Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Insanity of Obedience

We’re not even the Duggers and we get stares.

Whether our family of nine is strolling down a WalMart aisle, eating an incredibly nutritious McDonald’s meal, or piling into church, folks stare at us like we had just jumped the Grand Canyon on bicycles.  

Is it so unbelievable these days to have seven children, four of which were rescued out of horrendous orphanages?

In a very graceful way, I encourage people to not see us as “special,” but as obedient.  There was a time in my life when I didn’t want to ask God to challenge me with “impossible” things, because then I’d have to be obedient.  I can laugh at that now, but don’t we do that?  We get comfortable with our level of “surrender” and we dare not ask for more.  We, ourselves, determine how much we can handle, rather than ask God to go overboard with us if He wants to, knowing that He won’t give us anything that we can’t handle.

In a way, we are all hedonists.  Historically, hedonists weren’t really pursuing pleasure at any cost.  Their mission in life was to avoid pain and discomfort.

God wants us to get out of our comfort zone as a lifestyle.  We hear that phrase a lot, huh?  “Get out of your comfort zone, Christian!”  Every single day of our lives, during each moment that we “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28), we must continually say “not my will, Lord, but yours.”  We must tell him to tell us what He wants to do in us and through us.

Often, we get comfortable knowing that we have an assurance of our calling in this life.  We get so complacent in that assurance, in fact, that we make that calling a kind of status quo.  We don’t think (or want to think) that the Holy Spirit, at any minute, may want us to change direction in that calling or add to it or change it in some way. 

“This is how God made me, and dadgummit, that’s how I’m a’ gonna stay!”

You know, sometimes it’s even innocent.  Sometimes we just don’t know better.  We don’t know how we should relate to God, so we just carry on doing what we’ve been doing for years, perhaps.  There’s certainly minimal pain in that.  What a bonus! 

I have had to fight this religious demon of complacency in a profound way in my own life.  And trust me, I have not arrived!  Sometimes I’m AFRAID to ask the Father to use me as a ship’s helm, to let His hand touch me to steer our big family and calling.  It is not always easy.  Nor is it always fun.

Still, God’s grace is there.  He loves us just the same, but oh, how much more we can step into a spiritually explosive destiny just by asking for more!   But there’s that “thing,” though.  What if I ask for more and He gives it me?  And it’s painful!

What if, by asking God to give me more, our finances are placed in jeopardy?  What if He asks us to dress in black and move to Iran?  What if—oh, Lord forbid!—He asks us to adopt an orphan or two or three or four?  There’s goes our life.  Well, uh, yeah, exactly!

I was ministering to someone the other day and mocking a catchphrase that’s very popular right now.  If you ask someone how they’re doing, they might respond, “Just livin’ the dream, baby!  Just livin’ the dream.”

But just listen to what the apostle Paul says his life experience was like:

            I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.  Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.  I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.  Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.   

~2 Cor. 11:23-28

            I wonder if Paul were asked how he was doing if he would say, “Just livin’ the dream, baby!  Just livin’ the dream.”  You know what, he probably would!  But his perception of “the dream” is radically different from mine often.

            The closer I get to calling hospice care for myself some day, the more I realize how little my own life matters to me.  What I am trying to “save” is really nothing, in the scheme of things.

            I had mentioned to the congregation in Illinois a message I preached in a church in Mozambique once.  It was about “perspective.”

            If you take every grain of sand on the face of the earth, the moon, and all of the planets in our universe with sand.  That sand represents eternity. 

            Now pick up one grain of sand.  That represents my life.  And I’m trying to “save” that because…?

Putty.  That’s all we are.  We’re not special people in the least!

People may look at us like we’re crazy, but at the end of the day, we want to put our heads on our pillows knowing that we pleased the Lord in obeying whatever He would have us to do, regardless of what others think.  And sometimes those “others” include those whom we love the most.

One thing we’ve learned is that obedience is not only doing what we know God is telling us to do, but asking Him to do whatever He wants in us, even if it makes little or no sense to us or others. 

If God wants that, then I want to throw away my life for myself and give it to our amazingly loving and all-powerful Lord and Savior.  PLEASE join me in that quest.  You’ll never be the same, and you’ll never look back.


  1. Thank you for this, Anthony! I have been reading you and Adeye for awhile and am so encouraged by your journey. You are a wonderful example and have encouraged me to pursue adoption for our family when the time comes.

  2. A fit word for me today. Thanks.

  3. Thank you for posting... I'm at a loss for words, but I needed to read this!


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