The Ache of an Obedient Heart


Even the best of our intentions to love and serve others can become misguided if we’re not seeking His will first.

“It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.” Deuteronomy 13:4 (NIV)

I wanted to fix it. I needed to be there. The maternal instinct within me was frenzied with worry and yearned to protect my baby sister and her new baby.

But what could I do? I was hundreds of miles away, and my medical knowledge tapped out at splinter removals and Band-Aids.

It was all so unexpected. One minute we celebrated our family’s newest member and sent congratulatory text messages. The next minute we received word they were calling specialists, and the baby was moved to a NICU two hours away.

A heaviness immediately fell over my heart.

So many tests. So many unknowns. Lost in tangled thoughts of fear — with barely a thought of “Why?” — the larger question roared in my heart, “What now?” I sank to the floor and cried out to the Lord:

I want to be there. I need to be there! Let me be Your hands and Your feet in Montana. I can serve them well. I know I can.

And I could see myself doing just that. I was ready to charge the plane ticket to my credit card. Who cared about the money, I rationalized. I looked forward to assuming my post in the waiting room, prepared to be a pillar of strength equipped with a shoulder to cry on, prayerful encouragement, and of course … snacks. Except that’s not where God saw me.

“It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him” (Deuteronomy 13:4).

My aching heart was so intent on going to my sister; I assumed God would agree and make a way for my way. But I forgot what Deuteronomy graciously reminded me — the Lord would be doing the leading. Not me. And despite my prayerful pleas to serve my sister in Montana, God was calling me to forfeit the grip on my own plan in order to hold fast to His better plan.

Of course this was much easier said than done. And yet I knew it was necessary if I truly wanted to follow God’s will and serve my sister well.

God had things covered in Montana, and He loved my sister’s family more than I ever could. With a divine purpose, He surrounded their family with the doctors and nurses they needed, equipping them with equal parts skill and care. My cry-ready shoulders weren’t needed in a waiting room. I needed to obey and stay put. Where I was needed was right where I was — with my feet firmly planted in Reno, Nevada and my hands only reaching as far as my phone on the nightstand.

God’s plan for me was to ease the burden of communication for my sister as the voice who updated family and friends with the status. I needed to serve where He was calling me.

And so I did … begrudgingly. Yet what I assumed was only a simple task of obedience, the Lord used to create so much more! With each update sent, the threads of communication began to weave together a community of hope amongst believers and non-believers alike. We celebrated threads of progress made in the NICU. We relished threads of laughter at attempts to coin the best nickname for the baby. And we shared sweet pictures with “ooohs” and “aaahs.”

But the brightest threads, for all to see, were those of the Lord’s faithful provision as miraculous prayers were answered in His Name. His plan was best. His plan accounted for every detail and every heart, including my once begrudging, but now humbled self. Oh, how thankful I was for the Lord’s gracious, leading hand, which allowed me to serve my sister’s family well as a part of His better plan.

Could the Lord be calling you to His better plan today?

Even the best of our intentions to love and serve others can become misguided if we’re not seeking His will first. But, thanks be to God, the Lord has never lost sight of us. We need only forfeit our own plans in order to hold fast to His hands.

Dear Lord, as I rest in Your presence, my heart is repentant. I desire to follow Your lead and hold fast to Your truths. And yet it seems as though my heart can become so easily misguided — forging ahead without seeking Your will first. Please forgive me, Lord. Beckon my heart to Yours, that I may receive Your mercies and serve You well. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

John 12:26, “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” (NIV)

Psalm 143:10, “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” (NIV)

Have you ever wanted to study the Old Testament but just weren’t sure where to start? Don’t miss our next First 5 study, Isaiah. We’ll discover a book that proves God really does keep His promises and, above all else, points to Jesus. The 13-week study begins on Monday, October 7. Get my Isaiah Experience Guide!

In what area(s) of your life do you struggle to follow the Lord’s lead? Prayerfully consider why this might be and come before the Lord with the findings of your heart.

Join the conversation! Share your thoughts on today's devotion in our comments section!

© 2019 by Corrie Gerbatz. All rights reserved.

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