Guest Post by Amy Rouse: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction


Welcome my special guest poster today Amy Rouse. She has two blogs American Christian, which gives a great perspective on the Christian culture here and often makes me examine my heart. Collect Yourself is her personal blog about her life and informative topics, many of which speak to women, so you’ll want to check it out. Amy has become my best blogging friend, how that happens over the internet, I don’t know, just did. You’ll find her intelligent, transparent, straight up, personal and loaded with God’s Word. Check out her blogs and enjoy her post today.

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is. . . that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.” I love the picture these words paint in my mind: A long and well-marked trail through God’s beautiful architecture. If I follow this path I will, somewhere up in the unforeseen distance, reach my destiny.

But that’s rarely how we experience the Christian journey, is it? We start out refreshed, renewed, determined, energized and committed to walk for however long it takes. But then we find it’s bumpy and messy and sometimes confusing. It’s dry and arid and waterless in spots, or the rain just never stops and we feel we’re drowning. And yes, sometimes, for even extended times, the walk is pleasant and uneventful. That, too, is challenging, maybe even the scariest: Life is good, why rely on God?

For many, many years I’ve stayed on the trail. But sometimes I’ve flat out quit walking. Or took off through the forest. I am a Prodigal Daughter, three times over. This is something I am very much ashamed of. (And here I am airing my dirty laundry on Julie’s blog!) But I think I can now look back and see three specific reasons why I messed up and quit following God, and I can find life lessons in them:

1. I wanted something other than God. I think this usually means wanting something God doesn’t want us to have. He knows us better than we do, BUT. WE. WANT. IT. NOW! My first departure from following Christ was to instead follow peers in high school. (Some were my long-time church friends who stopped following as well.) I wanted their approval and, as an unpopular student, that draw was irresistible. I desired the world more than I desired God.

2. I didn’t want something God wanted for me. In my early 20’s I was serving God in an unusual place. There were expectations and “rules” for conduct that were nearly stifling. This time I left because I wanted freedom from what I was afraid God would ‘make’ me do. I was afraid my obedience would make me miserable. Sounds crazy now, but this is much like the sacrificial ram jumping off the fire. Sure, we don’t want to stay in the hard places when God is refining us, but unless we learn the lesson, it’s waiting for us in our future still. I didn’t trust that God wanted only His best for me.

3. I didn’t pay attention to the things needing attention. The third and last time I stopped following was largely due to just getting lazy. I got apathetic about spiritual disciplines like reading God’s word and praying. It started slowly at first, little lapses. I thought, “I’ll catch up tomorrow.” I was on staff and in leadership at my church and got to the point where I thought I had got it all together. I became spiritually prideful. (“If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”) There were other factors, but regardless, soon fellowship became a ‘chore’ and selfish desires took over. The less I paid attention to my spiritual health, the more I was drawn to a worldly lifestyle. Before I knew it I wasn’t going to church any longer and you couldn’t much tell the difference between me and the next worldly girl. When you stop swimming upstream you start getting dragged downstream. I stopped following hard after God.

I am so thankful for stories in God’s word about folk who mess up (their dirty laundry not on someone’s blog but in the Bible for cryin’ out loud!) but they still go on to do great things or are called out for special recognition, recorded for all time. You know the ones: Peter who cursed and denied Jesus but Jesus called him the rock on which He’d build the church; And David, called “a man after God’s own heart,” of course we know he was an adulterer, a murderer, and a lousy dad. And finally the “real” prodigal son, who took his inheritance, squandered it, ended up eating with the pigs, then returned home hoping he could get a job as a family slave, but was instead redeemed by his dad.

I believe prodigal situations stem from what John talks about in 1 John 2:16: “For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.” Pride is a killer. I pray I will always recognize this and my obedience to the One Who loves me more than I could ever imagine will be very long (never-ending) and very much in the same direction (never-bending).

I hope you have not experienced prodigalness, but if you have, or are, there is hope, healing and a fresh start. Or three. (Or “seventy-times-seven”!) I’m proof. (Hey, while you’re in the blog-reading-mode, check out Julie’s blog on Grace Full Women about forgiving yourself. It’s important.)

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  1. […] Friday! I have a guest blog today at Julie Moore on Life and her devotional site, Grace Full Women. I met my wonderful friend Julie via a series of […]

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