The Surprise

by Rhonda, July 16, 2023

Our city goes all out for 4th of July, and the entire sky is lit up with the celebration. We always look forward to our 4th of July parties.  Fireworks, food, and swimming in the backyard pool typically make for a fun gathering.  This year was no exception.  

But, this year, we had some special guests from Ukraine.

I sure do love that family, and I really enjoyed celebrating 4th of July with them this year.  It was probably my favorite 4th of July.  At one point, while my brothers set off yet another gigantic firework, the father of the Ukraine family looked up at the sky and said, "dreams do come true."

The things we take for granted living in this country.

I wonder sometimes what would have happened if I said no to God.  If I refused to act on something I clearly knew he was calling me to do, if I had not filled out the paperwork to sponsor a family from Ukraine.  They would still be stuck in limbo, and I would be wondering what happened if I had actually taken the leap.

I wonder how much I miss out on now, when He asks me to do something outside of my comfort zone and I refuse.  I bet I'm missing out on a lot.  It makes me want to be more obedient, more often.  

My issue is often times I find myself disobedient in the smallest of things.  Like perhaps I don't need to watch YouTube for hours on end.  Or maybe I don't need to buy that impulsive thing.  Or I can be kinder to my kids.  But, after watching the incredible miracle he worked for my family, and the family from Ukraine as he stitched our lives together, I have to wonder.

Am I missing out on more?  

It seems like common sense that God leads us down a path towards a better life.  But, if that's the case, why are we so resistant?  He good plans for our lives and His plans are not to harm us.  The Bible tells us so.  But, do we really believe that?  Do we really believe Him?  Or, is it just that we're resistant to being uncomfortable?

I've been thinking a lot lately about how insignificant this life is compared to eternity.  Yet, I spend so much time worrying about the little things.  I worry about my health, my money, my decisions.  What would happen if I just really believed that God leads me down a path towards a better life if I follow Him?  One decision to follow Him leads to another, which leads to another, and soon obedience becomes a habit.

I bet the disciples had the time of their lives following Jesus.  Yes, of course, I know it there were some very difficult times.  But, they spent the remainder of their lives faithfully preaching the Good News.  They couldn't forget it, and they couldn't lead their lives any other way.  They had the time of their lives following Jesus.  They experienced things we can only imagine, and they never wanted to deviate from the path He taught them.  

I want to be the same.  Yet, I'm so easily derailed.  Even Paul said, I do the things I don't want to do, and I don't do the things I should do.  I can certainly relate.  Paul and I might have been best friends.

I think obedience starts with the small things.  I've been reminded this week that anger is my default emotion as I've found myself getting upset over the smallest of things.  More days than not, I wake up angry.  Every day it is a different reason.  Some days it is over something significant and other days it is over nothing.  But the devil has a heyday with my short fuse. 

God has asked me to start dealing with this first thing in the morning,  He wants me to confront it head on by spending time with him as soon as all of this starts.  But, life is busy.  I get up and I am often late, fervently getting ready for work, trying to get out the door.  I tell myself I'll deal with it on the drive into work, but I'm often distracted and forget about it completely.  The next day is a carbon copy of the prior day.  And the cycle continues until I blow a fuse.

I wonder what I'm missing out on by not being obedient.  Actually, I don't have to wonder.  I'm missing out on peace, contentment, and healing.  All because I won't get up 15 minutes earlier, or because I stayed up late the night before and I'm too tired to focus that early in the morning.

Its a small thing, but at the same time, it is a big thing.  Why on earth is it so difficult for me to be obedient when God is asking something so little of me?  And, it is for my own benefit? One has to question their level of intelligence to be this stupid.  I can do something so big for Him, such as bringing a family here from Ukraine, yet be so disobedient in the small things.  

Disobedience in the small things is perhaps where most of our misery lies.  It is where the battles are won and lost.  Our small decisions every day make all the difference.

So, as I've asked God to show me the next big thing He wants me to do, I anticipated something big.  I thought maybe He would want me to start a nonprofit.  Maybe write a book.  Perhaps lead a Bible study at church.  But, He has asked me to get up 15 minutes earlier every day to deal with my anger.  

I really didn't expect that.  It is such a small thing, and it seems so insignificant and if I'm honest, boring. I'm ready to "do" things for God.  I didn't expect Him to ask me to change for Him.  But, how could I have not seen this coming?  This is God's calling card.  He's always changing us for the better.  He's always forming us into the image of Christ. 

Christ didn't live an angry life.

So, tomorrow, I've set my alarm for 15 minutes earlier.  The only way to heal anger is to seek the Healer himself.  It is time to start the new life of adventure He's calling me to, even though it wasn't what I anticipated.

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