Listening – and obeying

I have long struggled with obeying God unconditionally. I am afraid of what he might ask me to do – or to give up.

So, I compromise. I choose what to obey.

Yet I yearn to be involved in God’s great adventures. But I find that I must obey if I am to embark on these adventures.

I think of Moses’ talk with God at the burning bush in Exodus 3. God speaks from the bush, telling Moses to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt.

Moses replies exactly the way I would, protesting that he can’t stand up to Pharaoh and he can’t speak well. It could have ended there with God leaving Moses. But, instead, the Lord deals with Moses’ fears and promises help.

Even with that, I might have run away. But Moses made a crucial decision to obey. His obedience changed history.

I am not saying that every time we obey God, the result will be world-changing. But it will change us and, ultimately, affect others.

I am reading right now a fascinating book on evangelism – Beyond Awkward by Beau Crosetto. Crosetto is a California staff member of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, a campus Christian organization.

The title of his book speaks to the awkwardness Christians feel when talking about Jesus in our rational society which does not believe in the supernatural. He urges his readers to go beyond that awkward feeling and find the joy of being part of God’s work in the lives of others.

One of his key messages is listening to the Holy Spirit – and obeying. He is constantly asking God what he wants him to do – and to say. He has learned that when he obeys, good things happen.

Of course, Crosetto wisely cautions readers to soak themselves in the scriptures so that they can distinguish God’s voice from their own. He adds that, like anything else, we learn best by doing. As we gain experience, we come to know the Spirit’s voice better and better.

He acknowledges that he has made mistakes. But his book is sprinkled with stories of strange promptings from the Spirit which have led to wonderful conversations with unlikely people – many of them life-changing.

Can you imagine anything stranger than God tapping a shepherd in the wilderness to lead a million slaves out of Egypt? It certainly seemed strange to Moses. But he listened and obeyed.

The Bible is clear about obedience. The prophet Samuel told King Saul in 1 Samuel 15 that God sees obedience as far more important than the ritual sacrifices which were considered sacred by the Israelites.

Even as I wrestle with obedience, I’m excited as I think about what God can do with those who obey – including me.


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