What I Learned About Obedience…from an Accidental Email

A few days ago, I re-read the account in Exodus 16 of the Israelites receiving manna in the desert. Moses had just led his people, through the power of God, out of bondage in Egypt. God promised the Israelites their own land and He was leading them to it.  But along the way, as people tend to do, they seemed to forget how much God had already done on their behalf and decided that – in this transitional journey – they were bound to starve to death.

God assured Moses that this would not happen. Instead, He said “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions…” (Exodus 16:4)

It seems, to me, that God is building a relationship with His people. He has shown who He is – the Great I Am – and now He is teaching the Israelites how to obey Him. In the end, I believe that true and heart-felt obedience is based on trust…and God wanted His people, then and now, to know Him and to trust Him with their lives.

He proved Himself.  Manna daily satisfied the needs of those who listened and acted in obedience to His words. In fact, God’s day-by-day bread sustained the Israelites for the forty years that it took to reach the Promised Land.

They couldn’t gather extra, except to prepare for the Sabbath day. They couldn’t choose where the bread would fall or control any part of the bread-making or the bread-flavor or the bread-timing.

They had to simply trust that each new morning would bring what was most vital and most needed for their lives. They could go to bed each night in peace and hope for the future because their God was faithful and good.

I needed the reminder.

I’m kind of in a transitional season. I just turned thirty, which feels like standing on the edge of a diving board over the deepest part of the pool (some people like that feeling. I do not care for it!). My oldest kid is going into his last elementary school year and my youngest is going into kindergarten. My middle child is going to a brand new school, to which the others may follow him next year…and there’s a few other things in the mix that are day-by-day trips into uncertain destinations.

There’s a lot of new. A lot of unknowns going on.

So the manna-story showed up with good timing. Because it made me remember that, even when all we can see is the very next step, the bread falling on this morning, we can trust that God will give exactly what we need to get through until tomorrow.  And when tomorrow comes, He is faithful and good to provide for the new day – even if we can’t see how He will work or what He will do.

I have kept this close to my heart and every time I feel nervous about the coming weeks and all the changes at hand, I think of the Israelites gathering manna from a faithful God. I think of Jesus saying that we should not worry.  And, to top it all off, the message at church this past Sunday was about Peter putting his eyes on Jesus and walking on water away from the safety of a boat. The speaker reminded us that we must ‘let go of the rail’ and walk a Spirit-led life of trust in Jesus…because, in His power and in His love, we are secure.

I was overwhelmed with the love of God…once again, He was reassuring me. He was letting me know that, no matter the uncertainty – no matter whether we are in the desert, the dark ocean waves, or a plain Monday morning with a car full of kids on the way to school – He is taking care of us. We can trust Him to give what we need, when we need it. We trust Him and we obey…so we walk into the unknown with faith-steps. We do not have to fear, we do not have to worry. We just have to hold His hand and put one foot in front of the other.

These faith-steps include what I write on this blog. Because I am a planner…a researcher, a take-months-to-write-a-draft kind of writer. And sometimes, sure, that’s okay. Sometimes a subject takes careful consideration and prayer. Sometimes a second pair of eyes and edits are necessary to make things the best they can be for God’s glory. I do believe that we should study and show ourselves approved, making sure we rightly divide God’s Word. (2 Tim. 2:15)  Wisdom sometimes calls for preparation, for listening and waiting on God’s timing.

But on the other hand…sometimes dragging my feet to hit that publish button is a matter of wanting things to sound a certain way for my own preferences….which makes it about my ‘brain’ and not about His Word. Sometimes procrastination is my default mode. Sometimes fear of things not being good enough keeps me from doing anything at all. Sometimes I think that writing a few sentences isn’t smart enough or helpful enough.

Bottom line?

Sometimes I make it alllllll about me and not about Him.

So I had a talk with Jesus about all of this.  I felt, clearly, that – for this particular season – I need to show up and sit down at this keyboard without my own plan…I need to trust Him to lead. I need to wake up with an empty basket, knowing He will fill it. I need to ‘let go of the rail’ like Peter.

I need to trust that His Word is always, always more than enough and His Word only can bring life and hope. I am blessed, beyond what I can comprehend, to ever be a part of delivering this Bread of Life to others…and so I must obey and trust Him in how to deliver His good news.

So all of these things were in my thoughts this morning, after I returned from a 5:45 am trip to finish getting school supplies for my middle child. I had a few extra minutes before I needed to sound the wake-up calls and it occurred to me that I could sit down and blog about the manna and about Peter’s wave-walking. For everyone facing a new season, new school, new life-matters, I could share the hope of step-by-step obedience and trust into the unknown.

I considered it, felt like I should definitely write it all out, but I also wanted a bowl of oatmeal. And how could I really get anything written in such a short amount of time, anyway? I decided to write later, when I could really take the time to focus. Basically, I said – yes, God, I will write it. But not now.

So I made oatmeal, flipped through my blog reader, and read a little more of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer biography I’ve been toting around.

With my last bite of breakfast, it was time to turn on more lights and get everyone going for the day.

I picked up my phone and checked my email as I walked away from the kitchen.

Lo and behold, there was an email from…my blog?

I froze. For a strange and surreal second, I second-guessed myself. I hadn’t written that post, right?

Reality – and then panic – set in.

How could I have accidentally posted something? I hadn’t even opened the blogging site!

I clicked the email, worried that I’d been hacked and something dreadful had been sent out.

Instead, this was the title I saw: Preparing For The Unknown.

Somehow, without even realizing it…without even seeing this post from the Christian Blessings site as I flipped through the blog reader, I’d re-blogged someone’s post. Someone’s post which was written on exactly the same subject I’d felt compelled to write this morning…the same subject and kind of post I’d decided to postpone until later.

And I felt like God said, very quietly and kindly – “Now do you get it?”

It isn’t about what I think I have time to do. It isn’t about my limitations. It isn’t about my mood.

It’s about Him. His power, His glory, His purpose.

It’s about His Word and it’s about His people.

If there is someone who needs to hear encouragement from His Word, He is going to make sure that the Word is delivered to them…whether or not I get to be a part of that process is my choice. It was my choice to miss the blessing of being obedient to my Father this morning. It was my choice to choose myself instead of choosing Him.

If I were an Israelite this morning, I would have been the one to go out with my empty basket. I would have seen the manna on the ground…and I would have stood still, not gathering any. I would have gone back into my tent, basket still empty.

I would have missed the blessing that He was willing to provide.

He wants to give to us. He wants to guide us, day by day…and He will…because He loves us. Because He is faithful.

Yet – we can still worry, we can still cling to the rail, we can still go hungry for His presence because we choose that option. It’s about obedience…stepping out in faith when and how He tells us to move. It’s about trust.

I choose whether or not I follow the Spirit’s leading when He beckons.

In our lives, we walk in joy and peace when we follow Him. He works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28)…He provides His own strength as we take each step. He never leaves us alone.

And guess what? Your life – walked by faith-steps – is a testimony to everyone around you. When we trust in the faithfulness of God, our joy shows who He is to a world that needs Him…our peace points to the Savior, our all-sufficient portion in this life and the next.

When it comes to the specific opportunity to serve in His name? Those chances won’t always be lost when we drag our feet, but sometimes we are called for such a time as this…not later today, not tomorrow, not next year. Now. He has a plan and He uses willing servants to build His kingdom.

And since it’s not about us, but about His glory and His love reaching out to this world, we have to understand that our indecision and procrastination does not only affect us. It affects those people who need whatever He wants to use us to give.

We may not always say or do things perfectly…but we can always trust that, in His perfect love, He uses our imperfections. If we are acting in obedience and love for Him, He can handle the rest.

What can we say but thank You?

So here’s the end-point to this mish-mash of thoughts. Don’t be afraid of tomorrow. Don’t worry about the unknown. He goes before us and with us. Trust Him and obey Him…He will provide. He will sustain us and He will bless us so that we can stand witness to His love and to His (always) amazing grace.

“Know this: God, your God, is God indeed, a God you can depend upon. He keeps his covenant of loyal love with those who love him and observe his commandments for a thousand generations.”  (from Deut.7)

“Trust Me in your times of trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give Me glory.” -Psalm 50:15

 
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