“To do more than God asks is disobedience. To do less than God asks is disobedience. We are to do exactly what God asks.” (Pastor James Sunnock)
Last fall I spoke about listening to God’s voice and how we could know it was Him talking to us. I also talked about the 21-day fast our church followed and how God spoke to me during that time, giving me some specific instructions He wanted me to obey in my life. Occasionally, since then, I’ve struggled from time to time wondering if I’m doing all He wants me to do. I don’t want to run ahead and I don’t want to fall behind. I want to give to others from the blessings given to our family; yet, I don’t want to give recklessly. I want to give intentionally. I want to please God and sometimes in my overeagerness, I think if a little is good, then a lot must be better.
That’s not the case when it comes to God. He doesn’t want us running ahead of His timing. He doesn’t want us falling behind His lead. He wants us to stay right with Him, listening to His voice, and obeying His commands. Not because He is a mean tyrant who wants to make our lives miserable, but because He’s our loving parent and knows what’s ultimately best for us.
Whenever I wonder about this concept, I’m drawn back to the Israelites who wandered the desert for forty years. They were guided by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. When the cloud settled over an area, the Israelites knew to set up camp. When the pillar lifted, then the Israelites knew God wanted them to move. The Bible tells us in Numbers 9:23, “At the Lord’s command they encamped, and at the Lord’s command they set out. They obeyed the Lord’s order, in accordance with his command through Moses.” (NIV) If the Israelites had decided to leave camp before the pillar was lifted, they would’ve disobeyed. If they decided they wanted to sleep in or spend another day taking in the sights when God lifted the pillar and said, “Move,” they would’ve been disobeying as well.
So, if God tells me He wants me to give some of my kids’ outgrown clothes away, if I give away more than He says, I’m disobeying. If I hear His voice nudge me to give away clothes and I choose instead to sell them, again, that’s disobedience.
When I thought about it that way, the pressure was relieved. At the same time, fear set in. What if don’t hear God correctly? What if He’s nudging me and I miss it? Then God nicely reminded me He doesn’t want me living in fear…of any kind. Self induced or false guilt. If I’m truly living a life of obedience, then God won’t let me miss His still small voice. He might have to tell me a few times, but if I’m listening, then I will hear Him correctly. Maybe not until the third or fourth time, but I will eventually hear. Disobedience and missing the mark aren’t the same thing.
God’s not in the business of using fear tactics to get us to bend to His will. He just asks me to be willing to listen and obey His voice. Sometimes easier said than done, but He already knows I’m not perfect.