‘Go pray for Janine’
It was the last day of the Youth Alive We the People Conference, and I was standing at the back of the mosh-pit during worship, when this thought popped into my head. I knew it was God, but instead of obeying straight away, what followed was a five-minute conversation of me listing every possible reason as to why I shouldn’t… To be honest, ‘the dog ate my homework’ would have been a better excuse.
It went something like this:
God: Go and pray for Janine.
Me: Okay, I guess I could do that.
I don’t move.
God: Go on then.
Me: But, look at her. She looks so beautiful worshiping. I don’t want to distract her.
Me: I like this song. I want to worship.
I look over. Janine is now kneeling and lifting her hands in passionate worship.
God: Look. What a perfect opportunity to go kneel next to her and pray with her. Put your arm around her.
Me: But what would I say?
God: Tell her I hear her prayer.
Me: Well, that’s a bit simple, isn’t it? I could have made that up.
God: The song is almost over… quickly!
Me: But I like this song…
We sing the last chorus and the song comes to an end. Luckily for me, there is more.
I look over to Janine. She is now sitting in her seat, flicking through the pages of her Bible.
Me: Well, I can’t go now, she’s obviously in the middle of something. I’ll definitely distract her!
God: Isn’t that just proof that she is searching for something?
Me: It’s got be more than, ‘God hears your prayer’.
God: Does it?
Me: It could have been just me?
By now, Janine is standing again, worshiping.
God: You know you’ll really regret it if you don’t go.
Me: *rolls eyes* Okay! Fine!
I thank God that He is ever so patient: and more annoying than I am stubborn. I thank God that I obeyed… eventually. I thank God that, even though I was oh so close to missing out, He persisted, and allowed me to be a part of something more important that I knew.
The rest of the story went something like this:
Janine has her eyes closed, worshiping. I touch her on the shoulder.
Me: …Can I pray for you?
I begin to pray, just saying whatever comes to mind. Then I tell her what God told me to say…
Janine looks at me astounded.
Janine: I am writing that down! Thank you. That was exactly what I needed to hear.
I silently berate myself for wasting those five minutes in an unwinnable argument and wonder what might have happened if I had acted sooner. (Though, ‘no one is ever told what would have happened.’)
Me: That means a lot, because I was debating for five minutes whether to come, wondering if I was just making it up.
Janine: No. It was perfect. Thank you for being obedient.
Was I? Really?
I am a karate sensei (teacher). In class, when a command is given, you have a split second to obey. And obey with a loud, clear and enthusiastic ‘hai!’ (Yes!) If my students don’t respond with all of this criteria, I make them stop and do it again. With one of my senseis, we get push-ups if we don’t respond loudly and immediately.
Why make them do it again? Why the push-ups? Because we train to respond “on command”. We train to respond without thinking. This ‘hai’ response is now so ingrained in me, that I have to stop myself from using it elsewhere. It hasn’t slipped out at church… yet, but when the preacher asks, ‘Amen?’ ‘Hai!’ is always on the tip of my tongue.
If I ever hesitated in karate like I did that day at Youth Alive, my sensei would… well, I honestly couldn’t tell you what they would do, because it just wouldn’t happen.
Which leads me to ask: Is obedience delayed, really obedience?
Even though I got there in the end, I still felt that I missed something. And it was only by God’s grace that I didn’t miss it altogether!
I walked away from Janine in embarrassed and befuddled amusement. All the excuses I had just given- to GOD, I might add- now seemed absolutely ridiculous. Janine wasn’t a stranger. I wasn’t’ preaching on the streets. I was in a church service for goodness sake! Yeah, the dog ate my homework really would have been a better excuse.
Over the next few days, I was really psyched that God had given me such an important word, but my hesitation bothered me. I didn’t feel guilty… I just wanted to know why? Why did I not obey when God first said, ‘go…’?
I prayed about this and God said, ‘the more time you spend with me, the quicker you will obey.’
Just like in karate, when the sensei says, ‘go,’ and I say, ‘hai!’ I wanted to obey God on command. So, for this last month I have been on a journey.
No asking, ‘why?’
Don’t think. Just do.
I call it Reckless Obedience.
Whether it’s ‘you don’t need two pieces of bacon,’ ‘don’t buy that,’ or ‘go talk to that person,’ I obey. Whether I think it’s God talking or it’s just my own thoughts, still, I obey. Have I always gotten it right? No. But I am trying…Training. And I am getting faster.
Now let me just say that I am not talking about being reckless in potentially dangerous situations. I am talking about the little things. An illustration by Steve McCracken has helped me immensely on this topic. He says, if it’s good or neutral, don’t argue, just obey. (Read here)
As in karate training, this act- this discipline– of Reckless Obedience is creating physical pathways in the brain. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. And then there are the Spiritual benefits. As Jesus teaches in the Parable of the Talents (Matt 25v14-30), if God can trust you with the small things, He can trust you with the big things.
Or as with Janine, what seemed like a small thing to me was actually a big thing. I remind myself of this whenever God gives me an instruction. I don’t want to be the reason someone else misses out on a miracle.
I want to be reckless.
I want to obey.
Fair warning to those who want to join me on my journey of Reckless Obedience: it won’t be easy. It will be inconvenient, tiring and it will make your head spin. But it will also be thrilling, spiritually strengthening and totally worth it.
I know my journey has only just begun. (In Geek terms, I’m barely out of the Shire!) There will be more to report, if you’ll join me…
It’s time to be reckless!