Obedience Over Understanding
Have you ever done something you believed God was telling you to do only to feel like He's telling you to do something completely opposite the next?
It's then that my need to understand kicks in. "Did I hear God incorrectly before?" "Why did He switch it up?" "Did I do something incorrectly?" The questions that flood the mind can be many. And where sometimes God let's me in on why, sometimes, He doesn't say anything. After the wrestling dies down and the questions fade, I realize, I don't really have to or need to know. What counts is obedience. That should be the position of my heart.
God asks us to not lean on our own human understanding, but to instead trust Him. And as His followers, we have the choice to lay down our "right to understand" and instead find refuge in His understanding, which is perfect, pure, and unadulterated.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5, NIV)
The greek word "heart"here is translated as leb ( לֵב) which is defined as inner man, mind, will, heart. To me, this means that all of me should be at rest, completely trusting in the Father, whether or not I understand, because I am not meant to lean on my own understanding.
God's ways are infinitely higher than ours, and whereas we may not always understand them, we can know that they will reflect His character and nature. I believe it's important for us to be familiar with His character and nature as it relates to His leading, because if we do have faulty understandings and holes in our thinking, then when God does throw us curveballs, or the way He guides offends our understanding, there lies the temptation to mistrust Him, become frustrated, or question our hearing. I oftentimes find that this is the biggest hold-up for myself--the wondering, "Did hear God right?" But I am learning, even if I failed to hear Him correctly, God will always lead me back to the intended, correct course, because He wants us to get His voice right. His will is supreme. My position is to tune in and always be listening.
I think of stories like Abraham, when God told him to sacrifice his son Issac. He clearly heard the Lord, and he heard correctly, though it seems absurd. Abraham responded with obedience. Then, just as he was about to follow through with what he heard, the Lord changed his direction, and again, Abraham responded in obedience. You see, he heard the Lord, but God switched it up, and because Abraham knew God's voice, he again responded in obedience. What was going on? God had a greater purpose beyond Abraham's understanding. He was testing his faith, his heart, his trust.
(1) "Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. 'Abraham!' God called. 'Yes,' he replied. 'Here I am.' 'Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.' ...(9) When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. At that moment the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, 'Abraham! Abraham!' 'Yes,' Abraham replied. 'Here I am!' 'Don’t lay a hand on the boy!' the angel said. 'Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.' (Genesis 22:1-2;9-11, NLT)
Wow, what a test of faith. I am struck by the fact at such a seemingly severe request, Abraham trusted the God he knew, and notably asked no questions. He stepped forward in obedience, only to have God switch the course, and thankfully, he knew the voice of the Father. I have always been in awe of Abraham's obedience.
There are times where I feel God has led me into what I call "Abraham and Issac moments." He says one thing, then switches it up. But as I see from this story and the moments I have had with God, more than my understanding, God is after my heart, that I would not hold anything back from Him. He's not asking for my understanding, He's asking for my trust and to trust His understanding. Sometimes, it's a test, just like it was for Abraham. Sometimes, He's teaching me something new. And other times, I have no clue and may never know. Regardless, what He's after and what is most important is my obedience, and I am continually learning that.
So, I am once again challenged to submit all of my leb--my inner man, mind, will, heart--to God as He leads and guides. It's in submission that we will experience His peace. And I am encouraged to trust His leadership, even in the moments when I don't understand. The fact is, His leadership is perfect, and it's above our understanding. It's beautifully superior. May we submit and agree with His leading, pressing pass any fear that could present itself, any doubt that could arise, and trust in a good, good, Father that guides us perfectly.