Several years ago, I was living in a different city, struggling in seemingly every area of my life, and so over-stressed that I was having panic attacks.
In the middle of a panic attack so severe that it lasted several days, I felt God tell me that I was supposed to volunteer at the youth group at my home church.
A youth group I’d never once attended as a youth that was 100 miles away from where I was currently living.
To say I felt unqualified would be an understatement.
I felt more qualified to be a forensic scientist. And I barely made it through high school chemistry.
Why on earth would God want me to do that? I’m the last person who should be a volunteer since I didn’t even go there MYSELF when I was a teenager. I’m a terrible example! They wouldn’t want ME there. I must’ve heard wrong, I told myself.
Only I knew I hadn’t.
God hadn’t spoken to me very many times in my life, but I knew this one was him.
It didn’t stop me from “discussing” it with him, though.
“For starters, God,” I began, “I don’t even live there!”
“You know you’re not where you’re supposed to be,” he shot back.
He was right. I’d just recently come to the realization that I needed to leave my job. Its negative effects on my health, coupled with an overall feeling of not-right-ness, told me it was time to leave.
My bank account, however, convinced me to stay longer. I knew I had a few months of rent left on a lease I couldn’t get out of, so instead of trusting God to cover it, I stayed at the place I knew I was supposed to leave longer than I was supposed to. My health worsened, my anxiety got more intense than I even knew was possible, and my conscience was driving me nuts.
Finally, I obeyed.
I quit my job, moved back in with my parents, and paid an extra month’s rent on an apartment I no longer lived in.
And then I did nothing.
“Okay, God, ” I negotiated. “If I really heard you right, if you REALLY want me to volunteer, make someone ask me.”
Nobody singled me out. Nobody said a word about needing volunteers. I didn’t have one conversation with anybody involved. Nothing.
Sigh. “Okay, fine, God. I’ll volunteer if there’s a sign-up day at church where they’re recruiting new people. If there’s a table set up somewhere, I’ll casually go up to them and probably, maybe sign up for whatever’s open.”
For a whole year, it never happened. They weren’t asking for any volunteers, period.
I knew God was waiting for me to obey – not just in something that was easy for me, but in something that would make me take a risk for him.
But I didn’t do it. I was afraid. I felt guilty every single day for a long time.
Eventually the burden almost left me.
And then, nearly three years later, I took a different risk and started attending my church’s young adult group. There I befriended someone who happened to be a youth intern. One day, she was in the middle of a conversation with someone else across the room when all of a sudden, her head popped up, she looked straight at me, and she loudly proclaimed, “YOU would be a great youth leader!”
My eyes got like saucers. How did she know?!
Eventually I realized that she probably didn’t. She just spoke something God had been telling me for years and put in her mind right at that moment.
That week, at 27 years old, I walked into a youth group for the first time in my life.
I’ve been walking through those doors every Wednesday night for a few years now, but it took almost three years of disobedience before I finally did what I knew I was supposed to do.
Honestly? There are days I don’t feel like I’m having a ton of impact. Some days I do. But oftentimes I don’t.
Time after time, though, when I feel like I’m having zero impact, something happens to prove that I am. A middle-schooler texts me. A girl I’ve never talked to follows me on social media. Another student confides in me about her parents’ divorce.
To be completely honest with you, I believe that I was supposed to volunteer several years ago at that specific time for a reason. I think there were people there I was supposed to connect with, girls I was maybe supposed to influence, students who needed my specific story right then and there.
And I failed them. I was disobedient to God, and I may never know the consequences that not only I, but others, suffered because of my disobedience.
But you know what’s so crazy? How many of those people I’ve connected with later in other ways. I can count a number of girls who would’ve been at that youth group way back then, when I was supposed to be there, who are now friends of mine. Whom I’ve gotten to know through other avenues, or who’ve even reached out to me out of the blue. There are several of them, and to me it proves that even when I disobey, God’s plan can still prevail.
It might not be as easy as it should’ve been, it might not be at the time it should’ve started, but he can still work things out the way he intended them to work out. I probably would’ve been living a much happier, more blessed, less anxious life back then if I would have obeyed immediately. And I’ll never know, but I could’ve had an impact on some students back then that I can’t now.
But God took my disobedience and he gave me another chance in more ways than one. Not only did he give me another chance – and the one I asked for, literally – to volunteer, but he still found ways to connect me with people I’d missed the first few years.
God can and does work ALL things for good.
But I can tell you from experience that his plan works best when you listen and obey the first time. ☺️
I wish I would have obeyed immediately, but I didn’t. I know just as well as you probably do that “delayed obedience” actually just means “disobedience.” I suffered the consequences for mine and others likely did, too.
Don’t be like me. If God is telling you to do something and you haven’t done it, DO IT. Obey. If he has placed something on your heart, be obedient.
Your obedience has the power to affect your future and that of countless others. Don’t miss your window. Don’t make it harder on yourself than God wants it to be.
Obey, and you will be blessed. I’ve seen so much blessing that follows obedience, and I’ve missed out on some I would have and should have seen, too.
Take it from me and take the blessed route. Obedience is so worth it. And God will reward you richly for your obedience to him!
Obedience –> blessing.