“If you love Me, keep My commands.” John 14:15 (NIV)
One time while we were living in Melbourne Australia, I was invited to facilitate an elder’s retreat for a church. I was learning and growing in hearing the voice of God and felt I was only share what He said to me. And He did speak, though not as much as I had hoped. He literally gave me four words. No, not four separate “words” or messages. Nope, all I got was a four-word sentence! As I drove to this weekend long retreat I was sure God was going to give me more to share over the weekend, but He remained silent! When I got there everyone was excited about what God was going to do and what I was going to bring. As the worship went on, and btw it was beautiful, I kept waiting for God to bring more, and hoping the worship would continue until He did. But no more came. Then they introduced me and I got right to the point. I told them that this is the word the Lord gave me, and I now give it to them… WHOSE CHURCH IS IT? Once it came out of my mouth, I said that’s it, and I left, returning home for the weekend. It was not an easy drive home, as doubt and confusion attacked me. I couldn’t believe I actually just delivered the message and left! I thought for sure they would no longer want me or my family at their church!
Apparently, they were not impressed, to say the least! In fact, some were actually angry with me, after all, I was supposed to be facilitating this entire weekend (and did I mention this was a very “important” retreat?). After they got over the shock, and anger, one of the elders suggested that maybe they should consider my question. And as they began talking about it, the Holy Spirit showed up and brought them all under a strong conviction that they had indeed taken control of the church. They spent much time in prayer, repenting, and ultimately the weekend became a very productive time together, which resulted in realigning this church with God’s purpose once again.
Honestly, that was so challenging for me not to add my own words, or to make excuses. And had I stayed, I have no doubt that the outcome would not have been nearly as good as the one that came from it.
Sometimes God asks us to do things that we do not understand. No wonder we are instructed to trust God with all our heart, not to lean on our own understanding, to put Him first in everything, and when we do, He will make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6). Jesus said if you love Me you will obey Me (John 14:15). He also said that if we truly are His sheep we would hear His voice and follow Him (John 10:27). Listening, obeying and following the Holy Spirit is our primary call as followers of Jesus Christ.
Ask God to show you every place where He has spoken and you have ignored Him or disobeyed by not doing it (James 4:17). Ask Him to re-instate you and to speak once again. Tell Him you are listening and will obey no matter what He says, or how He leads. Pray for your pastor to have courage to be relentlessly obedient in everything the Lord says to do. Ask God to release a grace over your church to love Him wholeheartedly and as such, for a radical obedience to spread through your congregation. Remember, nothing is impossible for those who believe (Mark 9:23)!