When you’re growing up, parents have this natural tendency to tell us to do things we don’t want to do. It’s just a given. And without fail, when you ask them why they give that dreaded answer of “because I said so” or “because I’m the parent.” But the thing is, as we get older and wiser, we can see that in the end those things were more often than not for our benefit. When they asked us to do what was best for us, it was never just a way for them to mess with us or be in control - even if we couldn’t see that in the moment. Often, following God looks the same. He calls you to something you don’t want to do, and when you ask why, his answer tends to be vague or hard to understand. Sometimes when He answers, it’s not the one you want to hear, leading you to disregard His word altogether. But there’s assurance in the fact that no matter where He leads you, He will remain faithful.
2 Thessalonians 3:3 says, “but the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” He isn’t going to lead you down this path to emptiness, or death, or any number of bad things. He will uphold you. He will protect you against the attacks of the enemy. He will guide you and guard your heart. But just like with your parents in the past: in the moment you can’t see the good things that will come out of God’s will, so you get caught up in the idea of not wanting to follow Him. In the times where God is calling you some place that you don’t want to follow, it’s important to look back at the times where He’s been faithful in the past. Look at the Israelites in Exodus: God delivered them from the Egyptians, He performed miracles including parting the Red Sea to let them cross, yet they did not want to follow into the wilderness for fear that He wouldn’t provide for them in their wandering. God told them, though, “behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you” (Exodus 16:4). He proved Himself faithful time and time again, yet they succumbed to fear rather than faith that He would carry them through the things He was calling them to. They did not know then that the manna He provided would be exactly what they needed to sustain them, but God called them to faithfulness and gave them the tools they needed to survive. Eventually, they did follow Him, and despite their mistakes and shortcomings, God made a covenant with the people of Israel and brought them into righteousness.
The process of following God isn’t always going to be a glamorous time. Sometimes it will look like eating bread day in and day out while wandering for 40 years through the wilderness. It will feel bland and unexciting. But over and over again, we are reminded that if we seek first the Kingdom and follow the Lord, we will reap a great reward in Heaven. I’m not telling you to only follow God for the things He will give you. Instead, sometimes you just have to humble yourself. You’ve got to suck it up and follow God into the unknown, into the wilderness, in order for you to come out on the other side with God’s grace and the blessings He promises to those who follow him. In the times when that is hard, however, keep this verse in your heart, put it on your mirror, write it on every notebook/journal you have in your possession, do whatever you need to do to remember the words it says: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him, and he will act” (Psalm 37:4-5).
The more that you seek out God, the more time you spend in His presence, following His callings on your life, the more your heart and your desires will align with His own. It may be difficult now to see the purpose He is calling you to, it may be hard to want to follow Him into the dark and desolate-looking places. But He has begun a process within you that He will carry out until His day of completion. He will not abandon you if you fall back or behind. He will guide you through this calling and provide you with the tools you need to follow Him. It won’t always be easy, but it will be fulfilling, and you will be told some day, “well done, my good and faithful servant.”
So, keep pressing forward. Pick up those crosses you want to leave standing. Die to yourself and follow God. It will be the most worthwhile task you will take in this life.
Author | Emma Whitmer