Thoughts on Obeying God as a Christian

Hey, y’all! Welcome back to the blog.

Ideally, I would have written this post back in February for my baptism birthday, but since I’m a college student, I’m learning to just go with the flow. I did, however, post on my Instagram story on February 10th, marking three years since I was baptized!

These past three years have brought so much change and it’s been a roller coaster of a ride. However, they’ve also brought so much growth and maturity. I look back at my fourteen-year-old self and marvel at how little I knew, and yet I was exactly where God wanted me to be at that point of my life. 

One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that no matter how much we think we know, there is always more to learn. Especially when it comes to God and the Bible, we will never fully “arrive.” That can be discouraging–looking at how far we have yet to go–but in hindsight, it is one of the most rewarding things. To have started small and built your way up is very satisfying. 

Younger me was terrified of being baptized (having to give my testimony on stage, the whole congregation watching me), but I am so, so glad that I took the plunge (sort of literally) and did it. If there’s anything in your life that God has been asking you to pursue but you’ve felt unsure, or scared, or inadequate, you are not alone. I’ve been there. Actually, I’m still there. But God has taught me some things along the way, and my desire is to share them with you to help you along as well. 

1. We are called to obey where we are

There are several verses that support this:

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8 ESV

God doesn’t require us to have our act together before we start following Him! He loves us while we are still sinners, disobedience and all. He desires that we come to Him as we are. I think this is so important to remember when we are struggling to obey, because at least for me personally, I tend to want to run away from God when I think I’m letting Him down. But no, God desires us to run toward Him. We need His strength to help us.

For who scorns the day of small things? These seven eyes of the Lord, which scan throughout the whole earth, will rejoice when they see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.

Zechariah 4:10 HCSB (see also preceding verses)

The historical context of Zechariah is that the Jews are returning from exile and the city lies in ruins.  As I was researching for this post (which somehow resulted in articles on Jewish cemeteries??), I read an introduction to Zechariah and realized it was a relatable parallel–how often do we find ourselves disobeying God, He lovingly allows consequences (e.g. exile), and then when we’re ready to return to Him we find a mess and don’t know how/where to pick things back up? It can be quite discouraging.

However, God is encouraging His people not to despise the day of small beginnings. The foundation has been laid, and our hands will complete it. “‘Not by strength or by might, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of Hosts” (4:6b).  If we run toward God and allow His Spirit to help us rebuild, we will rejoice when we see “mountains become plains” and when the “capstone” is laid. Or, in other words: He makes a way where there is no way and by the grace of God we will find ourselves on the flip side of our difficult tasks. 

Therefore, all who are mature should think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this also to you. In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained.

Philippians 3:15-16

Paul is saying here it’s okay to not have “arrived” yet. It’s okay to have a growth mindset–in fact, that’s how mature people think. Mature people are not those who have it all together, but rather those who keep pressing forward! We ought to keep putting the past behind us and keep moving forward after Jesus. It’s okay to live up to whatever truths we have attained thus far in our journey–we don’t have to know it all or be doing it all right now. One step at a time.

2. Saying yes gets easier

This is something I’ve started to realize more recently: saying yes gets easier each time I say yes. When I said yes to getting baptized, it was SO hard. It took a lot of difficult surrender and difficult faith. But then a couple months later when an opportunity came up, I was more willing to say yes. Not completely willing, but more so than before. And when my next assignment from God came, I was even more willing than before. And on and on. It’s a progression.

For me personally, that initial yes was the hardest one. But now? God says kneel in chapel…I say yes. God says go to counseling… I say yes. God says get involved in a YA group at church…I say yes. There’s absolutely still moments of delay and/or doubt, but I’ve grown enough to trust God that when He says go, it’s for my good. I’m not always willing right away, but I’m willing to be made willing. And I know that God acknowledges that. He is patient with us.

Sooner or later we have to just take the plunge and go for it. Sometimes we need to stop praying for boldness and just do it afraid.

3. Jonah always goes to Nineveh

God has called each and every one of us for a specific purpose. We are here for a reason, and no one can take that from us. It is ours. 

If we, like Jonah, refuse to go to our “Nineveh”–the place where God has called us–it’s only by God’s grace that He doesn’t give up on us on the spot and move on to the next person. He’s a God of second chances. And third, and fourth, and seventy-times-sevenths.

When I find myself faced with a difficult task, I’m often reminded of the phrase “Jonah always goes to Nineveh.” I can run all I want, but I’m guaranteed to end up miserable if I board a ship to Tarshish. Tarshish is not what I was made for. I was made for Nineveh and Nineveh is the only place I will feel satisfaction in my work.

If Jesus has called you to serve in a specific capacity, you’ll never be happy–you’ll never be successful–doing anything else.

Through the Word audio guide on John 21

At the end of church camp a few years ago, there was a girl who gave her testimony, and her words still come back to me sometimes. To paraphrase: if we always end up at the feet of Jesus, why don’t we just save ourselves the heartache and go there to begin with? A powerful statement from someone who had reached the end of her rope and realized that avoiding God solves nothing.

That’s something I’ve unfortunately learned firsthand–problems that we ignore do not just disappear. The only way to fix them is to first acknowledge them, and then to act on them. 

We cannot ignore God’s leading and simultaneously be sensitive to the Holy Spirit; our conscience will destroy us from the inside out and we will be miserable.  

Jonah always goes to Nineveh. 

But, you know what? When we obey, God chooses to do great and mighty things through us. Cities repent and get saved; nations are led out of bondage; armies are destroyed; walls come crashing down. Nothing is impossible with our God.

~~~

What are y’all’s thoughts on this? Do you have any encouraging experiences that you’d like to share? The comments down below are open and so is my inbox: cocoashley@cocoschitchat.com.

Excelsior, Ambassadors!

4 thoughts on “Thoughts on Obeying God as a Christian

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