A few weeks ago, I was praying about some very specific things. This was intercession for several people and situations and also specifically for someone whose life is obviously facing several challenges. It is one of those times when you cant help but to be empathetic when you see someone hurting, but what became clear the more I prayed about it was that this person was dealing with their own disobedience.
We have all been there. Anyone who claims perfection makes me skeptical to put it kindly. I know that I have at many times walked in my own stubborn way concerning some situations in my own life. But as my faith has increased, I have learned that it is much better to just learn to practice patience than to have to figure out how to correct unnecessary mistakes. In the end, I have learned to just remind myself that I trust God.
So I sat with the concept for a few days, trying to decide if I was supposed to say something to the person or to just continue to pray. Galatians 5:18 kept coming to my mind. I kept reading the whole chapter and trying to figure out how to have a conversation about what was going on in the natural versus what was going on in the spiritual. Way to often do we respond to spiritual things in the natural. Using one's cognitive abilities must come by wisdom to know the difference. I would like to spend some time talking about discernment, but I think that will happen another time. But for now, I will just say that we have to learn to follow our discernment, it is God showing us what we are responding to and how to best respond.
The conclusion that came to was that this person already knows that they are being disobedient, because it is written into the fact of being disobedient. A person has to be given instruction and be intentional about doing something else for it to classify as disobedience. It is the complete opposite of to obey. There is a complete difference in doing something wrong and not knowing that it was wrong, or not knowing what should be done. But once you have been told what to do and act with intention and purposefully calculate how to do otherwise, that is clearly disobedience.
Being analytical, I began to think about the reasons that a Christian would be disobedient to God. At the top of the list was fear. Doubting God's provision is what causes the fear. When a person becomes fearful of their needs not being met, they respond with their survival instincts and not their faith. Many times, this survival instinct is why we respond based on the facts in the natural instead of the spiritual. The bible is full of warnings about the flesh because the body is a strong guide, if we don't remain intentional about keeping our intentions on doing things according to God's design. Instinct and flesh encourages one to do things in a way that will produce a right now solution, even if it doesn't guarantee longevity or vitality to one's life. The deception is in thinking that we can do more for ourselves than God can do for us. In actuality, God wants to give us much more than we can image possible. It is the limitations of our human minds that cant see all that God wants to give us. So instead of reaching for what we cant even imagine from the hand of God, we go after what we can see and get for ourselves.
Wanting a solution right now, and an easy solution is basically attempting to outsmart God. This never turns out to be the easiest way to go about things, but the flaws of humanity seem to make this appealing. It takes a few bumps in the road of life to see that God's way is going to be the best way to face any situation in life. Because it is much better to face challenges with God on our side, than to know that we have been in opposition to the very thing that God has instructed us to focus on in life.
For the Christian who is attempting to remain in their disobedience, this is when they want prayer and encouragement from other Christians, all at the same time, knowing that in their heart they have not decided to change directions or the intent of their actions. But instead want other to ask God on their behalf that God bless their disobedience. It doesn't work like that!
And most amazingly, it is usually the very people that warned the person in the beginning not to be disobedient, that they return to asking to pray for them in the midst of what they are dealing with, as if they have forgotten what they were already told. They had received plenty of warning, because God is not going to see a person going the wrong way without giving one some guidance in how to do things differently and get yourself out of the situation before it draws you in. God is direct and not going to leave you with unsolvable riddles about the plans God has for your life.
Stubborn is the best way to describe the response to the warnings that came long before the trouble. The thing is that trouble never actually seems to be a problem in the beginning. If it wasn't appealing then it would not be a temptation. The need to rationalize why the temptation is not that bad is just a way to justify doing what one wants to do. Of course in the beginning the situation seemed manageable, and of course listening to those who love you enough to warn you was not the option taken, but instead mashing the gas and moving full speed ahead to prove that it could be done your way. But in the midst of doing it your way, is where you find compassion from those who loved you enough to tell you the truth and warn you in the beginning. They cant stop the situation, but they can pray and stand on God's Word. We, Christians, want to see our wounded healed and made whole by the Power of God.
Christians who are true to their faith will always speak in terms of God's instructions. The Word of God applies to the Christian and to the sinner, to ALL. To the world this seems to lack love, but in truth it is the most loving thing that can be done. I will admit that there are those who seem to be so harsh in their expression that others don't see the love, but most Christians are not telling you about God's instructions without knowing that they work because of their own challenges in life where God has proven to be the best solution to any problem or circumstance. Every Christian knows what it is like to repent, to have to ask God for forgiveness and to begin the journey back to where God's instruction and provision are for one's life.
I can't help but think about my own childhood. When I was young we took regular vacations to the beach. Back then, swimming in the ocean did not include a lot of concern for shark attacks and we would swim out into the water much farther than we could stand up. As a matter of fact, I can remember plenty of times swimming out so far that I would have to wait for the waves to see how far I actually was from the shore. When I realized that I was too far from shore, I would begin to swim back towards safety. I would swim out so far, because my Daddy and my uncles were also in the water, and I knew that they would come help me if I got in trouble. But they also let me swim out so far, because they knew that I was a strong swimmer. My ability allowed me to do what many of my other relatives could not do, go out into deeper waters. But even then I had to know when it was time to turn around and return to safety.
For the person who is being disobedient to God, they are out in the deep on their own. Once so far out into the deep and away from safety, the decision has to be made whether to continue going further away from safety, or whether to turn around and begin to return as fast as possible back to where there is help and support to getting back in the Will of God.
Run towards obedience.