Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Obedience is Required

Since I was little, I have often been prompted to obey the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, there is no other lesson to be learned other than being obedient.

Why does God ask us to be obedient?
What purpose does an "obedience only" lesson provide?

Have you ever heard how military personnel are trained? Do you know how rigorous their exercises are, and how repetition is key?
Why are the sergeants so strict and "mean"?
How come they're always shouted at to comply?
Why is there absolute order?

My dad was explaining to me in my youth that a fighter pilot, in the BLINK OF AN EYE, must be able to follow a command. It would mean life or death. If you're flying up in the air, and you hear your superior speak into your ear, "EJECT!" There cannot be even a moment's hesitation. You follow the order. You eject. 
Even if you don't know why.
Even if you don't sense danger.
Even when you don't see the bigger picture.

God can be our superior. HE can see the bigger picture. He knows the why. He sense the danger we don't always sense. When He says "EJECT", we must obey.

As a small girl, I was having a sleepover at a friend's home. In the middle of the night, I woke up and felt a strong desire to go home. It was strange. I'd had many playdates with this friend. My mother obviously felt comfortable enough to let me stay the night over there, even though we came from different backgrounds and beliefs. There was no visible danger. I have no idea why, to this day, I was prompted to wake up my friend, who then woke up her mother, and ask if I could call my mom to go home. My mom came and got me and that friend's mom then forbade us from ever having sleepovers again ;) I'm sure it was very inconvenient for the mother and my friend. Nonetheless, there was a reason the Spirit needed me to obey. It may have just been a lesson of obedience, for I don't know what could have possibly gone wrong...

In another situation, I was asked to obey God because OF IMMINENT DANGER. In my first marriage, there was a lot of addiction and abuse coming from my spouse. I did not believe in divorce. I would NOT. It didn't fit my idea of an "eternal marriage". Nor did I think any marriage was perfect. Isn't that what enduring to the end means? Long-suffering? Helping one another make it to the end despite struggles?

The marriage was so unhealthy and became a danger to my safety. I was prompted by the Spirit, time and time again, to leave.
I ignored it.
EJECT! the Lord said.
I questioned whether it was really the Lord or the adversary.
EJECT! he would calmly cry. EJECT! EJECT! Brittany, EJECT!

One day, a stranger gave me a priesthood blessing and confirmed my darkest fear.
"Guard your womb."
I finally obeyed.

Even thought I could see the danger and knew the threats, I wasn't willing to listen...It seems so odd and counterproductive for the Lord to advise one of His children to end an eternal marriage, yet, He did so for me and I've since learned He does so frequently for OTHERS.

Why? What lesson was I to learn?
I'm not a quitter.
I don't take my covenants lightly.
So, why?

God had a greater plan for me. "My eternal plan of happiness" required me to go through that experience, yes, but not to stay in it forever. It shaped me and refined me, and taught me principles I wouldn't have otherwise learned.
As I left, I was comforted knowing "Divorce is not the end."
I had quite a bit of hope that we could reconcile later, that the divorce was simply a consequence that had to be implemented due to the hazardous behaviors of my spouse. That didn't mean repentance wasn't possible and that we couldn't maybe later get back together.
That was NOT what God had planned for me.

It took me a long time to come to terms with this new "failure", and later see it as a HUGE accomplishment. The next few years I would weave through painful healing processes, that eventually led me to the man I was supposed to marry and start a family with at this stage in my life. If I hadn't gone through my first marriage, I wouldn't have become the patient, calm, peace-keeping woman I am today. I wouldn't have met the man I'm married to, either, for it was in a dark place of self-loathing and wayward "activities" that our paths crossed. We were both roaming...seeking solace. I knew IMMEDIATELY he was going to be the father of my children.

With this knowledge, I still face trials in my life. My marriage isn't always easy. We're still two opposite people trying to live side-by-side, congruently. We still wake up and face Satan and his servants who put contention and conflict in our path. There are times God asks me to serve my husband when I'm most angry. I don't want to. I don't think its what I deserve, just like I don't think I deserved to be the one who threw in the towel on my first marriage after giving it my absolute ALL and then some. Yet, I know God wants me to be obedient. It isn't always for my spouse's benefit that I'm asked to do these things. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it's just for me. Sometimes its for both of us. AND OUR KIDS!
We won't make it through this life without the same problems every other marriage faces, but they are made "easy" because we listen to God and obey. I'm so happy with my life now. I CAN'T imagine it any other way. Including being asked to "eject", and going through my first flight that "crashed and burned."

This generation is scourged with wickedness. It hurts me. Physically, emotionally, spiritually.
I see broken hearts more than I see whole ones.
(I'm not trying to be pessimistic)
We aren't pushing handcarts across a frozen country, but our hearts are being blackened by the frost of the Devil's bite. It's an ugly, bloody battle out there...
but if we listen, if we obey, we may just hear the commands of an all-powerful, all-knowing, loving God, saying, "EJECT!"
I promise you, dear child, I am in control. You are in my hands. Listen to me now. Eject. It is for your own good. You will fulfill your purpose by following my will. Let the Spirit guide you. It may save you from further agony, and help you bear up your current burdens. It will be a comfort during the hardships I ask you to face. Trust me.
Obedience is such an interesting thing, and it was easier for me to understand once I had kids.
"Don't go into the street!" I shout.
"Don't touch that, it's hot." I caution.
"Be nice to one another!" I admonish.

My kids might not yet understand all the why's, but someday they will. As they grow and learn and experience.

We already know who wins the war, it's just a matter of choosing whose side to be on.
Have we ever paused to consider WHY so many horrible acts of terrorism occur--and perhaps is there a correlation between them and the natural disasters AND the political divide in a chosen people?
I began to wonder if the Lord sees all the hatred among people. The racism the nationalism the sexism...after asking and pleading and COMMANDING us to be loving, accepting, compassionate, and we refuse, if He then visits us with a force of nature that compels us to reach out and serve. When disaster strikes, people put differences aside. They don't care about color or financial circumstances...they help one another. When tragedy strikes, people actually COME TOGETHER.
How ironic is it that the beautiful freedoms of our country that include political presidential elections can TEAR people and love to pieces, and yet mass shootings and hurricanes that TEAR homes and cities to pieces coincidentally draw people closer together?

I may not always know why, or see a clear picture, but I have total faith that when the Lord asks, He is asking because He knows what I need.
My promptings aren't always loud. They're rarely life-changing.
Most of the time they're something like, "Go down this aisle at the grocery store."
"Send _____ a hello text."
"Smile at that stranger."
"Read this article."
"Don't yell."
However great or small, my acts of obedience are carving virtue into my frame. The results soften the fabric of my soul. They strengthen me.
It is then that I am prompted to try and help another, to lift them up, to share my experiences, to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those in need of comfort.
I promise. As scary as it may seem, as far as the fall my appear, frightening as the unknown will be, and as painful as the choice could become, everything will be okay if you trust in your superior.