I've just started a wonderful Bible study by Priscilla Shirer on the book of Jonah. I was fascinated to take this study because I've never heard of a study on that book, and because Priscilla's anointed teachings during last summer's Anointed Transformed Redeemed study were so inspiring.
But I didn't expect to relate to Jonah so much. The study is all about how we think God's "interruptions" mess up our plans, yet actually these interruptions give us the opportunity to partner with God in the plans He specifically designed us for. So far, the lessons have challenged me to examine my life for areas where I'm running from God, areas where I've been disobedient.
Today's lesson really hit home: "There's no gray area in obeying God.... You don't have an array of options to choose from on how you will respond.... Choosing to 'do nothing' is really a decision to delay obedience--and the word for delayed obedience? Disobedience."
When I read that last sentence, my mind went back to the instructions God had given me a couple of days ago--which I still hadn't obeyed. And then I thought back to the first time He had given me those same instructions, a couple of weeks ago.
I was listening to a Christian radio station while I worked one day, and they were conducting a drive to raise funds for Compassion International's Water For Life program. For $55, you could provide a family in Haiti with a water filter that would produce clean water for life. I learned that in Haiti diarrhea is the leading cause of death in small children, and my heart went out to these families. I pictured my little Allyson suffering chronic diarrhea, dehydration, and malnutrition, and it broke my heart.
I should give, I thought each time the promotional ran again. But I didn't do it. Maybe I'll look at the budget later and see where I can fit it in, I thought. Then again, we were already supporting our church, and we had recently started sponsoring a little Indian girl named Saniya. Wasn't that enough? Sure this was a good cause, but you can't give to every good cause, right?
Fast forward to this past Tuesday morning, when I woke up at 5:00 with severe diarrhea and nausea. I spent the entire day and evening propped in a chair, perfectly still, trying to avoid throwing up--when I wasn't on the toilet. As soon as I realized I was sick, I reminded God I was supposed to be leading the first Bible study discussion at my table that evening. "I really need to be there, God. Please, please make this go away," I prayed. But I soon realized I needed to find someone else to lead the study.
It dawned on me that this was an interruption to my plans, just like Priscilla was talking about in the study. "What is the purpose in this, God? Why did I have to be sick today?" I asked. The answer came to me that night as I squirmed in my chair and tried to settle in for the night. I thought back to the children in Haiti and around the world who are DYING from diarrhea. Here I sat, moaning and whining over one day of discomfort while they suffered on without relief.
"Okay, God," I said. "I'm sorry I didn't obey when you first laid it on my heart. I'm going to get up tomorrow and find that Compassion website and send the money." It occurred to me then that I should write a blog entry about the experience, but I shrugged it off. No one wants to read about my diarrhea revelations, I reasoned.
So why am I talking about the unmentionable now? Because Priscilla got me again this morning. Immediately upon sitting down to enjoy my quiet time, I realized that more than 24 hours had passed, but I still hadn't obeyed God and sent that $55. "I'll do it!" I assured God, and I kept reading. At the end of the lesson, I had to talk with God about which ambitions, goals, people, and ideals have claimed more of my commitment than He does. One of them was our budget.
"Oh, forgive me, God!" I prayed. "I don't ever want to say I can't give because I have other priorities for the money you've given us."
I determined to find that website as soon as I finished with my quiet time. But then Priscilla's words echoed in my mind: "The word for delayed obedience? Disobedience."
So I went straight up to the computer and sent the money via a link on the Compassion International website. Take a look for yourself, and if God lays it on your heart, maybe you'll want to send a filter too. Just don't wait for a bout of diarrhea to help you make up your mind!