This if from my very good friend Patrick... I really feel like this is huge and I wanted to share what he has to say, I hope it blesses you like it blessed me... Meaning I hope it touches your heart and resonates deep inside of you as something amazing, true, and gives you hope regardless of what you're feeling right now...
Well, the last month and a half has been a crazy roller coaster. God has called me to do somethings that I did not, and still do not fully understand. Major things...things that I had held onto as HUGE deals for a long time and had significant value and importance to me. Over this time frame, I have been to the lowest points in my life that I have seen in 12 years. Throughout all this, I have been down the roads of feeling jaded, angry, and mistreated by God. I felt like I was excluded from seeing anything about my life...no direction, no confirmation, nothing but emptiness. No matter what I did or prayed, I felt like I was getting no response and not allowed to make any decisions...just sitting there frustrated because those significantly important things seemed to have been cast out on the ground to be trampled down. I sat in a place I called indecision long enough for me to not care about which direction things went in, but just a desire to GO. The great part about all this is no matter how much I yelled and vented to God about my frustration with Him and my circumstances, He kept bringing me to points where I could catch little glimpses that there was a greater plan. Then...last week, when I got to one of my greatest points of frustration, God connected a whole bunch of dots at once. It was in that moment that I finally found myself content with my position and calling, when my circumstances have not changed any.
Over nearly the last two years, I have been studying in depth the following Old Testament books: Ezekiel (11 months), Hosea (3+ months), Micah (1.5+ months), and Isaiah (currently 4.5 months into the book...and about another 10.5 months to go). Those of you who have studied these books probably just cringed. To those who did not, here is a glimpse of what is found in these books:
Ezekiel may take the cake...no pun intended...for being the prophet called to do the most amount of crazy and ridiculous things for the sake of God making a point to His people. For example, in Ezekiel 4:4-17, God tells Ezekiel to lay down in front of a brick that he had written the name "Jerusalem" on for every year of the house of Israel guilt....one day per year...390 days total...on his left side. Then, God told him that when that was over, he was to do the same for Judah...one day per year...40 days total...on his right side. Did I mention this is supposed to be done in public? What I did not mention was that Ezekiel wasn't supposed to get up for lunch and dinner breaks...no, no...God told him that he had to bake bread to eat for the whole duration while he laid on his side...over an open fire...fueled with human poop....yes, a poop fire for baking bread that he was going to eat for all those days. What does Ezekiel do? He complains to God about not wanting to defile himself using human poop to cook with, so God gives him an alternate route...he can use cow poop instead. And so Ezekiel carried out God's commands in obedience. That's only one of the crazy things that God called Ezekiel to do.
Well, if you have heard of Hosea, you probably know a little about the crazy things God called him to do. In fact, the first time God speaks to Hosea...He tells him to go marry a prostitute...oh, yeah, and start a family with her (Hosea 1:2-3). God didn't waste time buttering him up first. He got right to the point. By the way, it wasn't like God completely removed Gomer, the prostitute that Hosea went out and married, from prostitution....no, no...she returned to her life of prostitution after a while leaving her kids and husband behind. So much for that family, right? WRONG! God then tells Hosea to go buy your wife back...pay the price of her services and get her back and love her....without having sex (Hosea 3:1-3). God called Hosea to pay her as she would be paid for sexual services, but not to have sex with her...to love her as a husband loves his wife...apart from the sexual side of things. The rest of the book doesn't mention Gomer ever returning to a life of prostitution after that. Kind of makes you wonder if Gomer got the point that she is loved and not because of what she does for people, but because of who she is....Hosea's bride...let your mind run on that for a bit.
Isaiah is no less of a companion to these guys. One instance in particular, God called Isaiah to drop His pants and shoes...to walk around butt naked....for THREE years...to make a statement concerning a people group who were not even Israel (Isaiah 20:2-4). Can you imagine that??
So...remember all that complaining I did about what God told me to do in obedience to Him? Yeah, about that...when God brought to mind the prophets that I had been studying, I not only realized that I had nothing to complain about, but I also realized that God had been prepping me for this throughout that time. God called these prophets to an extreme level of obedience, but God has never been one for asking someone to do something that He isn't willing to do Himself. We don't often think of God learning anything....well, because God is omniscient...but when you are God you have no one to be obedient to. But part of becoming 100% man and still being 100% God means that things need to be learned. This is what the author of Hebrews tells us about what Jesus learned: "Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered" (5:8, NASB). What level of obedience did Jesus learn? "Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:8, NASB). God may have told Ezekiel to lay on his side for the iniquity of Israel, but He never called him to die for the sins of the world. Jesus is the ultimate example of extreme obedience. All of these individuals were obedient...and their obedience came at a great cost to themselves...at the price of ridicule, physical beatings, questioned sanity, decency, and lifelong commitments to the seemingly unlovable. Their legacy has long out lived their time here on Earth. While their cost was great, their impact is still being made today. Their suffering has resulted in hope for many who followed after them. This brings me to the last of the books I mentioned in the beginning:
While Micah wasn't exactly one who fits into the ranks of the list above, his message is one of hope nonetheless. The words found in this book are the nudge of hope that God brought along my path to remind me of why extreme obedience is worth it.
"But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD;
I will wait for the God of my salvation
My God will hear me.
Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy
Though I fall I will rise;
Though I dwell in darkness, the LORD is a light for me" (Micah 7:7-8, NASB).
Whatever obedience to God has cost me, I know that I am called to watch and pray. I know that God is not done with me yet. I know that I am watching because there will be something to see...something great to watch God do.
Thanks for reading.
My response to him:
This is great! I just keep thinking how insane it is and how incredibly humbling it would be to be THAT obedient to God... I think I have a long way to go still.. sheesh...
The story of Hosea is so vivid for me I think be cause I read "Redeeming Love" which is basically Hosea's story re-told in a western like setting.. It takes his story and puts ... Read Morethoughts and feelings behind the obedience. It was a great way to depict that the feelings were visceral, real, and more powerful than we often give credit to when looking at people in the Bible and their suffering...
They were obedient despite their feelings.. and that doesn't mean that they didn't seriously struggle, it just means they saw God and his plan as more important than how they felt. They were able to see the bigger picture or at the very least know their God was so much bigger and His plan was so much more important than them and their feelings.
I want that kind of witness.. I want that kind of love.. I want that kind of faith.. I want to Love people for Jesus even when I don't get it. Even when I don't see where I'm going, I want my belief that my God is bigger to be the prevailing thought and feeling.
Whoa that's a big statement.. I pray God helps me (and you) daily to remember that.... Read More
Great thoughts and I'm so incredibly proud of you... You know that though :).. Thanks for writing.. ;)
My thoughts for you:
Please re-read this as many times as you need.. if you have questions I'd love to connect you to Patrick to chat some more about this topic. Please, please, please take a moment and let this resonate inside of you. Ok, the end :)