surrender

When Small Acts of Obedience Lead to Great Impact

quote on obedience with marbelized pink background

What began as a major inconvenience turned into a beautiful blessing adding purpose to my monotonous days and revealing God’s tender heart.

We were living in Southern California at the time. My husband worked long hours, traveled a lot, and I often felt lonely, insignificant, and unseen. As a stay-at-home mom, I wanted something exciting, something “important” to do.

I was not looking for more ways to “mother”, but that was precisely what happened. One afternoon, an acquaintance called needing an after school ride for her daughter. Thinking this was a one-time occurrence, I agreed, only to receive another call, then another.

I grew frustrated and felt taken advantage of. Soon, I attached all sorts of assumptions to her requests,I thought, “Obviously this woman devalues my time and thinks I spend my days watching television. She should at least pay my gas!”

I never considered that God might have a glorious and eternal plan in it all

A few months later,my perspective changed when the teen began asking questions about God. Then I was able to look back, to filter every boring or frustrating or humbling car ride through the knowledge and discernment that can only come from Christ. I realized He was trying to use me for His important work while doing a seemingly ordinary task.

During our interactions, I learned the girl’s home life was hard, emotionally cold, and painful, her heart broken and her thinking deceived. She desperately craved answers—truth that would heal her soul and bring security to her chaos.

When the teen’ mom first called, I had no idea all her daughter had endured or hoped to find. But God knew, and He placed me in a position to be used by Him. To speak life and hope to someone whose world felt dark and hopeless.

Our obedience—in the big and the small, the exciting and the mundane—leads to eternal impact. Click To Tweet
quote pulled from text with pink, marbelized backgorund

Because that’s how God operates. Scripture reveals this again and again.

The apostle Paul, a Pharisee turned Christ-follower, is one of my favorite examples. He began his missionary journey with one desire: to share the hope that had changed his life. He didn’t really care where he went, nor was he consumed with how others responded. He simply obeyed—immediately and without question.

We see this in Acts 16:6-10, which states “Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phyrgia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them” (NIV, emphasis mine.)

When the Spirit led or redirected him, Paul obeyed.

The result? He planted numerous churches, discipled countless believers, and wrote a good chunk of the New Testament.

Paul is an example not of the power of a great man nor a brilliant ministry strategy but rather an obedient heart. His obedience led to incredible eternal impact and transformation. Click To Tweet

We too are called to significance, not by the measure of achievement, but by faithfully going where God leads.

What is God calling you to do today? Pause to ask Him, then commit to obeying.

Share your action step with us, and if you have any stories demonstrating how God used a simple act of obedience for something eternally significant, share that too, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

Before you go, have you checked out our next Bible reading plan, 20 Days of Relational Health, yet? You can find it HERE.

Our hearts crave deep, lasting connections–to know we are loved and belong. This Bible reading plan will help you Image for Wholly Loved's Relational Health Bible Reading Plangrow in your relationships as you learn to love others well, speak and live in truth, and set the healthy boundaries that will allow your relationships to thrive.

And make sure to connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. Jennifer would love to connect with you on Facebook and Instagram as well.

Faith, obedience, Uncategorized

Do I Trust Myself More Than God?

Do I Trust Myself More than God

Sometimes I put trust in dangerous places.

One day, my husband informed me he wanted to return to the Navy. I’d talked him out of this decision before and felt certain I could again. After all, he was pursuing his college degree, and going back into the military meant saying goodbye to nearly half our income and a comfortable civilian life. Nothing about it made sense, and I told him so.

But then God captured my attention. Has God ever grabbed yours?

When I relayed the situation to our pastor’s wife, she asked if I had prayed about it. Her words—more likely God speaking through her—shook me. I hadn’t. I trusted myself and my logic more than God.

However, seemingly obvious answers aren’t always fueled by God Almighty.

His ways are higher than ours, according to Isaiah 55:8-9. Wisdom finds us seeking our Father’s counsel.

Wisdom finds us seeking our Father's counsel. ~ @Kristi_Woods Click To Tweet

After that divinely-led conversation, I went home and prayed. My strong-willed, rational self intentionally transferred trust to God in that moment. I asked the Lord to show me if He was behind Tony’s decision and to make His will undoubtedly clear.

God responded to that prayer within days.

The answer? Navy.

Day after day, those four letters grabbed my attention from their mount on buildings, signs, and vehicles. It was the wildest thing. Everywhere I turned, “navy” found me.

Soon after, Tony rejoined the Navy. In fact, he made a career of it, retiring in 2013. The Lord showed us much and crossed our paths with many wonderful people during those years. We wouldn’t exchange the journey for anything. God knew best after all!

Relying on ourselves, logical thinking, or statistics looks good on the outside, and trust set there often makes sense at first glance. But God’s ways are higher than ours. He woos and encourages us to rely on Him—the Maker of heaven and earth.

God's ways are higher than ours. ~ @Kristi_Woods Click To Tweet

Proverbs 3:5-6 challenges us to trust in the Lord versus our own understanding. The Bible prompts us to acknowledge God, knowing He—not man—will make our paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6 challenges us to trust in the Lord versus our own understanding. ~ @Kristi_Woods Click To Tweet

When we find ourselves placing confidence in ourselves or others, why not turn to our Father instead? What situations are you facing today that’d be safer set in prayer, relying on God versus man?

Let’s talk about this! Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below, and join our discussion in our Facebook group!
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intentional living, Video Devotion

Taming Our Thoughts

Want to talk more about this video and ways to tame our thoughts? We invite you to join our online community where women are invited to share their struggles, insights, and celebrations in a safe place. This is a “closed” group where only members can see posts shared, and it’s also a place where confidentiality is practiced. We share prayer requests, hurts and insecurities, and ways God is meeting us in our struggles each day. And you’re invited to heal and grow and learn with us!

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obedience

Fearless When Ill-Equipped

woman with sunset behind her and the text of Zech. 4:6

God wants those who belong to Him to be brave and fearless. He Himself shows how weakness of the flesh is overcome by the courage of the Spirit. ~ Tertullian Click To Tweet

I felt squeezed. In every direction. Sleep deprived and with more on my to-do list than I could possibly accomplish, pressing deadlines, and an upcoming speaking engagement I hadn’t begun to prepare for, I felt ready to explode. Or hide.

My brain, held captive by my insecurities and fears, refused to function. When I most needed it to shine.

My fear—that I’d fail, and in failing that I’d let everyone down. The conference director who had already purchased my plane ticket. Her team who had already sent out their promotional material, listing me as one of the keynotes. Their attendees, who had spent good money on the conference and were expecting to hear a fresh word.

And more than that, I was afraid I’d look stupid. As I stared at a blank computer screen, my eyes gritty from lack of sleep, my nerves tightly coiled, I worried I wouldn’t come up with anything.

I had nothing. No words. No thoughts.

I suppose much of that came from mounting stress, and sheer exhaustion. In the middle of taking accelerated classes and with an already booked summer, God called my husband and I to something incredibly difficult. Something that took every ounce of strength we had and left me in tears daily. We knew this task was from God. But … what about all our other commitments?

I couldn’t simply walk away. But neither could I, it seemed, walk forward. My insecurities, my fear of failure, my mounting negative thinking, kept chipping away at my strength.

So what’d I do? I stepped away. To pray. To give this thing, this task I felt ill-equipped and ill-prepared for, to God. And as I sat in His presence, His peace overshadowed my anxiety, and His truth stilled my fears.

I knew He’d called me to this engagement, so I decided—yes. I made the choice to trust God to give me the ability to fill this role--as He desired. And I reminded myself that this wasn't about me. Click To Tweet

quote pulled from post with background image of pastel colorsNor was it up to me. It never is. In fact, it’s when I’m resting fully in His grace and leaning deepest into Him that I find my greatest strength.

This is a choice we all must make, whenever our fears and insecurities begin to turn our ears from God’s call, whatever that call may be.

Consider Francis Chan’s words, taken from Forgotten God:

“How much it grieves [God] to watch His children ignore the promises He’s made. Throughout Scripture due to fear that those promises won’t be kept! Empowering His children with the strength of the Holy Spirit is something the Father wants to do. It’s not something we have to talk Him into. He genuinely wants to see us walk in His strength.”

Walking in God’s strength. Listening, with a surrendered heart, for His guidance, then stepping forward in faith, trusting Him to come through.

Is there something God has called you, something that makes your stomach tighten and your knees wobble? Maybe to initiate conversation with a new neighbor or launch a women’s Bible study? Maybe share your faith with a friend or coworker? If so, how does remembering God will be strong on your behalf, that you don’t have to be, give you courage? What are some ways you can lean into Him and rest in His strength? How do our thoughts play into that?

We all struggle with negative thinking, and so often, we become our own limiting factor. We allow our insecurities and fears to hinder our obedience and to prevent us from living out the awesome and life-changing role God hand-crafted each of us to fill. God calls us to greatness. To live courageously. To be life-changers. Click To Tweet

Join us for one of our Bold and Brave conferences to learn how to live intentionally and courageously. Share your thoughts here in the comments below or engage with us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. And contact us HERE to have our team or one of our speakers join you for your next women’s event.

obedience

The Cost and Blessing of Obedience

Woman sitting on a dock gazing skyward with text pulled from blog post.

When have you heard God’s voice most clearly? When have you most felt His presence? During a time of strength and blessing, or perhaps when life hit hard, you faced a challenging assignment, and you felt ill-equipped and insecure?

Obedience rarely comes easily, but it can lead to the sweetest, most fulfilling blessing–increased intimacy with our Savior.

Consider the introverted, stammering Hebrew named Moses–the man who fled his homeland after what appeared to be a life-altering moral failure–murder. Long gone were the priestly robes he wore while roaming the Pharoah’s palace. Gone also were any dreams of grandeur he may once have entertained. By the time he encountered God one day, through a bush that burned without being consumed, he’d settled into a new way of life. A humble yet peaceful way of life.

God changed everything with one command: Go. Rescue my people from oppression and lead them to a land I’ve long promised.

This so wasn’t what he’d asked for. In fact, he’d debated God, explaining all the reasons he wasn’t the man, begging God to send anyone else. Someone more confident, with more authority, who didn’t stumble over their words or get tongue tied.

God refuted his protests, making it clear, He’d chosen Moses to free the Hebrews—a rebellious, grumbling, stiff-necked people—from oppression and bring them to a place of rest.

This was not the assignment Moses wanted. He was content where he was. He had a family, community, and a shepherding job that had to feed his introverted heart.

But God persisted, and he obeyed.

Fast forward two months. Moses’s assignment had proven profoundly more difficult than he’d feared. Shortly after God had miraculously liberated His people from Egyptian oppression, they forsook Him for gods fashioned from gold—the very gold God had provided.

God’s response: I’m done.

He’d step back from His people, sending His angel to lead them instead. (Ex. 32:33-33:3)

Those protests Moses began his assignment with had to be flooding his brain on replay. Yet, he remained, and Image of Jennifer sitting near the fireplace with text pulled from postin the middle of the hard, beauty unfolded. In desperation, Moses cried out to God, and that was exactly what he received—God Himself.

Isn’t that what our hearts long for most? To encounter God intimately, as not just our ruler, but one in whom we can confide. A friend who knows us deeply and who always has our best in mind? The One who confides in His children. (Ps. 25:14).

Obedience often comes with a cost, but it also comes with a priceless blessing—intimacy with our Creator.

What is God asking of you? How does knowing your obedience paves the way to close, unhindered friendship with Christ encourage you to surrender?

Oftentimes, obedience feels scary and involves risk. But Christ has given us the courage and strength to obey with boldness and bravery, whatever the situation. Join us for our next Bold and Brave Conference to learn how to overcome fear with faith and embrace the life God has for you. Visit Bethany Elkhorn’s website to learn more, and register before Sept. 22nd to snatch their early bird discount.

Contact Jennifer HERE to book the Wholly Loved speakers for your next women’s event.