As the parents of four up and coming millennials, we use the expression, “Delayed obedience is disobedience”, quite often. We feel it is an important lesson to teach early, as a quick response might be the deciding factor in a promotion or raise down the road for our children. The older they get, the trickier it is to navigate those waters with them. As teenagers the discipline moves from an uncomfortable disruption of their lives to an uncomfortable disruption of my life. Taking away the cell phone or the car means that I have now set myself up to be the answering service and the taxi driver. The lack of obedience requires discipline, but the love in our hearts wants to see through eyes of grace and give mercy. (Or maybe it’s that I’m too dog tired to deal with it!) I honestly find myself asking if I am motivated more by the love or the inconvenience. If I am motivated by love, then is it really an inconvenience?
Over the past few months I have tackled the project of writing my first book. It is a devotional about the waiting-places in our lives. To be honest, I felt the nudge of God three years ago to write a book. I was not sure how to begin, so I shrugged off the idea as something I concocted in my own mind. I tucked the idea away and when it would attempt to resurface, I would politely place it back in the recesses of my mind. The idea was persistent in its pursuit to see the light of day.
My mistake was telling those closest to me about the idea. They were unrelenting in their questions about when I would start the book. My answer was always the same. I didn’t know where to begin. I had one sweet friend who grew tired of my whining and sent me a book on how to get started. At that point I knew I had delayed long enough, this blog is the result. The blog became my accountability. I knew I had to obey.
I celebrated my one year anniversary of the blog on April 6, 2016. That is the same week I finished my portion of the book and the proof reading and editing process began. For close to a year I faithfully wrote in the blog, declaring all the while that I was being obedient. Delayed obedience is still disobedience. My instructions were to write a book, not a blog. What had originally been my accountability had now become my crutch.
I had lunch with a wonderful friend earlier this year. She is the type of friend who has a way of speaking to you that pierces past the fluff of most friendships and hits directly into the heart. It had been awhile since we sat together and in the process of catching up she asked me what I was doing for The Kingdom. I told her I was taking care of my family, teaching a couple of Bible studies for our church, and that I had started a blog. She asked why she had not seen it or known about it. I explained about the blog and how it was posted to Facebook or sent via email. She strongly chastised me and said that I was “being selfish with what God had given to me. Myself and millions of others are not on Facebook. Why are you depriving us of the opportunity to read what God gives to you?” I must admit, I was a little hurt by her words.
I tried to defend myself but she wouldn’t hear it. Right then and there, in the middle of the restaurant, she began to pray. After my initial shock that she was loudly declaring, in a public restaurant, the goodness of God, I joined her. I can not fully explain what happened in those moments, but at the end of that prayer I had focus. I had clarity. I had peace. We finished our lunch and walked to our vehicles and before turning to walk to hers, she looked at me and said, “print the blog”. I promised I would.
That afternoon I began the arduos task of copying and pasting every post I had written over those previous NINE months. (No coincidence there!) Ninety-nine printed pages later I wept, as God spoke to my heart and said, “There is your book”. Three months later, a selection of those posts are the foundation for a thirty day devotional. I am praying now about the right path to publication and believing that God will continue to instruct this very green author. It really is His book, I’m simply along for the ride.
The truly amazing part of this story is the healing I received as a result of my obedience. For eight years I have suffered with a condition that so deeply affected me that it reach into every part of my life. The physical symptoms in my body eventually seeped into my emotions and my attitude, both of which highly conflicted with my ability to properly nurture my family. I was a mess. I finished the book and sent it to a dear friend to be edited, then left for a much needed weekend away at a ladies retreat. There was an incredible, almost tangible presence of God during the last morning service. As women from eighteen to eighty worshiped together, God walked into our midst. I heard God whisper to me and say, “Just as you dedicated each of your physical children, give it to Me”. So I did. As Hannah surrendered the idea of Samuel, long before she held him, I surrendered the birthing of the book completely to Him. In that moment I felt something more than peace . . . I felt a calm, stillness overtake me. I didn’t know it yet, but that was the moment of my healing. Back home, and worshiping with my family the next morning, in our church service we experienced a sweet moving of the Holy Spirit. In the quiet of the moment, I heard the whisper again. He simply said, “Because of your obedience, I healed you”.
I am so very grateful! There is no more pain or discomfort, I am healed! I can not help but wonder though, if my delayed obedience caused a delayed healing? Is it possible that if I had not procrastinated in my obedience, would the healing have come sooner. Could my family have been spared additional years of emotional time bombs? I will never know the answer, but perhaps I can save you from the same mistake. Walk everyday in obedience to what He has asked or will ask you to do. Respond quickly to His instruction. Complete every step and do it right, the first time. Don’t let your delayed obedience keep you from experiencing a delayed reward.