“Not again, Lord,” I heard myself saying to Him. “Maybe it’s ‘love’. Yes, that’s it — love is the word. We all need to learn to love like You do, Right? I definitely could use some work in that area. That’s got to be the word. LOVE.”
“But…I already know about obedience, God. Remember? You said to move to Texas and we moved to Texas. We heard and we obeyed and it’s beautiful. End of story. Besides, LOVE is everlasting and there’s so much depth to love. And obedience is boring. So..I’ll study love for 2015 and….”
“Well…OK. But why….”
You know why, Anna.
I did know why. I knew exactly why. I had picked up a Bible reading plan called “One Word.” The plan was a simple enough: A four day devotional where you nail down just “One Word” from God for the entire year. Not a phrase or even a verse, but a word. I didn’t even have to read past the first couple of sentences in the devotional before I heard the word. It was clear and it was strong. And it was obedience. And I DID know why…
I had been ignoring God in a certain area of my life. An area where I thought I had gained a newfound freedom: Drinking.
Now, before you start getting all, “There’s no law against drinking… and Jesus drank wine — He even made wine….and Paul told Timothy to drink wine,” etc., etc. — LET ME CLARIFY. You’re right. I agree. There is nothing wrong with drinking. And this story is NOT about drinking. It’s a story about obedience. So take this story and insert whatever you know you’re supposed to be obedient about.
A few years ago, the first season of the hit show “Scandal” had closed out and the second season was well under way. Everyone at work and several of my friends were constantly like, “Ohhh… mah…gosh. Did you watch Scandal last night!!? EEEEEEEEEeeeee!!!!!” And as they jumped up and down and piano tapped their fingers together and squealed in high pitched voices and then spoke in hushed whispers and then screeched back again to high pitched voices, I was sooo in the dark. And since I abhor being left out, of course I went home and downloaded the first season. It. Was. AMAZING. I sat on my bed and devoured hour after hour of juicy wonderfulness. I bonded with Olivia and vowed to follow her unrelenting fashion cues. This was my new favorite show! I couldn’t wait to be able to participate in the pitch-fluctuating conversations with my coworkers every week. I was so looking forward to my cryptic Facebook posts that only other “Gladiators” would understand. I had visions of the memes I would create for Instagram. It would be hashtag heaven! I would finally be in the know!!! As I finished the first season, and was about to click on the first episode of Season 2, I heard it.
It’s not for you, Anna.
It’s not for you.
“I am not hearing this right. What do you mean it’s not for me?! Clearly, it IS for me, because I am in love with this show!! Finally a show that I can really get into! Plus everyone is watching it, and I need to catch up! I just have these last few episodes here, so…”
It’s not for you.
With my finger on the play triangle, I stopped. “Ok, God. I’m listening.”
I’ve got something different for you.
Ugh. “Why? It’s not fair. Everyone else gets to. I want to watch this show so much. Why would you take this away?”
I’ve got something different for you, Anna, and this show is not for you.
And that was it. I knew that I needed to obey Him. Because whatever God had for me, it had to be good. Because HE is good. And He loves us and wants the best for each and every child of His. Individually, uniquely.
So…I obeyed. And every conversation that I missed out on, every post that I didn’t understand, every Scandal commercial that would come on, every Olivia Pope makeup or clothing promotion, was a reminder. A reminder that I was missing out on something. But immediately after that reminder would come another one: “For I know the plans I have for you…”
Back to the drinking. When I became a born again Christian, I removed many things from my life that I deemed detrimental to my spiritual growth. It was not necessarily a word from God, but a quickening in my spirit. Me just knowing what I should and shouldn’t be doing in the moment. One of those things was drinking alcohol. In addition, drinking was understandably frowned upon by my pastor, since he had been saved from a destructive lifestyle fueled by drug and alcohol abuse. Rob struggled with some addictions in the past so it just made sense to stop drinking. Every few years we would enjoy a glass of champagne on our anniversary and such, but we were not what I would call drinkers. If we did drink, we didn’t advertise it, so as not to cause another person to stumble.
When my mom passed away, I went back to work only a few days after her death because I had a special event I was hosting. I probably should have cancelled, but I went anyway. When I got to work, I didn’t function well at all. I was a mess. Toward the end of the day, my coworker, who is a beautiful, strong, Godly woman, told me to go back to my hotel room and have a glass of wine and rest. I did. And I felt I had a total OK from God to do it.
From there, I began to realize that drinking wasn’t a “bad thing” in moderation. And I still believe that. If drinking doesn’t have a hold on you, and God hasn’t told you otherwise, go for it in moderation, is what I say.
When we moved down to Texas, I began seeing more and more pastors who drink openly. Some have Bible studies in bars and are beer connoisseurs. This was totally new, refreshing and very Jesus-like, to me! I can absolutely see Jesus teaching in a bar, hanging out with the people that the Pharisees would have shunned. So, I started drinking more often. Openly. I would have a beer at a restaurant. A glass of red wine with my coworkers. A frozen margarita with my friends. But then….
It’s not for you.
“Ugh!!! Really??!? Well guess what, I’m not listening. This is getting out of hand, Lord. I mean, why do you ask me — and no one else — not to do fun stuff??! Everyone else gets to watch whatever they want, drink whatever they want, but not me? Totally unfair, Lord.” *Fingers in ears* “LA LA LA LA LA I CAN’T Heeeear YOU!”
So, I didn’t tell a soul. Not anyone. Because if I did, I’d have to stop. I’d just keep this between me and God. I decided to negotiate. “Oh, I get it, God…you meant just don’t have alcohol in the house. Ok. I won’t have it in the house, then.” And I got rid of the bottle of wine on my countertop. But I still drank. For 6 months, I ignored Him. Until…
I began to study the word in depth. I looked up every scripture that mentioned obedience, obey, obedient. I meditated on it. And I saw something. I saw a very clear pattern: Obedience precedes joy. Obedience precedes peace. Obedience precedes freedom. Obedience precedes everlasting life. Obedience precedes abundance. Obedience precedes blessing. Obedience is good!! And it’s not so God can throw rules at me and control me and take something away from me, it’s to open up the paths and doorways that lead to the good plans that He has for me, plans that will create a domino effect that is infinite, not just for myself, but for others — many, many others.
That being said, I decided not to drink. But just in case, I told no one. I told no one what God had said to me. Because I knew. Deep down, I knew that I wanted a back door. A back door that would allow me to disobey in private, with no accountability. A back door that would allow me to indulge every once in awhile. I just wouldn’t go overboard. That would be OK.
A few days later, we went out to eat Mexican food with another couple. I went to the bathroom and when I came back, I realized that Rob had ordered me a frozen margarita. “Oh well,” I thought, “it’s not my fault Rob ordered me a drink. I’ll have to drink it now.” *Darn.*
As I was sucking down my delicious refreshment, my friend began telling us a story about how God had told her to do something completely out of her comfort zone. She went on to explain that even though it would be hard, she was going to do it anyway. Immediately, I thought of my incredible study on obedience and the amazing revelations I had received from God Himself. I was going to share with her how God blesses obedience, and how it was good for her to do what He asked her to. As I took a gulp of my frozen treat and readied myself to school her on obedience, I realized my mouth wouldn’t open. My jaw was cemented into place. My tongue. Wouldn’t. Budge. I wouldn’t be able to share. Not as long as I was ignoring God. And it was no longer a still, small voice. It was coming through louder and clearer than Beats by Dre Pro with Rotating Ear cups.
I went home silent. Washed my face, pressed on my La Mer Moisturizer, put my waffle knit jammies on, and climbed into bed.
“Are you OK?” Of course. Rob could sense something was off.
“Yes, I’m fine,” I quickly squealed. Not ready. Not ready to tell. Not ready to close the back door. Not ready to be held accountable. Not ready to miss out. Not ready to feel like an outcast. Not. Ready.
“Yep.” I got on Facebook. Rob read a book. And after about 10 minutes, I blurted it out. “I’m disobedient!! I’m disobeeeeeedient!!” I sobbed. And I proceeded to tell him. Everything. From the beginning, through that very moment. And as I told, my heart, which had become tighter than Kim K.’s Spanx, began to unfurl. My body felt lighter. And the peace of God washed over me.
Look, people. Some things are black and white, right or wrong, clear as day, written out word for word in scripture. Those things we already know. But some things are specific to you. The plan for your life is as unique as your fingerprint. YOUR plan you will receive by hearing God for yourself. By listening to what He is saying to YOU. Do you want to know what it is? Well, you’ve got to hear and obey. Only then will you start to receive what He has for you. And believe me — the peace of God, direction and blessing come, like a flood.
Since I’ve decided I WILL obey, God has dropped into my spirit glimpses of my future. Visions and dreams. He’s given me specific messages to give to people. And it’s been so good. So much better than enjoying a fleeting indulgence. Will I ever know specifically why he chose drinking as a no-go for me? I don’t know. And I don’t have to know. Because HE knows the plans He has for me. And the plans are good. They are hopeful. And I know without a shadow of a doubt that blessing ALWAYS follows obedience.
Listen. He’s speaking. What’s He telling you to do (or not to do)? All YOU have to do is obey.
Have you ever ignored God? What got your attention? Leave your story in the comments below. I want to hear from you:)