November 11, Saturday

The AMI QT Devotionals for November 11-12 are provided by Christine Wang who, along with her husband Ulysses, recently planted the Renewal Church in Sunnyvale, California. A graduate of New York University, Christine is a proud mother of Audrey and Noah.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Cultivating Obedience (Part 1)

Jonah 1:1-4

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord. 4 But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up

Jonah 1:15-17

So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows. 17 And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

I had the privilege of giving a seminar at the AMI West Coast Women’s Conference this past August. This devotion is adapted from that talk.

Run.  Why is it that whenever God calls us to do something, our first reaction is to run in the opposite direction? I know for myself, it is always because of my feelings of inadequacy, insecurity and fear. Maybe you would fill in that blank with different things that only you struggle with. Whatever the case, we often find our lives filled with, “I can’t, Lord.” I heard a sermon once preached where the pastor said, “Call it for what it really is. Your ‘I can’t’ is really, ‘I won’t.’” For me, that was all too true. Thankfully, God wanted to change my “Nos” to “Yeses.” There are four things we experience during that process.  I will share two today and the rest tomorrow.

God first spoke to me about going to China in 2010, but I convinced myself that I didn’t hear correctly. At the heart of it, I just didn’t want to go. I never felt particularly called to missions and had little experience so I was genuinely dismayed at the idea. I justified my inability to obey for a whole year with what I thought were very reasonable things: We had a 2-year old toddler. I was pregnant with our second. We just purchased a condo via an extremely hard-to-come-by housing lottery in Manhattan (Manhattan!). We were “needed” at Remnant. Surely God could see that these were very legitimate reasons for not uprooting our family and moving abroad!

But God kept tugging at our hearts in His gracious and patient way. He wanted to cultivate obedience in us. We were able to see that but still lacked the faith to fully commit to the idea. As a compromise, we went on a 3-month trip to China in the summer of 2011. Barely into my second trimester and still feeling extremely nauseous, I remember how miserable I was almost the entire trip. When we left to go home to NY, I was relieved we had “gotten that out of our system” and could go back to our normal life. But God wasn’t done with us yet.

Relinquish. To my surprise, God didn’t relinquish us from the call to China. The call only grew stronger. Over the following year, God powerfully ministered to both me and Ulysses. He gave us time in the “belly of the fish.” We thought we had escaped God, but really, we were forced to face Him. We cried, confessed, wrestled, repented, praised and then eventually re-committed our lives to Him. In March of 2012, we finally surrendered and said, “Yes, Lord. We will go.”

Tomorrow, I will share what the Lord continued to show us, in China; for today, please be reminded of God’s relentless pursuit of us so that we may join Him at His work—that is, even if we are weak and inadequate, the Lord is able and willing to make us fit for His service.

Prayer:  Lord, thank You that even when we try to run away from obeying You, You continue to pursue us and gently bring us back to You.  Help us to realize what a privilege it is that You desire to use us for Your Kingdom work.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 9-10

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