I remember that day in the grocery store like it was yesterday. The moment is seared into the deepest parts of my memory. (Which is saying something, because my memory is terrible!)
If you’ve ever grocery shopped with a toddler you may have similar scars.
While I paid for and bagged the groceries, my four-year-old loved nothing more than to plop herself unceremoniously on the filthy floor and devour an Archie comic. It was convenient for me: it kept her quiet and close by while I was otherwise occupied. (Side note: by the third child, a filthy grocery store floor is an important part of building a healthy immune system.)
I’d give her the one-minute warning as the transaction was wrapping up. And then it was time to go.
“Let’s go,” I’d say.
“Just a sec…” was, more often than not, the first response.
“It’s time to go,” I’d repeat, a little firmer.
“Just a sec…”
Sometimes I’d begin walking away, thinking she’d notice my absence and take up after me. I’d casually lob a “Good-bye” over my shoulder back at her, hoping for some acknowledgement, recognition, a response. Anything really. Sometimes it worked. This time?
Nothing. Not even so much as a flinch.
Exercising a level of patience that is unique only to public places—because we all know everyone in the checkout line is watching this power struggle play out—I tried once more, with feeling, “It’s. Time. To. Go.”
And with the third “just a sec” barely out of her mouth, I lost it.
“NO! NO. MORE. SECS!”
Now, I’m just going to pause here while you read that one more time, out loud if you can. Channel your best “busy grocery store check-out line with a four-year-old” exasperation volume.
You can well imagine the chuckles that followed that outburst. And with no convenient rocks to crawl under, I took my leave. Thankfully, my four-year-old read my tone and wisely put the comic away, sheepishly following her sheepish mother out to the car.
Enough time has passed that I can laugh about it now. But, sadly the situation that brings that story to mind more often than not, is the same power struggle playing itself out.
Except now, instead of Archie comics, it’s a phone, or tablet, a computer game or a YouTube video. And “just a sec…” has been replaced with “I just…”
“I just have four minutes left in this video.”
“I just want to send my streaks.”
“I just want to post this photo.”
“I just need to see if so-and-so responded to my text.”
My kids tell me that when I’m angry, I’m terrifying. And yet, we still have these conversations. So, clearly, there’s room for me to up my terrifying-game. But in truth, I don’t want my kids to be terrified of me. I want them to know that there’s actually a lot of great blessings that are tied to obedience. (A happy mom, for starters!)
Now, it might be tempting to follow this rabbit trail down the slippery slope of all my parenting failures, of which there are many—clearly. But that’s not my point today.
Today, I’m wrestling with delayed obedience. The situation that arises when something is asked or requested and it happens, but the timeline is eventually, rather than now.
Here’s the thing: it’s not just a problem for my kids.
I do it too. And what’s worse? I do it to God.
Because really, delayed obedience is just a fancy way of saying disobedience.
So, why do I think it’s okay to put God off when he asks me to do something?
Because I’m stubborn.
And I want what I want.
The truth is that—more often than not—we know what’s right; we just don’t want to do it.
A few years ago I was in a drive-thru line up at a nearby Starbucks. Paying it forward was a big thing at the time. And as I sat in the lull of the line between ordering my Grande green tea and reaching the window to pay, I felt a little nudge, a voice saying, “pay for the car behind you.”
Let me be clear, I was in the car alone. The voice was more of an impression; a thought that simply popped into my head.
Well, let me tell you what I did with that thought: I argued with it. No, I would not pay for the car behind me, that’s so cliché.
But the voice persisted.
And I continued to argue. (I know, I know…)
Back and forth we went as my car inched closer to the window. It wasn’t even the money, for some reason it was my pride that stood in the way of obedience. I can’t even explain it; it’s not rational. Such a little thing and I was in turmoil.
As I pulled forward, finally my turn, I had quieted the thought. I would NOT offer to pay for the car behind me. I would do it next time. (Sound familiar? “Just a sec…”) I told God he needed to give me a little more warning first.
The Barista opened the window and leaned over, “That will be $9.56 please…”
Ummm….Nine dollars and 56 cents for a cup of green tea? No way…
And then it dawned on me… I asked the Barista if that was the total for the car behind me? She apologized profusely for her mistake. But I knew it wasn’t a mistake. Because as much as I want what I want, God also wants what He wants and can (and will) go to any length to make that happen. Even with a stubborn mule like me.
Of course, I paid the $9.56, because if you’re still arguing with God once He’s played his trump hand, you’ve got trouble. And I drove away with my cup of tea feeling a sense of huge relief.
God doesn’t want our “just a secs” or excuses. He wants our obedience and He wants it to be immediate, not eventual.
If he’s calling you to something or speaking to you about something—even something as small as buying a coffee for the person in the drive-thru behind you—He has an intended purpose bigger than what you might imagine. Your job is simply to say yes.
No more “I justs…”
I just need more time.
I just need more confidence.
I just need more experience.
I just need more money.
I just need a bigger house.
I just need a more satisfying job.
I just need better health.
I just need a spouse… or, a better spouse.
I just need kids… or, kids to grow up, or be less dependent, or move out.
Basically, we need to take a page out of the Psalmist’s book, “I will hurry without delay to obey your commands.” (Psalm 119:60)
Know this: God will never ask us to do anything that would cause us harm, or leave us disgraced. He promises.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~Jeremiah 29:11
Though, to be sure, the things that He asks of us will almost certainly push us out of our comfort zone. We don’t have to understand or rationalize what He’s doing and why. We just need to trust that it’s for a good reason.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” ~Proverbs 3:5-6
When I’m contemplating my disobedience—you know, all the times I sense that God is asking something of me, like when he puts a specific person on my mind or nudges me to do or say something that feels awkward or intrusive—and I hesitate, delay, give him my excuses and “just a secs…” I’m often reminded of a specific verse in Esther.
Esther, a Jewish orphan, finds herself elevated to Queen of Persia through a series of circumstances that can only be Divine Providence. Her cousin asks her to approach the king, requesting that he rescue the nation of Israel from complete annihilation.* (*Reader’s Digest condensed version)
Esther knows that in approaching the king, she’s putting her life at risk. But her cousin speaks some profound words to her in that moment,
“If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” ~Esther 4:14
Mordecai is asking Esther to do something vastly outside of her comfort zone and if she chooses not to do it, “deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place…” In short, God will accomplish His will, with or without her. Yikes.
Now, I’m no queen (Although my husband has been known to refer to me as Princess…) and God’s not asking me to save a nation; He’s talking to me in the day-to-day of my life, in places like the drive-thru. He’s got blessings waiting around every corner, and I almost missed being part of one small one. It makes me wonder how many others have I missed out on because of my stubbornness, pride or fear?
Do you want to be part of what God’s doing in this crazy world?
Who knows if perhaps you have been put exactly where you are for such a time as this?
In the drive-thru line up.
In your workplace.
In your community.
With your kids.
God’s got a plan. It’s not ours to figure out or to rationalize or even understand. But, please know this: you are an important part of it. Don’t delay.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” ~Ephesians 2:10
“May he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him.” ~Hebrews 13:21
Before I sign off, I want to thank everyone who entered my recent giveaway draw for two copies of iola magazine. I did my first-ever Instagram story and it was as terrifying as you might imagine. I’m also super thankful for my 12-year-old tech wiz, who held my hand through the whole thing and only laughed at me a few times. I’m game to try it again… stay tuned!
As I navigate my way through this often-overwhelming technology vortex, I’m humbled by and simultaneously grateful for my children. And, regularly I find myself apologizing to God for mocking my grandmother when she struggled to figure out the remote control for her DVD player. Sigh.
Copies of iola magazine are still available on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com (and Australia and the UK too!) Be sure to get your copy soon. I also have a limited number of copies available for sale for $15 each, plus shipping. Message me through my contact form here or via DM on Instagram.
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I’m doing my best at navigating the twists and turns of this life with faith, hope and humour. I’d be so honoured to share the journey with you. Putting one foot in front of the other, and—hopefully—not in my mouth.
Based on my previous track record, I don’t promise that my posts will be consistent, or inconsistent, but I’ll try for amusing. At the very least, I hope you’ll come away encouraged and feeling a little better about yourself.
Thanks so much for visiting,