The strange thrill of obedience

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In my last blog entry I shared that I have accepted that God created me a free spirit. And that is true. I had long denied my deep need for freedom to be who I am because I did not trust my desire for freedom. I did not trust my emotions. I did not trust my own heart. So I learned to repress my desires through a distorted understanding of obedience. I played it safe. I strove to be acceptable. I was the good girl.

Imagine my astonishment when I realised God wanted to free my heart from its self-imposed imprisonment. Imagine my anxiety when I realised God was awakening my desires – the same desires I had always distrusted! Imagine my confusion when God keeps thwarting my safe and rational plans for my life and leaves me with only himself as guarantee. And by the way, he does not share his plans with me. He only asks me to follow him in faith.

When I left full-time work in 2014, I was uncomfortable with the ambiguity of being on sabbatical. I felt obliged to “have a plan” and so I thought the most obvious plan was to further my studies. God said gently, but firmly, “No.” He told me, “Rest.” I asked, “Till when?” He said simply, “That’s not for you to worry about.” So I rested, and my creative juices were unlocked, and I took photographs and started writing again and God revived my inner-child. And I was glad. Then, as signs began to surface that God was leading me out of my sabbatical, I began again to entertain the idea of further studies or formal formation in the area of spirituality or spiritual direction. I even brought this into discernment for my 8-day retreat last year. Once again, God’s response – confirmed by my retreat director – was, “No. There is something else I have in mind for you.” And strangely enough, when I accepted his ‘no’, I felt liberated and serene.

I felt that God was saying to me that he wants to lead me by another way that I know not. He knows how much I wish for familiar solutions to hide behind and he loves me too much to let me settle for less. He will lead me by the path that will challenge me the most to grow in faith, in humility, and in love. Once I accepted this, I found myself being stretched in ways I had never expected. Henry and I found ourselves hosting long-term guests who are in a season of re-discovering God, finding new and creative means to minister to others – especially young people, couples, and parents of young children. Henry and I even found ourselves agreeing to dog-sit for 6 weeks when we had never taken care of a dog before, and when we had only met her owners once – when we went to their home to give a session! At each point, God had said, “Go!” and I went. And uncomfortable as it was at times, my life became fuller and more beautiful than I could have imagined. I was ALIVE. I was experiencing what it means to obey in a whole new way. In the past, I practised obedience as submitting myself to rules and laws – and that only made me unhappy and full of self-rejection. But now I was learning that obedience was about surrendering my life and my well-being to Love itself. It makes a world of a difference! For do not lovers thrill to surrender themselves to their beloved? If they are deeply loved, they will. And I am finding out every day more and more how deeply I am loved.

I am learning that my free-spiritedness is from my heavenly Father whose Spirit gives me true freedom. I am learning that God is wild and unpredictable, and that if I cannot trust in his love for me, I would forever be trying to tame him into my image instead of allowing him to show me how I am created in his. I am still fearful and timid a lot of times. And I am annoyingly aware of my inadequacies and shortcomings. I still do not like suffering and physical discomfort makes me embarrassingly short-tempered. But God keeps showing me that all this doesn’t matter to him. Will I stay close to him? Will I come back whenever I wander off? Will I trust him? That’s all he needs from me to make of me the masterpiece he had envisioned from eternity.

*Deep breath* Ok Lord. I’m ready to go where you lead in 2016. I trust you. Surprise me! 

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