By Dr. Audrey Davidheiser, Crosswalk.com
I shut the microwave door, punched in 2:00, and hit start.
What happened next blindsided me.
Half of my office lost power.
For two days, until an electrician reset the breaker, I had to welcome my long-suffering clients into the semi-lit cave that was my office. Thankfully, none complained.
This is where I need to confess. Prior to placing my dish in the microwave, a wee little warning went off in my heart. Don’t run the microwave while the heater is on.
Have you ever dismissed an inner nudge because you assumed it was your own thought? I did that by responding with Nah, it’ll be fine. In reality, however, I was dishonoring the Holy Spirit’s admonition.
Disobedience comes with a price tag. That much is guaranteed. What may be different from one scenario to another, however, are the reasons behind it. There’s no shame in admitting our sins or failures, so see if you have committed disobedience based on the following rationales.
The good news is, there are remedial steps that can get us back on the obedience track.
1. Those Who Are Unsure About Recognizing His Voice
Like me and the microwave, some Christians don’t outright plan to defy the Lord. We just mistake the Creator’s voice for our own. So, there are two areas those of us in this camp need to major in:
1. The Bible
Reading Scripture is the safest way to learn about the Lord and His ways. Since “all Scripture is God-breathed,” (2 Timothy 3:16), we can trust every verse as originating from the One who spoke it. According to God’s Word, the Lord speaks in a gentle way (1 Kings 19:11-12). He may repeat Himself a few times if we don’t respond immediately, but never in a demanding manner. For instance, little Samuel never heard from the Lord directly when the Lord first called his name. Consequently, Samuel assumed he was being summoned by Eli, the priest who lived with him. The Lord had to call Samuel four separate times—and waited until Eli explained to the young boy what to do—before He finally got Samuel’s attention. Yet, the Almighty shows no impatience at having to wait for Samuel to get it (1 Samuel 3:1-14).
Moral of the story: when the Lord speaks to us, He is always respectful and patient.
2. Our Own Soul
Hebrews 4:12 states, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” This verse reveals the intimate connection between our spirit and soul. Their closeness explains why we can easily confuse the voice of our soul—which comprises of the mind, will, and emotion—with the voice of the Lord, who speaks through our spirit. But even though discerning the spirit from the soul can be tricky, there are some telltale signs. For instance, the soul tends to be hasty and pushy while the Lord is ever so patient. Moving too quickly can at times indicate that the soul is rushing us.
With regard to the power outage, if I had slowed down to investigate the caution I sensed, I would’ve realized it was the Lord who had issued the warning.
2. Those Who Are Trying to Discern if It’s Truly God Who’s Speaking
Sometimes, the Lord’s leading can be downright astonishing. He asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son (Genesis 22:1-2). He instructed Gideon to whittle down his army by a whopping 99%, from 32,000 to 300 (Judges 7:1-8). He commanded a widow to feed prophet Elijah—never mind they were in a pandemic, I mean famine, and they were so poor she and her son were on the brink of starvation (1 Kings 17:7-16).
Can you imagine what any of these individuals would have felt? If you were in their shoes, would you have double-checked with the Lord before obeying His direction? I certainly would have.
Another reason you may need to spend the time to discern God’s will is when you’re about to make a momentous decision. Months after John entered the picture, my heart waged a fierce battle against my head. At stake was the million-dollar question: is this the man You want me to marry, Lord? The Bible promises He will answer when we call (Jeremiah 33:3, Matthew 7:7-8, Luke 11:9-10); so, one day I fetched my journals and Bible to watch the Pacific welcome the sun into its waves as I implored God for a yes/no answer.
Perhaps you’re more concerned about seeking God for a job, instead of a marriage, proposal. Or maybe you’re dealing with a crucial decision of another kind. Study His Word and ask Him for a supporting verse or two that will clinch the matter for you.
This is where we bump into a caveat. It is commendable to spend the time to discover if the Lord really is guiding you to do something your mind might argue against. However, delaying to do it even after you’re sure is, essentially, disobeying God—especially if His instruction is time-sensitive.
Conclusion? Once you know the direction He wants you to take, do it—fully and immediately.
That’s why John and I got engaged four months following the Lord’s oceanside “yes.”
3. Those Who Are Willfully Deciding to Disobey God
California law bans drivers from carrying out a conversation while holding a phone.
I did it anyway.
Seconds after snubbing this particular law, a police officer pulled me over. Watching the unfolding scene prompted the friend I was traveling with to intercede. He pleaded with the cop to substitute the ticket for a warning. He even assured the officer about my upstanding character. I felt grateful for my friend’s advocacy, especially since he volunteered to do so.
Unfortunately, his efforts failed.
This incident might have happened years ago, but the ticket still serves as a grim reminder that Luke 12:47-48 (NLT) work: “A servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished. But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly.”
I knew about the law against holding your phone while driving, but I went ahead and did it. Consequently, I received a hefty punishment (that ticket) as opposed to a light one (the warning my friend appealed for).
The Bible assures us those who willfully disobey God will dead-end in gruesome fates. Take Balaam, for example. The Lord warned him not to visit or help Israel’s enemy, the Moabites, but he kept whining about it until the Lord relented (Numbers 22:5-25, Joshua 24:9-10). A few years later, Israel slew him along with their enemy combatants (Joshua 13:22).
Disobedience not only has the potential of destroying our destinies, but it can also facilitate our loved one's demise. Saul—Israel’s first king—knowingly rebelled against the Lord. It resulted not only in his death but also his entire house (1 Chronicles 10:6).
Obedience, on the other hand, promises:
- Wellness: “Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you.” (Jeremiah 7:23).
- Victory: “If my people would only listen to me, … how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes!” (Psalm 81:13-14).
- God’s attention: “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18).
- Protection: “Those who obey the commands protect themselves” (Proverbs 19:16, NCV).
- Blessings: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it” (Luke 11:28).
In case these big guns weren’t rewarding enough, God also furnishes the cherry on top: good food. Isaiah 1:19 says, “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land.”
As you know, I’ve had my share of disobeying God. But I’m steeling my resolve even more to quit this ungodly practice. No more power outages and traffic tickets, please. I’m making room for victory and answered prayers.
Care to join me?
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/AntonioGuillem
Audrey Davidheiser, PhD is a California licensed psychologist, certified Internal Family Systems therapist, and author of Surviving Difficult People: When Your Faith and Feelings Clash. She founded and directed a counseling center for the Los Angeles Dream Center, supervised graduate students, and has treated close to 2,200 clients. Dr. Audrey devotes her California practice to survivors of psychological trauma. Visit her on www.aimforbreakthrough.com and Instagram @DrAudreyD.