The real test of obedience doesn’t come on Friday night at camp, when you raise your hand, when you respond to the preaching and the impassioned invitation and the beautiful music and go forward and “make a decision.” It doesn’t happen on Sunday morning, when the pastor’s plea touches your heart, or at a woman’s conference when you see the distance between your reality and your “ought to be” and decide to make a change.
That decision is a beautiful thing. But it is, at best, the opening of a door.
The real moment of truth comes Monday morning, when you set the alarm, get out of bed, and open God’s Word. It comes on Tuesday afternoon, when you take that opportunity to share Christ with your friend. It comes on Thursday, when you seek someone to hold you accountable, and on Friday when you keep your mouth shut and refuse to join in with the corrupt communication of your friends or coworkers or teammates. It comes on Saturday morning, when you spend your time in prayer instead of sleeping in, and on Sunday at church, when you follow through with that decision you made to get more involved in the ministries there.
I know that not everyone just got back from an emotionally-charged week at church camp, but I think we have this habit of expecting God to do huge things at camp or conferences or whatever, of responding to His work in our lives during those times, and then of not following through when the emotional high is over. This is a cycle I have seen in my own life, time and again, through years of being named a Christian.
It is amazing to get away and to expect and then see God work, doing great things. It is a beautiful thing to be refreshed in that way, with our responsibilities temporarily lifted so that we can really focus on our walk with the Lord.
But what if the main reason God works so mightily in those weeks or weekends away– camps and conferences and retreats– is because that is when we’re expecting Him to do His work? What if we are limiting God’s ability to work in our lives because we’re not expecting Him to show up and do something amazing on a boring old Tuesday morning?
And what if what He really desires to do is meet us every single day and do a great work in our lives? What if Thursday afternoon in the middle of a regular week of school and work and life could be just as incredible as Friday night at camp?
One of the things that came up a lot with my girls at camp last week was personal devotions– time with God each day, reading His Word and praying. I think this is an area where a lot of believers feel a lot of guilt, because we know our time with the Lord is not a high priority, or not as good as it should be, or seems pointless. We’re not sure where to start or what to do once we’ve got our Bibles open. And for a lot of us who were raised in the church, we feel, perhaps secretly and guiltily, that the Bible is so familiar that there isn’t much else for us to learn.
The truth is that God’s Word is the expression of the heart of God, a heart that is so far beyond our ability to understand that we will literally spend all of eternity on our quest to know Him fully. This means that we can never plumb the depths of His Word during our time in this life. And I think most of us would mentally assent to that, but still struggle to believe it. We would make the decision at the conference or the special church service, but still scratch our head over Noah’s ark on Monday morning, wondering what there can possibly be in that passage that we haven’t heard a million times before.
Here is what God has taught me: I must come expectantly to God’s Word each day. I must trust that the Bible has something for me every single day, that He is as amazing as He says He is, that He wants to teach me and meet me in the pages of His inspired Book. And so I must open my Bible and read it, study it, expecting that I will find words of life for me today. Faith says I feel like this is so familiar and like there can’t possibly be anything new here, but God says His Word is profitable and will not return void. So I am going to read it and trust that there is something profitable here for me.
And then– and this is extremely important– once God has revealed something to me, even if it is something basic, I need to obey it. I really believe that one of the reasons we don’t see anything new in the Word of God is because we’re not obeying what we already know we’re supposed to be doing. It’s like we’re standing at the bottom of a long flight of stairs, looking up. I can memorize every detail of all the stairs in front of me, but if I don’t take the step up the first one, I’m never going to see what waits higher up.
Friends, don’t wait for the next scheduled spiritual mountaintop to expect great things. God wants to start doing a good work in you today as you step out in faith-filled obedience.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.