.) One step forward is one step closer toward finishing God’s work.
I’m a Type A personality. I like to be in control, I like to be prepared, and I like to plan ahead.
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)
Naturally, Type A personalities have a hard time surrendering control or yielding to the way of the Lord. When we continue to step in our own direction, however, it often leads us off the path of God’s purpose. It can derail us from where we’re meant to travel or delay us from when we’re supposed to arrive.
While seeking obedience this year, I discovered I don’t need to see the whole map to know where I’m going. I just need to take the next step forward, trusting God will guide me the rest of the way, each and every day, so I can finish the work He has given me (Acts 20:24).
5.) Opposition never goes away.
The enemy hates any allegiance to God, especially active obedience.
When you answer God’s call and follow His direction, evil forces will try to deter you.
Spiritual warfare is real, friend. No other time in my life has the dark spiritual forces felt so apparent than they do now…and they’re everywhere. No one and no thing is off limits.
But take heart – the opposition is strong right now because it knows it is losing. Yet, Christians know God will prevail and in fact He already has. Never forget that the world hated Jesus and was against Him, too (John 15:18-19).
Going against the grain of culture will never be easy. You will lose (relationships, your job, reputation, etc.) in order to gain (God’s favor). Count the cost. Continue to do the Lord’s work, sticking to your convictions, seeking wisdom and discernment, spending purposeful time in the Word, and pursuing a life of dedicated obedience (Romans 8:18-39). Death of the self gives life to the soul.
I went outside of my comfort zone this year and it wasn’t always easy, but it was always rewarding. I didn’t always stay the course but keeping the word obedience on the forefront of my mind redirected and refocused me during times of need, noise, and desperation.
I don’t know what lies ahead in 2022 but I pray for more obedience. The world needs followers of Christ to answer the call to live like Christ. We cannot afford to be scared or selfish. We possess the remedy to save this dying world – we need to boldly proclaim it and fearlessly share it! We need revival – it is the only way we can fight this spiritual battle and win the culture war. I believe through the obedience of God’s people and the power of the Holy Spirit working within, we can experience revival in our lifetime. He has done it before and I know He can do it again.
As we close out the year, I pray your faith will be tested, strengthened and stable from withstanding the fire. May God be with you, bless you, and keep you each and every day you are gifted life on this planet.
I love you, friend!