It’s about time I write this one. For the last three and half days I’ve been laying in bed healing from my recent wisdom teeth surgery, and I’ve been “trying” to get as much sleep as possible. Mostly because my face is the size of a basketball and sleeping has provided some comfort. However, this feeling of being lazy and this idea of dangerous obedience I’ve meant to unpack now for a while, so I figure now is a better time than ever to introduce it. Let me first say this story you’re about to read is true. I haven’t changed, added, or altered anything, but have done my best to recap the details accurately. So here’s my story of Dangerous Obedience.
It was 2009 and I had been in Scarborough Maine for the past three months on my school internship. Working at a relatively new church plant most days, and an inner city mission some afternoons, my days were filled with helping plan youth group meetings, sports programs, and learning from my internship mentor. Once a week I would help lead a young adult Bible study, where we would talk about life, love, and spiritual matters in the middle of a nursery. The little lambs on the walls always made me laugh and think of the movie Silence of the Lambs. A little creepy, but still fun.
Anyway, on one of those little lamb nights, our group began to discuss hearing and responding to God’s voice. It was one of those conversations that wasn’t so much planned, but just came up when discussing something else that probably had nothing to do with it. There were a pretty good amount of women in the group so I am going to blame them for this randomness, due to their gifted ability to think in terms of spaghetti. (Everything touches each other and they are all connected.) However, the conversation ended up being almost prophetic. We began to wrestle through what it meant for God to speak to us, the times when we really felt like we listened, and the opportunities we missed out on due to fear, sin, and just plain noise in our lives. The conversation was great, the fellowship was even better, and it ended up going late into the night from nursery, to hallway, to parking lot, like many nights before.
It was a little after 10 p.m. when I began my 20 minute drive back home and driving for me has always been think time. Like usual I recapped what we had discussed, and the implications that the God of the universe actually communicates to us holds. 10 minutes into the drive, I notice a shadowy figure walking alongside the road. Going about 55 miles an hour, I quickly notice when I passed the individual that he is a 20 something white male and get the sensation that something isn’t quite right.
Next thing I know my thoughts in my head are telling me to “Pick him up”, and I find myself automatically turning my car around without really thinking about what I was doing while asking, “Are you sure?.” Suddenly, I’m in front of the young man asking if he would like a ride to wherever he is going. He quickly says, “No thanks”, and I’m off back down the road.
For the next few moments I feel a sense of accomplishment. Realizing I had obeyed what I believed the Lord was calling me to and thinking through how God might use this kind gesture from a stranger for His kingdom. As I continued to drive I soon found out that my listening wasn’t even close to over yet.
No more than three minutes from my first encounter with the young man, my thoughts seem to say, “I told you to pick him up”… almost with an authoritative tone… that is if thoughts can have tones. At that moment all I knew to do was laugh and respond back by saying, ” Ummm you were there right? I did just offer him a ride and he said no. What do you want?” Interesting enough while I am laughing and saying this, I find myself again turning around and heading back to find this young man and thinking, “what in the world am I going to say to this guy? He is going to think I’m nuts!”
After a few more minutes I locate the young man again, pull up next to him, roll down the window, and get the “what the ____ are you doing back” kind of look and began to try to explain myself. With a puzzled and little fearful look on my face, I said, “I know this might sound weird and totally crazy, but I’m one of those Christian guys and I think God is telling me to give you a ride. So can I please give you a ride somewhere, anywhere you want, cuz I’m just trying to listen.”
After saying that, the young man’s face completely changed from anger and confusion to shock and pain. He quickly said yes, got in the vehicle and we headed off. Smashed between a couple moments of awkward silence we begin to chat about who he is, what he’s doing walking all alone at night, and where he would like to be taken. The young man, whom I will call Steven, told me that he was walking to Arkansas to visit his biological father who was dying of cancer. Steven,a foster child of a local preacher in town, recently turned 18 and decided he no longer could “handle” his living situation. Over the next few hours Steven and I talked about life, doubt, God, and most importantly the good news of Jesus Christ. In the end, Steven decided he wanted to go back to his foster dad the preacher, and had some of his doubts and questions honestly addressed.
For the next month Steven and I met up a couple of times and spoke about faith and life. Regularly joking that God had to send me back twice for him. I have no idea where Steven is now, what his relationship with his family is like, or even if he is or has been following Christ. But from this experience I’ve learned a couple of things. First, that the God of the universe cares about his lost and confused children on the road of life. That He doesn’t just send His body once, but as many times as necessary. Second, that Obedience can be dangerous. That God will call us to be His hands and feet not always in the safe and secure situations, but in the ones that He is needed most.
What do you think about Dangerous Obedience? Have you ever found yourself doing something dangerous for Jesus?
Side note: This post was not meant to think through how God speaks, His voice, or even the wisdom in discerning when to listen. It was simply written to express that sometimes God calls us to a Dangerous Obedience, and in the next few weeks I will attempt to wrestle through the other questions in the context of this story and scripture.