Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The price of disobedience

Lately Charles Stanley, on his "In Touch" radio broadcasts, has focused his messages on obeisance to the LORD. Now, that should be a given, but it's amazing just how many people want the blessings of following Jesus but not to do what He says when He says to do it or not to do something when He says to refrain. (Of course, while heeding the words of Scripture should be primary, at times He may use other means.) Anyway, as part of my spiritual process, He has on just four occasions brought this spirit of extreme heaviness upon me to keep me from doing something I shouldn't.

At this point, I'm about to confess something I never have mentioned before, either publicly or in private conversation: One of the major traumas in my life, if not the biggest, took place in part because of my disobedience.

As a high-schooler I had developed an interest in a girl in a church youth group -- it wasn't mutual, but I still pestered her quite a bit. (I had actually made a commitment to Christ as part of the group.)

Anyway, she attended college out of town, so one day after she left I wrote her a letter asking for a visit -- and that "spirit of heaviness" showed up, in this case for the second time (I had obeyed the first time). But I ignored it, thinking, "What can it hurt?"

I would soon find out. She declined my request and, without getting into any details, let me say that all hell broke loose; the experience left me very bitter and disillusioned for the next two years or so. Right around this time my parents' marriage, which already had been failing, finally collapsed, and it finally hit me that some of the dynamics with that girl were somewhat similar. Having some major character flaws exposed, I decided I needed to make some major changes and God began to work in my life in ways He never had before.

About a decade later the Spirit had me attempt to reestablish contact with her; I hesitated at first because I didn't want things to go the way they did before, but He overruled my objections. I remember that, when I dropped a package in the mail, I said, "If this is You, I'm expecting results." Well, I did get a positive reply and have since reconciled with her, although we're not and likely will never be particularly close friends.

But you best believe that I haven't disobeyed that "spirit of heaviness" since. In 1988 He told me not to take a lucrative job I was offered in my brother's plant; to this day I don't know what I was avoiding, but when I did turn it down I felt a sense of Godly relief. In 1999, at the beginning of my relationship with my last steady girlfriend, a single mother of three sons, I had visited her church on a Sunday morning just to check it out, and the Spirit impressed on me during the sermon, "Do NOT go to this church." (Over the next two years, the time we were together, God gave me three specific confirmations.) Well, she decided she wanted to marry me -- but also for us to attend her church as a family and would accept no explanations for not doing so. Eventually I realized (and others who knew me had already noticed) that we were "unequally yoked," and I left.

Bottom line, eternal God can take even our sins and work them in a way that gives Him glory -- the history of ancient Israel is proof of that. But there's a reason the prophet Samuel told King Saul after the latter offered an unauthorized sacrifice, "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams" (I Samuel 15:22). And today I'd rather do it right the first time than have Him pick up the wreckage that would result from my failure to listen to Him.

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

Blue Deacon, glad I discovered this blog. Ignoring the experience of heaviness has landed me in the belly of the whale on more than one occasion. For years I wasn't sure where the heaviness came from; my spiritually abusive upbringing, or the Lord. One had guilt and fear attached to it. Today I am patient to listen and discern.