I worked through Henry Blackaby’s classic study, Experiencing God, as a young pastor’s wife and it made a tremendous difference to my spiritual life. Truthfully, it didn’t happen right away. God allowed some tough circumstances to use the spiritual truths I had learned as a way to remodel my spiritual choices.
In one chapter, Blackaby wrote, “We don’t choose what we will do for God; He invites us to join Him where He wants to involve us.”
I’m not sure if I thought that message was for other people or if I thought being married to a preacher meant I had already done that, but I heard those words a couple of years before I actually received them as truth for my own walk with the Lord.
That one lesson, once learned, changed the rest of my spiritual journey.
A good life isn’t necessarily a godly life
I really wanted to be a good preacher’s wife, a good mom, and a good person. I thought if those things were my goals, at least I would be going in the right directions. I stayed busy working hard and volunteering for service. I tried to attend as many things at the church as I could, believing that to be my ministry. I was faithful to go to a ladies Bible study each week because I knew I needed to learn more Scripture. I went to bed tired but feeling like God must be pleased with what I was attempting to do.
Then we moved to Atlanta and I found I was very allergic to some things out there. That October, allergies led to sniffles, then a bad cough, which I was “too busy” to worry about. I had promised to step into my son’s third-grade class one day so his teacher could go to her daughter’s school program. I taught the class and was walking home when I realized I didn’t have enough air to get up the hill.
I eventually made it, called the doctor, and asked for a prescription. He told me to get to the hospital as soon as I could. As it turned out, I had the same pneumonia that had killed Jim Henson a few months earlier. The doctor told me I probably only had a few days left before the medications would not have worked.
It took a month to get well but, as it turned out, it was one of the best months of my life. I learned a lesson that has carried me ever since.
Our spiritual journey is not measured by the good things we decide to do for God and others. Instead, it is about knowing God’s plan and calling and living in obedience to that.
The knowledge that makes all the difference
I sat in my recliner for almost a month trying to allow my lungs to heal. Atlanta was beautiful in October. The leaves rained down with brilliant color, and I watched them and thought about God. After a lot of thinking, praying, and listening, I realized that this life of busy attendance wasn’t because I was obeying God’s expectations. I was honoring others’ expectations instead.
I was grateful to God for saving my stubborn life. I watched the beauty of this world float by outside my window and realized that all I thought about serving God hadn’t worked out very well. I could have died and left Jim with two young boys to raise. I could have harmed others while all the while I thought I was “helping.”
At the end of a month of recuperation and spiritual regeneration, I finally came to understand that Blackaby’s words weren’t just a lesson to hear. I needed, as Blackaby would say, to adjust my life to what God had planned it to be. I made a commitment to God to do that.
If you want to experience God
I pulled my Experiencing God workbook off of the shelf and reread it. I realized that I had written the right answers on the lines and had added important thoughts from others in the margin. But I just hadn’t made the choice to allow the knowledge to alter my choices.
- I needed to experience the Holy Spirit in my life.
- I needed to hear the Bible speak God’s voice into my life.
- I needed to tell some people no in order to tell God yes.
- I needed to learn to notice what God was doing in the world and “get in on it.”
- I needed to obey God’s word so that I could know God and completely trust him as my King.
That is just some of what the Lord taught me during those days and months that followed. Sanctification takes a lifetime, but it only begins when we realize it isn’t about what we do; it’s about allowing God to do his work in and through our lives.
If we want to experience the reality of God, we must step fully into the knowledge that only he is God and everything else is only an attempt to become a god in our lives. (By the way, that is the work of Satan.) We don’t know how to serve God and others until we come to learn the value of simply being available to God so that he can serve others through our life as we are yielded to his Spirit.
Is it good or is it God?
The lessons I learned during that season of my spiritual life led me down roads I would never have imagined.
- Eventually, I knew God wanted me to teach a ladies Bible study.
- Eventually, I came to recognize the silent but audible voice of God’s leadership.
- I began to do some public speaking based on what I had learned.
- Eventually, I wrote a book and titled it Content to be Good, Called to be Godly.
- Now I am serving at Denison Ministries as the Lord continues to lead.
Please know, I don’t say any of that from a place of pride. The list above is what God accomplished, not me. I would have filled my life with good things that I wanted to do for God. I learned that my life was simply to be a conduit for what God wanted to do through his Holy Spirit within me.
Now, I just want to share with others one of the most important lessons God ever taught me. Truthfully, it took a bad bout of pneumonia to get me to listen. Maybe this blog post can save someone else from learning this the hard way.
Is your life filled with good things, or is your life a list of things God has done through your obedience to his Spirit-led call in your life?
Blackaby wrote, “We don’t choose what we will do for God; He invites us to join Him where He wants to involve us.”
Are those words something you believe or the truth you live?
Your answer will make all the difference in your spiritual journey.