Courage and Obedience

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This is probably going to be one of the most honest blog posts I have ever written. The Lord has had me one a journey for 2 years now. Honestly, I still have no idea as to how all of this is going to play out over the next several years. It’s weird to be on the downhill slide to 40 and asking the Lord where I’m headed. I feel like I should be in the middle of my calling at this point, but feel like He is getting ready to write a whole new chapter for me.

The last 2 weeks our pastor has continued to preach out of Acts and has talked about stepping up to serve as well as courage. Last week Pastor Mark gave reasons as to why people won’t serve. These include “not feeling led,” “not having time” and “not wanting to take away from family.” This week, he talked about the courage of Paul and how Paul knew what was coming and was willing to go for the sake of The Gospel anyway.

As I have chewed on these sermons and looked at where I have been the past 2 years, I can’t help but think about other reasons why people don’t serve and why I am still sitting where I am. Yes, I have been actively involved in dance ministry, worship choir and Summer Jam. I have also been serving in a contract position as the Family Assistance Coordinator with responsibilities in our automotive ministry. If you asked me, I would tell you that when it comes to ministry I am doing what I need to do. Sadly, it’s not the truth.

4 years ago, this month, when my husband and I walked into The Glade Church we were church hurt and had walked through crises in 2 other churches. We were over the whole church thing. We knew our kids needed to be involved in a solid theological, evangelical church. We knew we needed to be surrounded by a solid body of believers, but didn’t necessarily think we could find a church we could trust. The Lord only brought us to one service at The Glade and we felt at home. It was scary, but we trusted. We needed time to heal. Up until the beginning of this year, I would have said I was completely over the hurt of our experiences. It’s funny how the Lord uses circumstances and conversations to show you that your aren’t really where you thought you were.

I acknowledge I have a wall around me, but didn’t realize how high and reinforced that wall was until late February, early March. When talking with one of the pastors on our staff about situation, I was hit with a startling reality. People at our church, even the staff around me, don’t know me at all and it’s all because I have refused to let anyone in. While I have been involved, I haven’t been serving with my whole heart. I have only been serving in partial obedience. I realized that I have an entire set of talents and skill sets that our staff and others at church have no idea even exist. I have kept my relationships at church on an extremely shallow level because it’s been the safe route to take.

Obedience. I am the Major’s Daughter. I know what it’s like to be the daughter of a soldier. I know the importance of receiving marching orders and then following them without question or hesitation. While I have always said I don’t care what others think about me, I realize my drive to be the “good girl” and “do as I’m told” comes from a desire to please those around me, but it’s not necessarily been to please the Lord even though I have acted as it has.

Around the time I graduated from college, I knew the Lord was calling me to eventually write a book. He called me seminary to prepare for ministry. While I was still working as a full time school based therapist, I knew the Lord was calling me to women’s ministry. I have only completed about 2 chapters in the book and am honestly terrified to keep on writing because I don’t know how it will be received. I am still waiting for direction on women’s ministry. I know that on the women’s ministry front I have not been completely obedient, but am earnestly seeking His face for direction.

Last summer, I knew the Lord was calling me to teach a ladies Connect Group on Sunday mornings and I gave the Lord every excuse under the sun as to why I couldn’t do it. In the past I have taught little ones through high school, but never adults. Yes, I have taught at conferences, but never taught adults on a regular basis. While I was never overly rebellious growing up, I did have my moments. My past doesn’t necessarily look how I think it should and have struggled with wondering why anyone would think I was qualified to lead in that area. I love singing in choir, but used it as a reason as to why I couldn’t step out during the first service and serve. This past spring there was a string of events and the Lord used those events to kick my tail. I said I would start teaching in May and ended up putting it off until the first Sunday of August. Yes, I am teaching class out of obedience, but it was delayed obedience and I’m not proud of that fact.

While I think Pastor Mark hit the nail on the head with some of the reasons why people don’t serve, I think there is also a different set of reasons why people won’t/ don’t serve. While he was talking about the courage of Paul this morning, I couldn’t help but think about how many of us sit silent because we lack the courage and confidence to serve. We don’t sit on the sidelines because we don’t desire to serve, or lack of calling. We sit on the sidelines because we lack the courage of Paul. We lack confidence. Too many of us sit sidelined due to fear, guilt and shame. We don’t think we have much to offer. We also sit sidelined because to get up and serve means to be authentic and vulnerable to others.

Where do I go from here? I have a document sitting on the Google drive at my computer at the church that needs to be turned into one of the pastors. I need to faithfully continue to teach the Connect Group I committed to teach. I need to continue writing the book the Lord has laid on my heart. I also need to pray the Lord would remove the fear I have struggled with over the past several years and move forward in confidence.

The verse that jumped out to me this morning and one I underlined in my Bible was Acts 23:11 which says:

“The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

“Take courage!” Yes, courage. This means to put aside fear and walk boldly in what the Lord has called you and I to do. This means not worrying about our past or what others may think, but rely on the Lord and only the Lord. HE is the sole source of our confidence. Once we embrace the confidence that can only come from the Lord, we can then walk boldly in obedience. It may not always be easy, but we can know with no uncertainty that we are being 100% obedient and that is all He asks of us.

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