*I hope none of these thoughts appear like heresy. Please feel free to leave comments.*
For the last few days, I’ve been wrestling with a question. It is simply this: if we feel the urging that God wants us to do something specific, and we say no, is that it? Does he still love us, but on the inside he’s a little bit pissed that we resisted his will?
My friend Megan and I had what seemed like a ten minute conversation about this topic the other day, but really it was more like 2 hours. She shared with me some really amazing stories about how she had been praying in her living room one day and suddenly felt this inexplicable need to go driving. So she got in her car, and having no idea where she should go or what she should do, she started following another car just to see where she would end up. Eventually, near an intersection, she drew near a woman walking down the sidewalk with bags of groceries in her hands.
Stop. And give her your Bible. Without hestitation, Megan stopped her vehicle on the side of the road, grabbed her Bible out of the backseat, chased this woman down, and in a hurried breath explained that she was a Christian and she hoped this wouldn’t freak the woman out, but she felt like God was telling her to give her the Bible. At that exact moment, the unknown woman’s grocery bag broke open, spreading groceries on the concrete. Megan grabbed this opportunity to offer the woman a ride home and begin building a relationship with her. Cool, right? It doesn’t end there.
When they arrived at the house, Megan learned that the woman, Trudy, was living with her mother Norma who was in the middle of dying from cancer. They had been practicing all the positive “white-light” strategies they could think of to heal her, but to no avail. To make a long story short, Megan offered that she would be praying for Norma, they exchanged numbers and didn’t see each other for a number of weeks.
Megan struggled to tell the next part. She said that in the following days, she was constantly feeling urged to call Trudy, call Trudy, call Trudy as soon as possible, but some unknown fear held her back. The boldness in her previous actions had left her; she was now plagued with the idea that she had come on too strong, and that right now, they just needed some family time. And yet she knew that every time she said no, she was disobeying the Lord’s spirit in her life.
I believe it was by no mere coincidence that Trudy made contact with Megan soon after that. Trudy and her sisters had noticed that Norma seemed more peaceful after Megan had been introduced to her, and they wanted her to come back to the house and actually pray for her in person. What an opportunity! And this time, Megan took it.
Over the next few weeks, she developed such an interesting relationship with this family. They ceased their “white-light” prayers over their mother, confessed that they believed Jesus was a great man that could be prayed to, but that even though “he wasn’t the only way to be healed, perhaps he’s the right way for our mom.”
Not long after that, Norma passed away. Megan doesn’t know if she had any death-bed conversion, and probably never will. But she does know that whenever she prayed or sang or read the Bible to her, something in Norma’s spirit responded, as drugged as she was. There was a peace that overcame the darkness in the room, and the True Light was having an effect.
When Megan finished telling me, I had tears in my eyes. I knew in my heart that all of this, no matter how brief, had been orchestrated by God.
“But now I feel like I didn’t do enough. Like, if I’d said yes to God the first time he urged me to call them again, perhaps I could have made more of an influence on Norma and Trudy and her sisters. What if she didn’t get saved because I held back?”
“Megan, if I were you, I would struggle with the same thoughts. But because I am sitting in a more objective spot, I can honestly say that I believe that no one, no matter how big of a choice they make, has the absolute power to disrupt and overthrow God’s will. No matter what you say yes or no to, God will not be wringing his hands in the Heavens declaring, ‘If only she had said YES, then this good thing could have happened. Too bad!’ I think you were brought into their lives for that specific time and purpose and if you had tried to pursue anything before they had contacted you, they might not have received your influence so warmly. You may never know the results of your work, but maybe you’re the seed planter. Some day, someone else will come along and water it and so on until it’s harvested. You never know.”
Even as I said this, I felt like my words were lacking a little something. I knew from my own life that I resisted God’s voice telling me to get baptized for over TEN YEARS before I said yes to him. And when I finally did, there was no guilt, no condemnation – just the absolute conviction that now was the time, here was the place and I could not go another day without heeding his call. Even though I had disobeyed him for a decade, it was still the right time for everything to happen the way it did that summer.
And I wonder, why? How can disobeying God be anything but unbeneficial? And then the other day, at work, it came to me.
I was washing the dishes. We have plastic containers that are filled with gravy, cheese sauce, etc. and after they’re warmed up and put in the serving pots, we have to wash and sanitize them. But sometimes, in the cooking, parts of the gravy or cheese will have crusted on in the corners and when I’m washing, I have to get rid of whatever I can right away, then let it soak in the water for awhile, and then come back to it to see if it’s loosened up anymore. Perhaps that’s how it is with God’s voice in our lives. We know there’s something difficult or challenging he wants us to do but we’re not ready to do it yet. He suggests it, and then leaves it for us to think about. He comes back later – are we ready yet? Perhaps not, but a little more resistance has come away with time. More soap, more hot water, more waiting. Are we ready now? No, but we’re closer. And God’s gentle spirit will keep working away at us until we’ve reached the point that we can resist him no longer. In that time of waiting, that time of resistance, we’ve been completely worn down, cleared out, cleaned up and ready to be used. We could say yes to God right away and that wouldn’t be bad either; we just might make more mistakes along the way because we haven’t learned as many lessons yet. But eventually, either way, God gets his man. Just like Elliott Ness.