I’ve been thinking a lot about obedience lately. In the conclusion to 50 Women Every Christian Should Know I wrote that obedience is the thread that ties all fifty women together across diverse time periods, geography and personal circumstances. “Circumstances don’t matter nearly as much as obedience,” I wrote in the afterword of the book, “because God calls us to answer right where we are.”
Sounds like I have obedience all figured out, doesn’t it?
Oh yeah, I do. On paper.
As it turns out, obedience is a cinch to write about, but awfully hard to live out in real life.
I am walking through an uncertain period right now. Several publishers have turned down my current book proposal, my agent is asking me hard questions about what I want to do next, and I don’t have any clear answers. It feels a little wildernessy, and I’ll be honest: I don’t like the wilderness one bit.
And so I’ve been doing what I always do in the face of uncertainty and doubt. I’m racing ahead of God, bent on figuring everything out myself.
For the last two months or so I’ve concocted a number of plans and expectations of how I think all the pieces of my fragmented career will fall into place. When the tide seems to move in a certain direction, I run with it, confident that I know God’s plans for me.
“Aha!” I declare. “THIS is what God’s going to do. THIS is how it’s all going to work out!” Until, that is, it doesn’t work out that way at all. And then I find myself back at square one – still with no publisher, a lot of questions and no direction…in addition to being frustrated with and disappointed in God.
I cycled through this process of planning, expectations, hope and disappointment three times in the last two months before I realized something important:
God hasn’t failed me, and he hasn’t led me down these dead-end paths, because God isn’t the one who created any of these plans in the first place.
I did. I put my faith, hope and confidence in Plans A, B and C – plans of my own making – instead of in God himself.
When I recently read these two verses from Psalm 95 aloud to Brad, he said this in response: “Obedience has to begin with a position of humility.”
The more I thought about it, the more I realized Brad is right. Obedience starts with humility – with our honest acknowledgement that God is sovereign and that he alone is in control. God is the shepherd – the leader – and we are the people he watches over, the flock of sheep who follow under his care.
As my friend Shelly, who recently walked through her own wilderness, says: “Having a Plan A or a Plan B isn’t at all what God wants. He wants us to trust him with all the uncertainty and to put our hope in him, not in our best-case scenario.”
Obedience begins with humility, with kneeling before the God who “holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountain,” the seas and the dry lands. (Psalm 95: 4-5).
Let us kneel before the Lord our maker. Let us hand over our plans and all of our self-created best-case scenarios to him.