Faithful Obedience by Gwen Burrow

I love being friends with Gwen. Her love for the Lord and for the Word is clearly seen in the way she does life. Passionate and joyful are two adjectves that describe her and two of the various reasons why her company is always a gift. I’m sure you will enjoy the company of her words today on this blog series.

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How to be a a Faithful Traveler
by Gwen Burrow

On top of the world
Boots drumming, heart hammering,  I race up the indoor staircase of the ski lodge. My friend Grace is on my heels. We’ve been like this for two weeks: me charging ahead, Grace following to make sure I don’t kill myself on our whistle-stop gallivant across Europe. Dublin > Howth > Berlin > Rothenburg > Nürnberg > Salzburg > Munich > Dachau > southern Bavaria > and finally a vertiginous ride in a glass gondola up to this ski lodge. But I am not here to ski.

At the top of the stairs I burst through the door to the outside. The air at 10,000 feet is thin and bright. Snow-sharpened wind runs up my nose. My eyeballs feel cold when I blink. But I still haven’t reached the top of the lodge and I still can’t see what I came to see.

There’s a ramp. I keep running. Halfway up, I glance over my shoulder and catch my first glimpse of a wide panorama jeweled with blue and white mountain peaks. “I think I might cry,” I hear myself say.

The ramp ends. The world opens. And I step at last onto the wide, windy, snow-packed terrace.

I am in the middle of an Alpine sea: stunning ridge after ridge, rock tip after rock tip spreading out to the horizon and the horizon after that as far as the eye or telescope can reach. Heavy white wings of winter clouds cover the pale afternoon sun, but the mountains are clear. From here I see over 400 peaks across Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy. The world has split into thirds: a cathedral of sky, a ring of mountains, and spectacularly hewn cliffs plunging in deep, cobalt shadows to a bottom I cannot see.

Laughing, gasping, I race from railing to railing, trying to take it all in. And I do cry (sort of). Tears come to my eyes but freeze before they can spill over. The yearning, phantom limb-like pain I have felt all my life belongs to a place and that place is here: on top of Germany. As far as I am concerned, on top of the world.

How did I get here?

I climbed.

Sehnsucht
Everyone feels Sehnsucht for a place, a time, a season, an idea. That exquisite ache which C. S. Lewis calls Joy, Sehnsucht is “the stab, the pang, the inconsolable longing,” “an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction,” “always a desire for something longer ago or further away or still ‘about to be’ “ (Surprised by Joy).

My Sehnsucht is for mountains.

I was born in Germany but have no memory; I was only nine months old when my family moved back to the States. Growing up in Florida and surrounded by jungle at sea level, I could hardly imagine a hill, let alone a real height. It was The Sound of Music that gave me my first look. As I watched the von Trapp family hike to freedom, the Alps became more than a series of pretty peaks. They stood for everything beautiful, painful, and to be desired in the war against evil. Five years old, I knew in my bones that if I was supposed to “climb every mountain” till I found my dream, then my dream was to defy darkness like Captain von Trapp ripping that swastika in two.

Regarding mountains, I do not feel the ache of Sehnsucht so much as I am pierced by it as by a spear. When the oxygen is thin and the pulse racing in my temples and death is a very long way down, then beats hard my own yearning to live a good story and die on time.

Mountains are where bloody sacrifices are made and good wins. Mountains are Zion. Mountains are Golgotha. Mountains are temples, altars, crosses. On the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided, and on the mount it was said, “It is finished.” “Molon labe” cried three hundred Spartans at the mountain pass, the very gates of Hades. Down the slopes into the Valley of Death rode the six hundred. The Alps stretch half a league, half a league, half a league onward, and in their cousins the Pyrenees you can hear the echo of Roland’s horn. “Here I stand,” says the mountain. “I can do no other.”

For thirty years I felt like a kite flying high and loose on semi-permanent loan to America, my real country after all; there’s no doubt my loyalties are stained red, white, and blue. But always Something held the other end of the long string across the ocean. The only question was when It would reel me in. One day I would go back and touch the snowy crown of the country where the world waged its second bloody war and thousands of my patriot brothers died. I simply had to go.

I explain this so that when I tell you that returning to Germany didn’t feel like destiny, but like I would die or go insane if I didn’t, you’ll believe me.

Well, that was my first mistake. I went insane.

Climb
How you travel is how you live. If you want to run a quick test on how your life is going, if you want to check the quality of your gratitude and trust in God, then step foot out your door—or try to. The first person you meet is yourself. And in my case, it wasn’t a pleasant meeting.

After graduating college and getting a real job, I set my sights on a trip to Germany. All I needed was a budget and a travel buddy. I saved money, invited friends, and made a plan. Then my dad recommended that I buy a car first. So I bought a car. Then my friends had to cancel. So I invited more friends. They agreed, then had to cancel too. I asked my friend Grace if she’d like to come…but no, she was already planning a trip to Italy.

Two years went by. During this time, I didn’t stop planning for a single minute. When I get an idea, I go from zero to sixty in two seconds flat. Trying to stop me is trying to stop a train. I pestered my travel-savvy friends for advice on packing, trains, hotels. On my cubicle wall I thumb-tacked two maps of Germany for motivation (like I needed any). I devoured a dozen books on World War I and II. I updated my passport. I studied German. I planned a wild itinerary: Ireland, Austria, France, and Germany: four countries, 16 cities, 19 days.

And still, no travel buddy.

Finally I announced to my dad that I would go by myself. Now, my dad rarely puts his foot down about anything (especially since I was out of the house and had been for years), but he put his foot down right then (and wisely). No, I was not about to run around Europe alone. End of story.

In despair, I literally made myself sick. Stress caused my adrenaline to skyrocket. My stomach was in knots, appetite dead, digestion in gridlock. I barely slept because I barely needed to. My mind was racing a million miles an hour, trying to solve this problem. I must go, this needs to be my story, so why won’t it just work?!

At long last, the truth broke. Bad job, Gwen. How many times does God have to break your fingers? Let go. Put this trip on the altar. Give it up. One hundred percent. Keep nothing back. So I gave Germany away. I told God that if I ever made it back to my birth country, I wanted the trip to be from Him. Because I was done fighting.

That very second, my appetite returned to normal. And I slept.

Let Go
My dad has a saying: God never takes anything away unless it’s to give you something even better.

God could have kept saying no, and if He had, then that would have been the better story. But when I finally became content not to travel, I suddenly remembered that I’d never noticed any Facebook pictures of Grace’s trip to Italy. Perhaps she hadn’t gone after all. I sent her a quick, tentative email. Was she, by any chance, interested in Germany now?

Yes.

She said yes.

As it turned out, Italy had fallen through months ago, but Grace had continued to save money anyway…based on sheer gut instinct that God would send her on a journey somewhere else.

My heart started skipping again, but I held my excitement down like you’d hold a beach ball under water. My dad still had to mull the idea over for several days, in his methodical lawyer way. Europe was no longer the Europe he’d known in the 1980s. ISIS was rearing its ugly head and Ebola was creeping across continents, leaving a wake of panic and dead bodies. Even with a companion, traveling might not be the best idea.

August 29, 2014. My dad still hadn’t given me an answer. I was driving to my parents’ house for the weekend and I figured he would tell me his decision at the end of my visit: the answer would be no. The trip was simply too dangerous. Thirty years old and on my own, I still respected my father. I knew I would never leave without his approval. If he was telling me to stay, then God was telling me to say. And I was fine with it.

I walked into my parents’ house that warm summer night and hugged my dad, determined not to say a word. He’d tell me in his own time. I had waited years. I could wait a few more days.

Still hugging me, he said without warning: “Hey Gwenny, Europe sounds okay.”

I jerked away. I felt like I’d been electrocuted. “Really?” Then I grabbed him in another hug and squealed.

My dad said firmly: “Just don’t stay in any hostels where it’s an open room with guys and girls.”

What? Of course not! What kind of girl did he think he’d raised? But all I said was, “Okay, I won’t!” Bouncing off the walls. Sheer joy. I was a champagne bottle, heavily shaken and suddenly uncorked. My poor family got the spray, but they were kind enough to join my excitement. Mom started Googling pickpocket-proof purses and the statistics of getting scammed at ATMs. Jen and Lacy were thrilled. Kate pouted and said I had to skip Trinity College in Dublin because I wasn’t allowed to see the Book of Kells without her (she has since then seen the Book of Kells without me). Erin just said: “DO YOU HAVE A CUTE COAT AND CUTE BOOTS.”

I texted Grace with delirious thumbs and barely intelligible English. My message went something like this: “!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We’re going!!!!!!!!!!!!!! EEEEEEEEEEEE!”

And at long, long last, the planning began in earnest. I stayed up past midnight as I researched flights, cities, castles, weather, trains, shopping, history, Rick Steves, Rick Steves, Rick Steves. Because zero to sixty.

Go

Learn this now: Wherever you want to go, you must plan and budget and work for it, and still wait for God to hand it to you. Traveling, like everything else, is a gift. Gifts must be given. You can’t make it happen. You can’t seize for yourself. Oh, you can try, but you’ll make yourself sick and miserable like I did; or maybe God will grant you your way like the father granted the prodigal son his inheritance. Either way, you won’t be happy. Stolen fruit is never sweet.

As with traveling, so with everything. Open your hand and let go whatever you’re desperately clutching. An open palm is open for surrendering gifts, but it is also open for receiving them. And God will put something even better in its place. If you want the gift of Go and God says Stay, then you may sleep in peace, knowing that Stay is better than Go.

Do most people travel for fun? To see new things? To get away from normality? I went to find something, and God gave me so much more than I was even looking for—right in my own home. And when I finally stood in the Alps and watched the sun sink in a riptide of pink glory, I realized God hadn’t just relented and said yes. He had been chasing me here all my life.

Faithful Obedience by Connie Rosendahl

Connie has been a strong example on how to live in faithful obedience through very hard Providences. Her steadfastness and joy are always visible and contagious. It is truly a privilege to worship with her in the same church and learn from her.

Note: She also makes the most delicious cookies and ships anywhere in the States.

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Faithful obedience shines brightest and is most vibrant in the backdrop of personal trials. The faithfulness of a humble and obedient believer is used by God to display His glory.

Therefore our goal in each trial should be to give glory to God. Spend time in God‘s word and in prayer and ask Him to complete His work through you.

Give glory to the Father: The sovereignty of God means that every
atom is under His control. Therefore, every minute detail of each affliction is from my gracious heavenly Father. He has designed my life perfectly for me. He has also ordained a wonderful balance between trial and refreshment in this life.

Give glory to the Son: Jesus is described as the Good Shepherd, who tenderly cares for his sheep. Romans 8:35-37 lists more trials then we will ever see in our lives. And yet, none of them can separate us from His love. Also give glory to Christ for His redemptive work on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. Therefore, when we give way to doubt and despair in trials, we can seek His forgiveness.

Give glory to the Spirit: We give glory to Him for His effectual work of comfort, healing, and sustaining grace. He convicts us of sin and then refreshes our soul in a peace that surpasses all understanding.

Dear Sisters, are you suffering? Develop the discipline of glorifying God in your trials. Then your present hardships will appear light and momentary (and in fact, even joy-filled) compared to the weight of glory, beyond all comparison (2 Cor. 4:17, James 1:2).

Soli Deo Gloria

Connie Rosendahl

Faithful Obedience by Vicki Church

Vicki and I sat together during a Counseling in a Week training program and what a privilege it was to spend that time with her. One of the things I learned from her was that a quiet disposition of the heart is something to be treasured. I pray I can imitate her on that!

Thank you, dear Vicki for your willingness to contribute to this series on Faithful Obedience.

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Faithful Obedience In Our Worship Practice
by Vicki Church

What came to my mind as I thought of faithful obedience was being obedient in our worship of God. Worship shapes our life in so many ways. It teaches us to sing praises to God, to read and understand the scriptures, and to confess our sins. We are fed through the Word and the sacraments. I am thankful to my parents who raised me in the Christian faith and for my husband who took our family to worship each Sunday. Of course, there were time that it was hard to get everyone ready to get out the door. And, there were times when I went out of a sense of duty and without a desire to worship. But this simple act of obedience was one that has shaped my life and for which I am grateful.

When we assemble as one body, we meet together to praise God, pray, confess our sins, and we are fed through the sacraments and the Word. This establishes the pattern for our lives.

I was so blessed to be raised in a home where it was the rhythm to our week. We usually planned our vacation time around Sunday worship, either leaving on Monday or planning where we would worship when we were away from our home church. It may be felt by some to be legalistic, and I confess that as a child sometimes it felt that way. But as we raised our children, I began to understand the reasons for the adherence to the Sabbath and appreciate it.

One incident in particular comes to mind. My husband and I and our three children just arrived home from Sunday worship and there was a phone message on our answering machine. My youngest sister had just been in a car accident and was in a coma. We quickly grabbed some clothes and drove the two and a half hours to the hospital. The Lord took her the following Saturday morning. On Sunday morning we all attended church. It was difficult to sing some of the songs, especially “It is Well with my Soul”, but the Word and the music was like balm to my soul. We found ourselves praising and thanking God through our tears.

One of the foundational commandments is “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.” Exodus 20:8. The prophet Ezekiel reminded the Israelites, “Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them. “

Worship teaches us to sing praises to our Father. I heard Elizabeth Elliot speak at a conference some years ago. I was struck by the number of hymns that peppered her speech. The Word just permeated her thought pattern because of the hymns that she had learned through worship. What a blessing to be taught the Word and hymns from an early age!

Worship teaches us to constantly look to the Lord to be fed through His Word. As we open the scriptures each day it calls to mind and reinforces what we have been taught through the exposition of God’s Word each Sunday. As many of us are involved in the Bible challenge, we are reading the scripture more than ever. Hearing it exposited each Sunday, makes the weekly reading more understandable and helps us to develop deeper roots. We are taught how to think about the world and equipped to handle what the Lord gives us to practice that week.

Worship feeds us at His table each week. Being summoned and welcomed to the table each week, instills a pattern of hospitality that we can imitate in welcoming others to our table each week.

The apostle Paul also exhorts us. “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much more as you see the Day approaching. “ (Hebrews 10:24-25)

I am so grateful to be able to worship each Sunday and pray that the Lord will use it more and more to shape me to be able to understand His Word, to follow the example of sharing a table, to confess sin, in short to grow in grace.

Faithful Obedience by Emily Abens

I am so happy to have my friend Emily Abens writing for this series today. She is such a fun and thoughtful friend who makes the yummiest meals ever. When we get to have lunch together,  I always find it a delight to see how the Lord is at work in the lives of all His children. Emily’s love for God and His Word are evident in her life and that is always contagious!

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A Roadmap to Walk in Faithful Obedience
by Emily Abens

What does faithful obedience look like in my season of life? I have a “roadmap” of sorts that helps me as I do my best to live a life of faithful obedience. These are big picture concepts and they will apply in the tiny details differently for each person. How this roadmap plays out in the nitty gritty, everyday, practical ways of my life will not be the same as how it plays out in the details of your life. Nor will this roadmap play out the same for me tomorrow as it did 10 years ago. This is a beauty of life, yes? The practical details of faithful obedience differ from woman to woman and from season to season, yet the big picture concepts remain. So let’s dive in.

We ought to take care how we build our foundation, and Christ needs to be the cornerstone (1 Corinthians 3:10–15 and Ephesians 2:19-20). Building and keeping a firm foundation is one of the most important things we should do as Christians. If our foundation is off or needs work, we need to fix what is faulty before moving on. Our foundation centers in Christ and throughout the years I have found that these three things help me maintain and strengthen my foundation:

First, live your life knowing that no amount of works can save you. Nothing you do will get you into heaven. It is only by Jesus’ blood and righteousness. Salvation is a gift–the most amazing gift–and nothing we do allows us to boast in anything other than the Gospel.

Second, stay close to God. Pray and be in the Word daily. Even if you don’t “feel” fed that day, you are being nourished. Stay disciplined in this. I find I have days when I do not feel like reading my Bible or praying – even when I do read and pray these days, I still don’t “feel” fed. Yet I know that although that’s how I’m “feeling”, it isn’t true. God is feeding me because that’s what He’s promised to do and we can trust that His word is truth (John 6:35). church membership and weekly attendance are another critical component for my walk with God. These are very important in staying close to God and helps with accountability.

Finally, surround yourself with a team of people who will push you to be more Christ-like. This team will know that works cannot save you–only Christ can. They will walk alongside you, keeping you accountable in your walk with the Lord, reminding you to pray and be in the Word daily. They will pick you up by the bootstraps of your baptism; they will point out what’s right and wrong; they will remind you when you forget who Christ is, what He has done for you, and what that truth means for your life. I’ve found that it is especially important to have people in my life who will notice when I’m in the wrong. These people will graciously come alongside to lovingly correct me by emphasizing Biblical truths when I’m forgetting the love of Christ.. You become like the people you spend the most time with or they become like you. You are either being influenced or you are influencing others in each relationship. Make sure your Christian brothers and sisters are pushing you towards Christ and you are planting seeds of the Gospel in the non-christians in your life. For me this team of people is anchored by the Godly family I have been given and includes close Christian friends. If you don’t have an obvious team–pray for one! Ask God to give you ideas of who might be members of this team and then ask them if they would be willing to come alongside you! This team is especially helpful in fleshing out the details of the rest of the roadmap. They are often the people I give myself to most, and they do the same for me.

Living my life knowing that nothing I do will ever save me, staying in the Word, and being surrounded by Godly people isn’t simply a matter of checking off the boxes and “calling it good.” Rather, these three points are continuous–keeping a firm foundation is part of becoming a better image-bearer of Christ, which is a never ending process. This foundation allows me to confidently jump to the rest of the roadmap, knowing I can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13).

God calls us to live a life worthy of our calling and for the Lord, always giving glory to Him (Eph. 4), so what now? You’ve built and will continue to build a solid foundation, so the next step is figuring out what giving yourself to others looks like. Figuring out what this looks like can often be challenging, but throughout the Bible, God promises that He will act and make our paths straight (Psalm 37:5; Proverbs 3:5–6)! Pray bold prayers–God promises to hear and answer them (Matthew 7:7-11). Pray for direction and ask God to make your next step clear!

However, don’t move towards the next step or responsibility without asking the Lord if you are being diligent with the ones He has already given you. Luke 16:10 tells us that one who is faithful in very little is also faithful in much. Faithfulness in a lot of little things adds up to a big thing, so don’t be surprised when being diligent with what God has already given you takes a lot of time, energy, resources, and sanctification. What does diligence and faithful obedience look like in your God-given roles (being a Christian, daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, church member, employee, boss, etc.)?
Being diligent and faithful does not mean being perfect. I often ask myself whether or not I’m pushing brothers and sisters in Christ towards Him and whether or not I’m trying to share the Gospel with non-Christians. If you’re unsure whether you’re being faithful and diligent in your God-given responsibilities, don’t be afraid to ask your trusted team of people I mentioned earlier!

If you’re being diligent to the best of your abilities, take the next step God gives you. Pray that God gives you clarity on what that next step is and that He equips you with the wisdom and skills to do that task well to His Glory.

As you look to God for the next step, ask yourself whether you’re equipped with the skills needed for the upcoming stage in your life. This could be preparing to be a student, employee, boss, wife, mother or grandmother. If you aren’t prepared, work on those skills. Titus 2 calls older women to mentor younger women – how cool is that? Find a Godly mentor with the skills you are lacking and diligently watch and learn from her. While receiving wisdom from her, try to help out where you can to assist her with her duties. This can be as simple as helping her fold the laundry while you chat!

For me, preparing for the next stage looks like giving myself to the church, mentoring younger girls, helping my siblings with their kids or watching others run their households, seeing both Godly examples to follow and ungodly examples to run from. Being single gives me more time and energy to choose what I spend time, energy, and money on. Those who are married don’t have this flexibility and although it is my desire to be married, I know God has graciously gifted me this time of singleness to bless those who are around me as much as I can.

The next part of my roadmap is something I’m very passionate about–people. Specifically, giving myself to others. Giving to others is seen frequently throughout the Bible, yet it gets run over in today’s age of self-love. John 15:13 says “greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends”. Christ died for us and calls us to do the same for those around us. To do this, start by asking a few questions:

First, what has God placed in your path? God has called each of us to serve. Every week in this series, we have seen how each woman has a different calling within faithful obedience. I have always felt called to the people God has placed directly in my path; this is how the Lord “wired” me. If God has called you to be a missionary in Timbuktu and your top priority is the tribe that you are serving, glory be to God. If God has allowed cancer to take over your body, again, glory be to God. If God has given you four little souls under four years old to change diapers for, to disciple, to love, yet again, glory be to God. It’s important to examine your sphere of influence and who we are called to serve. For now, I know that I’m called to help equip the Saints and share the Gospel with unbelievers that God has placed specifically in my path such as my immediate and extended family, church, friends, coworkers, clients, and acquaintances that I spend time with on a regular basis (i.e. bible study group, members of various sports teams, neighbors, etc.). These categories are very malleable–there have been times when I spend most of my time with an acquaintance or when a specific friend needs me more than my family does.

Second, what does it look like to give yourself to others above and beyond the responsibilities God has given you? Before answering this, I think it’s important to know the skills you have. Are there things you do that don’t feel like work? Things that come naturally and often bring you joy? Is there something or someone God continues to place on your heart? Something you notice that blesses you when present, but the lack of it bothers you? This could be childcare, cooking, crafts, event planning, communicating, creative thinking, problem-solving, organization/administrative work, networking, including others, empathy, cleaning, car maintenance, medical skills, gardening or landscaping, budgeting, reading, studying, laundry, or other household items. I love what Doug Wilson had to say about this in a recent sermon:

“Recognize that when you see a need, this is not given to you so that you might blame everybody else for not meeting it. Your ability to identify a need should be taken by you as an indication from God on what you ought to be doing. If you look around at the body, and see a bunch of discouraged saints, then perhaps you have the gift of encouragement. If you see doctrinal ignorance, then perhaps you have the gift of teaching. If you see dirty bathrooms, perhaps you have the gift of helps.”

 

This doesn’t just apply to the church – it applies to all areas of life! God has given me a certain set of skills, ones that are unique to me. He has given you a certain set of unique gifts also. Use the skills God has given you. God equips each one of us differently for His Glory and to His Glory. The body of Christ needs every part of the body – we can’t all be ears or eyes. If you aren’t sure about the gifts God has given to you – check with the people who know you best. What do they say?

What it looks like to give myself to others is something that ebbs and flows. Sometimes we are on the receiving end: a friend is working hard to bless us. What a gift! Other times, we are on the giving end and we have the opportunity to be that blessing to someone in need. Again, what a gift! In both circumstances–whether giving blessing or receiving blessing or a combination of both–we are called to be faithful and thankful.
I fail in many things, and often could live this roadmap out much better than I do. There are opportunities to serve that I pridefully look over, or that I’m blind to. There are also times that I serve and God allows me to fall flat on my face! Giving ourselves to others is often hard, but this is one of the things I love about life: we can’t do anything on our own. We need to fully surrender ourselves to Christ and, oddly, there is so much comfort and confidence in that. It’s sacrifice, it’s laying down your life, it’s often enduring hardship, but it’s also important Gospel work.

Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ and when we have a firm foundation, we can confidently live our lives for the glory of Christ, whether on the giving end or receiving end of His perfect blessing. I think faithful obedience can be summed up simply: pursue hard after Christ first and foremost, and then work to make an impact for the Kingdom in what God calls you to–pursue the people God puts in your path, giving yourself to them with the skills God has given you.

Now of course for most of us, none of these concepts are mind blowing or new– we’ve heard that we ought to be in the Word, surround ourselves with Godly men and women, and give ourselves to others. But often the most obvious, basic truths are the ones we most easily forget–everyone wants to change the world for Christ, but no one wants to be faithful in the little, nitty-gritty, often hard things. But what I’m telling you is the way to change the world is to do exactly that: be faithful in all things.
All for His Glory and to His Glory!

Emily Abens (With help from my team of absolutely wonderful God fearing and faithful people whom I love and cherish dearly. They help me stay faithful and help me follow and flesh out this roadmap on a daily basis.)

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Faithful Obedience by Lydia Bowman

I love how God, in His Providence, brings people together. A couple of years ago my family had the opportunity to host Lydia and her family for a few days in our home in Mexico City. Their visit was a true gift for us; we enjoyed sharing good meals and wonderful conversations with them. Since then, Lydia and I  have become really good friends, and God has blessed us with all this magical technology to make our friendship grow so that we are able to talk about our favorite thing in the world: The Word of God!

I am happy to have Lydia Bowman on the blog today to share with us a very important thing about how to live in faithful obedience to God. I am sure you will find her words encouraging.

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Faithful Obedience: A Silent Work
by Lydia Bowman

Often in life, faithful obedience is a silent work, hidden from human eyes. It’s an everyday living for Jesus. It’s a heart enraptured with the beauty of the Lord and a mind captive to the truth of God’s Word. Occasionally, you get those public opportunities to say to the king, “I will not bow the knee to that statue,” but usually, we are called to obey in our hearts and minds and in smaller, every day, not so public moments. I have found this truth to be more evident to me in the last seven years since being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Crohn’s. At the beginning, when I was first really sick, we had many thoughtful cards, offers of help, and even meals for our young family of six. But let’s be real. Nobody actually wants to keep talking about digestive issues or stomach ulcers or those “poop subjects.” Even the close friends and family who still remember to ask how I’m feeling or if my Crohn’s is flaring up, are not there day in and day out. And that is okay. Many people are loving and supportive of me, but they aren’t called to walk this path. I am. Even my dear, godly husband sometimes just looks at me bewildered, trying to understand but not able to enter in. At times, I am called to walk this path without any earthly companions. The biggest struggle during those seasons is guarding my mind. Being faithfully obedient in this life God has called me to means daily taking my thoughts under control by the power of Christ through the truth of His Word.

One spring a couple of years ago, my health was particularly low. I had been battling a Crohn’s flare, and then I got strep throat that turned into an abscessed tonsil. If you’ve never had an abscessed tonsil, it makes you not even want to swallow your own saliva because that feels like swallowing glass. I’ve had four unmedicated childbirths with back labor, and I told my husband that this hurt worse than all of those. I lay in my bed unable to function or do any normal motherly duties. I was having a bit of a pity party for myself. I had my phone next to my bed, and I clicked on my audio Bible to continue playing the next chapter in the Bible plan I had been listening to. It started to play Matthew 6. The words jumped out at me, not once but twice in that chapter. “Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before you ask Him”; “Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.” Two thoughts came rushing to my mind. First, that I wasn’t alone. My Father knew what was going on. This thought, not new to me, had been reiterated in Scriptures I had read and sung for years, but that day, this reminder was like a life line to my weary soul. And then secondly, and even more strongly, the words “Your Father knoweth you have need of all these things” took on a new meaning. My Father knew I needed this abscessed tonsil. My Father knew I needed Crohn’s. He was faithful and good to give me these things. He, in His all-wise and all-loving ways, has given me what was needed to purify me, to make me a “vessel for the finer.” These good gifts, yes good, God put in my life to tear from me any confidence in self and to teach me to lean solely on the Rock who alone can support and comfort me. I do not need the sympathy of friends; I need Christ. Other helpers, however good they are, will fail because they are human. Christ will not fail. The Puritan Isaac Ambrose wrote, “Only Christ is the whole of man’s happiness, the Sun to enlighten him, the Physician to heal him, the Wall of fire to defend him, the Friend to comfort him, the Pearl to enrich him, the Ark to support him, the Rock to sustain him under the heaviest pressures.” That day God graciously enabled me through the systematic reading of His Word to bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Only a fresh sight of my kind God was sufficient to enable me to be faithful to Him with my thoughts.

Faithful obedience doesn’t always look like something on the outside. Sometimes it is in the quiet, inward moments of the dark nights of sorrow or loss or pain when we must obey God by battling for our minds. We cannot, dear sisters, in those times when we might feel discouraged or alone, sit down and have a cup of tea with sinful thoughts like “God doesn’t love me” or “He doesn’t care.” We must inwardly stand up and walk away from unworthy thoughts of our God. We must remember that He is good, only good. He is just, always. He is unfailingly faithful. We must fight the good fight of and for faith. We must trust His Word and recount His promises, asking the Lord for help in obeying Him with our thoughts. His grace and strength alone can enable any of us to gain victory over fearful, unloving, or selfish thoughts. Instead of bowing the knee to the idol of pity or the idol of self-indulgence or the idol of unbelief, preach truth to yourself, this truth: the Father knows. He knows you have need of ALL these things.

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You can read the introduction to this series here, where you will also find the index to this series.

Faithful Obedience by Meredith Wilson

Every time I cross paths with my friend Meredith she is always smiling and always ready to say a word of encouragement to those around her. You will always find her whenever help was needed and always saying the words a trusted friend will always say, “I will be praying.”

I am grateful to have Meredith Wilson share with us today a word of encouragement on how Faithful Obedience looks like in the empty nester years.

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Faithful Obedience in the Empty Nester years
by Meredith Wilson

I came to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ at the age of nineteen. While the early years were rocky, the Lord is faithful and he has placed me on solid ground. I am grandmother now, with four grown children. Three of them are married, and in September my eighth grandchild will arrive.

It has been delightful to watch my children grow up, and a blessing to have them as friends and best company now. My single daughter is such a friend and I love to hang out with her. Her life is busy and I try to keep up with all that is going on. I try to be a faithful friend to her and to my other children, praying for them in their new roles as husbands, wives, mothers, and fathers and praying for their spouses as well.

When my eldest daughter was married, they lived nearby for a year. Then she and her husband and my first grandchild moved to Britain. Flying to the United Kingdom was not in our budget, so I immediately began work cleaning houses and later worked for a small book company. This has allowed me to travel to see them. I have actually been to England sixteen times in the last ten years. I’ve been able to help with the births of each of my grandchildren. What a blessing. My second daughter has lived in Canada for the last five years. I have been there for the births of her children too.

While I would choose being closer to my daughters, this is the Lord’s will for them and I must align my will with his. I need to be content and not grumble. And the Lord has truly blessed this. I love being a grandmother. I feel very close to all the grandkids. We FaceTime or talk all the time. I try to be involved in my daughters lives so that it is as if they have never left town.

There was a period of time where it looked like my daughter’s family in Britain would be coming to live in Idaho. I was so excited, could this be possible? While I prayed it would happen, and in my heart was hoping to never have to fly again to England, I also knew it was an opportunity to trust God and praise him even if the answer was no. I remember telling my daughter that no matter the outcome, we needed to be content and thankful. We will have all eternity with our children and grandchildren. What a mercy! It’s important to have this long view of God’s story.

I think it’s also important to pray for my grandchildren as they grow up. I have several verses in my bible that I pray for each of them. Our heavenly father loves our grandchildren more than we do, and it is a privilege to lift them up to his throne.

One of the blessings of the empty nester years is the opportunity to re-evaluate your relationship with your husband. Am I still thinking about how to please him in our home? Am I cooking his favorite meals? What does he like to do on his days off? Am I joining him? Is he still my best friend? I have always appreciated my husband’s friendship. Make the most of this time.

Now that I am no longer working, I have spent time in prayer asking the Lord how he wants to use me. It has made me realize that there are certain things I wish I’d cultivated when I was younger. But I can’t go back, so I have been asking God how I can serve him. I love to be busy but I want to be fruitful. I am reminded of Psalm 90:17, “Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us and establish the work of our hands upon us, yes, the work of our hands establish thou it.”

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Find the introduction and the index to this series here.