Restlessness in Obedience

March 2020 

Today, I woke up feeling restless. Restless because I wanted to do something passive, distracting. Something that didn’t require true engagement. If the truth be told, I simply wasn’t in the mood to think and work; to complete the last thing the Lord instructed regarding His plan and my purpose. I wanted to just exist, to sit in the “bubble of faith” that didn’t require any action or work. I wanted to sit in the heady theological arguments that make the mystery of God so fascinating… so enthralling…so distant. I really just wanted to run from The Father’s House; from the high calling I’ve felt pressured much of late to meet. A calling I fear I will be unable to answer; a calling that seems so incredibly overwhelming that I don’t know where to start. 

Compared to many, however, I am blessed with some clarity. The Lord has given me direction for my purpose and an understanding of both my big “C” and the little “c” callings. For as long as I can remember, my heart has leaned into work with those who are in need of encouragement and support. God has even so graciously given me vision for this missionary and shepherding work. It is not a call I take lightly or for granted. My heart both simultaneously aches and yearns for this privilege to be used in His Kingdom. Yet, often my humanity complicates this journey of fulfilled purpose. I can see the final product, but sometimes get stuck in the small things of obedience. And ironically, nothing about this journey is “small,” nothing feels like it’s a small act of obedience. 

Every step feels monumental, exhausting… like a mini-war. 

And against the backdrop of Scripture, it is one. A war between God’s Kingdom and the one where Satan believes he will hold our hearts forever. I find that when I lean into doubt without holding a conversation with Christ, I most often am sucked into Satan’s world…a world that produces frustration, confusion, and distrust of the One whom I vowed to lay my life down before each day. When I choose to lean into doubt without the lens of Jesus’ mystery and His atoning, loving work on the cross, I become immobilized, disconnected, and shame-filled. The promises of God become more elusive and unbelievable. I begin to move in a way that aborts the very things God has conceived within me. I place a pressure upon my shoulders that God never intended for me to experience. 

Scripture notes that Christ invites us into salvation and relationship with Him (Matthew 22:14, 25:35 NIV). He doesn’t pressure us to co-labor with Him or to willingly surrender our lives. He waits patiently for us to draw near to Him after He draws near to us. He changes our circumstances and our hearts facilitating obedience so His will can be accomplished. 

Pressure is not his modus operandi. A heart inclined towards Him is. His heart inclined toward the Father is. 

Pressure, itself, is not a gift. It’s a demonstration that one is trying to be obedient or successful out of their own strength and behavior. In its fullest form, pressure can obliterate our motivation and effect our obedience and faith. Pressure is truly a by-product of pride – the very thing that glorifies self and the work of the enemy. Pressure sows the seeds of restlessness, of energy misdirected; of energy released through the wrong channels for the wrong purpose. 

And who really wants to be working toward the wrong purpose – in any arena or endeavor? 

Who wants to give birth to the wrong thing; to struggle because you’re living outside the will of God and what He wants for you?

Experiencing God’s birthing of anything new is difficult. Indeed, the birthing process for anyone isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes labor, pain, support, forced rest, permitted rest. Continually showing up in the process until the very thing is given life. 

Sometimes I struggle with the belief that I can do this – that I can fulfill my assignments; that God will continue to look favorably upon me in order to bless others. I suppose many mothers in mid-push say the same things. That they can’t finish or go on. That labor has taken too much out of them. But they find a way. God gives them the strength. They see the hope of seeing their baby for the first time drawing near. Purpose eventually manifests itself and the 1st part of their assignment is over. 

When I think about this simple fact, I’m able to let go. And then, I hear the Holy Spirit speaking to me…

Reminding me that faith without works is dead; that I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.  

In these moments, the pressure is off. His grace is in place. All I have to do is grab hold of it and do the very last thing He told me to do. 

There’s no need to get ahead. No need to worry about what is coming next. 

All I have to do is be obedient –  

I just gotta do it. 

And so, I will.

Worship for Encouragement

Arrival’s not the end game. The journey’s where you are. You never wanted perfect. You just wanted my heart. And the story isn’t over. If the story isn’t good. And failure’s never final. When the Father’s in the room. And failure’s never final. When the Father’s in the room.”