When it comes to God, delayed obedience is actually disobedience.
- Jim Shempert
Have you ever been nonchalantly listening to the Sunday sermon when suddenly your toes began to hurt a little? This happened to me Sunday. My pastor was talking about supporting fellow believers through sickness, death, and other trials in life. He challenged us to go the extra mile; to get out of our comfort zone, and to reach out to the world and show them Christ.
Faithful Christian living is not practiced in the church building alone. It actually only begins as you are leaving to enter the fray of the world. Puffed up by a good sermon, I stepped out into the world refreshed and ready to go again. After church, I took my family to lunch. My three-year-old is a mixture of a beautiful princess and independent hurricane. Eating is always a struggle with her. Even so, while we were waiting for our food, I saw an older lady sit down a few tables away from us. It was only a casual glance, but I could tell that she was there alone.
Something would not leave me alone about her. I kept looking over to her as she sat alone in a busy restaurant. I felt the urge to go ask her to come eat with my family. My child was busy destroying a few napkins and knocking over anything in her way, so I hesitated. As our food got to us, my focus shifted to getting my daughter to eat a few morsels to keep her alive. Yet I continued to notice the lady out of the corner of my eye, but still hesitated to invite her to our table since our little family comes with chaos at meal times.
Following the meal and as I went to pay, I noticed that the lady was behind me with a to-go box in her hand. I turned to speak to her since the urge had been there throughout the entire meal. I smiled and said, “I started to invite you over to eat with us, but I was afraid my daughter would be too much of a distraction for you.” The lady immediately started to weep. “I would have welcomed it. This is the first meal I have been out to since my husband died. It was too much for me, I couldn’t even eat.”
When it comes to God, delayed obedience is actually disobedience. That’s something I have heard most of my life. At its root it is idolatry. It’s thinking that I have a better plan than God does. Here I had a chance to fulfill the community aspect that we are called to exhibit. However, I chose to ignore her rather than welcome her into my chaos. What she needed most was to be surrounded by a family at a time of great loneliness.
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:34-40)
I failed my King. I didn’t welcome the stranger. I chose to ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit to reach out to her and missed out on the blessing of easing her pain even a little. How can my relationship with Him be healthy, when I choose to ignore His commands?
If we are truly Christians, another’s political view, favorite sports team, or opinion on whatever social issue does not exempt us from the commands of Christ. He commands us to be His light in a world full of darkness. He doesn’t call us to comfort or happiness. He bids us to ‘come and die’ so that we can be truly alive in Him.
Eighty six thousand four hundred. That is the number of seconds each of us have in every day. If you are still above ground, those seconds are gifted to you from a Holy God who wants you to go and tell others about Him. That doesn’t mean that you have to be the new Franklin Graham, but it does mean that you may have to step outside your safe zone and trust that God knows what is truly best for you.
Or you could do as I did, and ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit, only to realize later that you could have been Christ to someone in need. The shame of ignoring God is far greater than the uncomfortable feelings that you may be presented when following His commands.
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Hebrews 13:2