Am I Willing?

Am I Willing?

We live in Germany these days – certainly a treat with many adventures and beautiful scenery! Truly blessed.

Since being here, I have begun to go back in history a bit. Not thousands of years necessarily, but a bit more recent. I have read stories of atrocity, fear, and anguish mixed with stories of courage, hope, and love beyond what I could imagine. I am in a place where some amazing history has played out from the reformation to World War II. I have gotten an upfront look at people that lived and even died for values and beliefs they could not compromise.

This year here in Germany they celebrate 500 years since the Reformation, started by Martin Luther. Coming to understand that “the righteous live by faith” (Romans 1:17), Luther saw the challenges of the church in that time, the inaccessibility of Scripture to regular folks, the idea of salvation based on works, and a righteous God always ready to punish. Reading and studying for himself, he saw the love and grace of that same God and the righteousness of Christ which covers us.

In recognition of this, Luther wrote down his 95 theses and nailed them to the door, intending to bring debate to the church, but instead leading to his excommunication from the church. He became a wanted man, but he did not back down. Regardless of personal thoughts on all of Luther’s ideas and writings, his boldness in what he came to understand in Scripture impacted the history of the Church, even to translating the Scripture to German for regular people to read and study for themselves.

Courage and boldness – would I be willing?

Am I willing?

In addition to Martin Luther, I have been reading much more about World War I and II history. We could certainly debate the good, the bad, and the ugly of both wars as well the battles and military strategy, but what has intrigued me most is the stories of people. Ordinary, regular people just like me.

They were farm wives, housewives, professors, military wives, business women, school girls, moms. Regular people, just like me, yet they did extraordinary things. From hiding people in their homes to choosing a child to send to a foreign land for safety, these women did the extraordinary. They provided illegal rations cards and physically protected others, sometimes at the cost of their livelihood or even their lives. (Just to note, many men did the same, but I do relate most to the women.)

Knowing what the consequences could be, they chose to do right, to do what was best not just what was good. Walking courageously into unknown territory, literally and figuratively, they fought in their own way for the values and beliefs they could not compromise. I am amazed not only by what they did but also by the price they were willing to pay. They CHOSE to do these things. Whether they had to make a spur of the moment decision or had time to contemplate, they CHOSE to courageously do what they believed was right.

As I’ve read stories of these people, I have come across those who chose differently as well, who chose to do the easy wrong instead of the hard right. Truth be told, I can’t really blame them. I mean the consequences could be serious both for them and their families.

Which brings me to the same question – would I be willing?

AM I willing?

Am I willing to risk my life to do what is right? Am I willing to face severe consequences in order to save another? Am I willing to stand by my beliefs no matter what the cost?

Am I willing?

It’s been the question in my mind for weeks.

Scripture gives us examples as well. I think of Rahab who took a risk. Paul went back to Jerusalem even though his friends warned him not to. The famous folks like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego or Abraham and Isaac — all stories of biblical folks who did the hard right instead of the easy wrong, all of them with a happy ending.

Then we read through Hebrews 11 and see that doing the right thing didn’t always turn out like roses this side of heaven. Sometimes the Christian life is hard, and the abundant life we long for isn’t exactly what we planned.

But I would submit to you that it is worth it.

God calls us to obedience – all in obedience – regardless of results, responses, or reactions. So I’ll ask you the same question I have asked myself for weeks now – would you be willing?

Are we willing to do the right thing? Are we willing to be obedient regardless of cost? Are we willing to do what is best instead of just what is good?

Am I willing?

Because He Lives

Because He Lives

Regardless of where and when I sing this hymn, it becomes the anthem of my heart.

Because he lives
I can face tomorrow
Because he lives
All fear is gone
Because I know
He holds the future
And life is worth the living
Just because he lives (Because He Lives)

I have vivid memories of this song, one of them while sitting in the front pew during my mom’s funeral. It was one of her favorite too. While walking through one of the most difficult times of my life, I could remember His faithfulness to me.

Pondering yesterday during Easter, remembering His faithfulness and love again, I had these words in my mind again. The words changed, though, as I thought about them.

In discussions with friends lately, we have been chatting about the difference between words like should, can, and will. I know, it seems silly, but words carry much with them. Because He Lives takes on a bit of a different context for me when the wording changes a bit.

Think about it. What if it said, “Because He lives, I WILL face tomorrow.”

It’s somehow different then.

It’s not just a possibility but a definitive intent to do so.

I will face tomorrow. I will be obedient to Christ. I will glorify Him with my life.

All because He lives.

Easter takes on new meaning and draws me to a courageous obedience – because HE lives.

What is He calling us to do? Are we following with our whole heart?

 

Faithful

Faithful

The one thing I want the Lord to see in me. The one thing I am so grateful for today.

HE is faithful. Always.

It’s been a year of testing and questions and new adventures and finishing deployments and…well, let’s just say it’s been a year. A beautiful, challenging, stretching, learning, growing year. Through it all, there has been one constant thread – HE has been faithful. Every. Single. Day.

I pray the Lord sees the same thing in me. Every moment, every day is there a thread that is constant in my life as well? I long for the words from Jesus, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). I want to live a life of faithfulness to the Lord.

But looking at my life as a whole can be somewhat overwhelming – I mean, it is a WHOLE life. That’s a lot on my plate.

The Lord has reminded me lately though that I am not responsible for my whole life today. I am simply responsible for today.

Obedience – it’s what He has called me to today. Obedience in the little things from words with a neighbor to time with the Lord are what I should be focused on. Knowing that stringing together days of obedience leads to a legacy of faith and a trail of Jesus. If I keep taking steps in the right direction, I end up exactly where I am supposed to be.

So today I am determined to follow Him, one step at a time, one act of obedience at a time. Trusting that if I do that every day I end up leaving the legacy I desire. Knowing I will mess up along the way, I am also thankful for His grace.

For it is His grace that looks through my mistakes and sees a heart that truly does long to serve Him.

He is faithful, my friends. Praying that we are as well.

What has He called you to do today?

 

Obedience

Obedience

So not my favorite word.

One word can bring excitement and fear, energy and weariness, hope and pessimism, joy and sadness. No doubt it does the same to you. God asks us to do some things that are crazy, hard, inconvenient, and uncomfortable. The outcomes of those things can be good or not, and we may not even see the outcome at all.

Are we sure we did the right thing? Did we do it well enough?

We all know half-hearted obedience is not obedience at all. Surely your parents told you such things…or you’ve said them to other short people.  God says the same. We’re not halfway in when following Jesus.

He expects – and DESERVES – wholehearted obedience. Regardless.

 

Regardless of:

Reaction

We encounter lots of people and circumstances in our lifetimes. Very few will react the way we want or expect them to in any given situation. The same is true when we are being obedient to the Lord. Reactions are the immediate replies we encounter.

Example: I tell my children after running multiple errands and a long day that we are back home to stay for the evening. A friend calls and needs some help. We need to be there. I tell the kids to put their shoes on so we can head out. Their reaction is the first words out of their mouths after hearing the news.

Reactions can be a bit intimidating. They can be strong, good or bad, but they are the immediate reply of our heart without thought or processing.

In our obedience to the Lord, we are not responsible for their reactions of others. We are simply called to do what God said to do.  

Response

Different than a reaction, a response is the reply after folks have had time to process information, possibly ask questions, and ponder their feedback. Responses can be just as strong if not stronger than reactions. With a response can come excuses, reasoning, research, etc.

Example: Once my sweet children are in the car and we are headed to our friends, their response is their attitude and words as we go. They’ve had time to think about what we are doing and why, ask questions (sometimes a million) and have a response to it all.

Responses too can be intimidating, especially if they are not what we expected. They are the processed output in response to words or actions of others.

Again, in our obedience to the Lord, we are not responsible for the responses of others. We are simply called to do what God said to do.

Result

This one can be the hardest. We (okay, maybe just me) have visions in our head of what can be and what the Lord could do. It doesn’t always turn out like I expected. This is where relationships could change, visions could crumble, hearts can be broken, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The results of our obedience can be hard to swallow sometimes. We long for good outcomes, encouraging directions, and good fruit, but we don’t always see it.

Example: Taking my children out again to help a friend can result in negative attitudes about the inconvenience of friends or it could instill in their hearts the desire to love others well.

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Results can be encouraging or discouraging and sometimes they can be a long time coming. Just ask some of those patriarchs they list in Hebrews 11. Most of them never saw the full results of their obedience to the Lord. We may never either. God doesn’t promise we will, though. He just says to go.

Again, in our obedience to the Lord, we are not responsible for the results. We are simply called to what God said to do.  

God has called us to obedience – wholehearted, courageous obedience – regardless of reaction, response, or result.

 

May we be faithful to Him today.

I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth, in keeping with a command we have received from the Father. So now I urge you, lady-not as if I were writing you a new command, but one we have had from the beginning-that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk according to His commands. This is the command as you have heard it from the beginning: you must walk in love. (2 John 1:4-6)

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** NOTE: This blog is part of a link up over at Planting Roots! Check it out here.