We have one final question that we need to address in our obedience challenge, one that can leave us feeling potentially lost, empty or brokenhearted. And the question is this: What happens when I’ve acted in obedience and then nothing happens as a result – or worse, it failed miserably?
Let’s hash this out.
Imagine you’ve been praying about something for months. You’ve been seeking God for clarity and discernment asking Him to make clear the way you should go. After this period of waiting, praying and seeking, you hear from the Lord – loud and clear. You know you have heard His voice and are 100% confident in the way you need to walk forward. So you step. It’s a huge step, one that is full of fear, excitement, a little bit of insecurity and apprehension, but mostly confidence because you know the Lord has guided you to this place.
And after all the many steps in the direction that God has called you to, everything seems to crumble. Your mission was a failure, a complete disaster and you are left angry, frustrated and wounded. But worst of all, you’re wondering where God was in it all.
I want to turn your eyes toward the book of Habakkuk. Habakkuk was a prophet who lodged complaints against God for allowing evil to flourish and righteous people to suffer alongside those who were so evil. He has a difficult time reconciling all of this and brings it to God. God responds to Habakkuk’s concerns by telling him that the righteous live by faith (Hab. 2:4). In other words, God was saying, “trust me.”
While you may or may not be screaming about the evil in the world after acting in obedience, you do share a similar feeling as Habakkuk – injustice. You felt you put yourself out there; you were bold and courageous as God commands us to be, and then you’re left wondering why God didn’t seem to show up.
Often, we place our expectations on the throne that is supposed to be occupied by God alone.
And there’s the rub.
Our expectations don’t bring about God’s transformation. God uses obedience to refine us in order to align us with Him. Oswald Chambers explained this idea of refinement through obedience beautifully in My Utmost For His Highest,
“We tend to think that if Jesus Christ compels us to do something and we are obedient to Him, He will lead us to great success. We should never have the thought that our dreams of success are God’s purpose for us. In fact, His purpose may be exactly the opposite. We have the idea that God is leading us toward a particular end or a desired goal, but He is not. The question of whether or not we arrive at a particular goal is of little importance, and reaching it becomes merely an episode along the way. What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end, God sees as the goal itself.”
You see, in those moments after obedience when we’re looking around trying to find God, He’s right there! He wants to be the goal. The point of stepping out in obedience only to fall flat on our face is so that when we look up, we only see God. And we realize in that moment that He is what it’s all about and we can celebrate and marvel in who God is.
As we grow and mature in our faith, understanding that our refinement through obedience leads us to the heart of God, let our cries that rise to Heaven be the same as that of Habakkuk:
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”