- Susan Shultz
Four Freeing Steps Towards Obedience
Updated: Feb 22
("God's Mission Protocol" Series 2, Post 10)
I found myself a week ago standing on the edge of a truly blank page and all I could think was “Now what?” My only child is now in kindergarten. For the past five years I have focused mainly on her and being a mother. Before that my focus and prayer was on having a child. Before that on obtaining a new home. Before that it was on getting married. Before that, missions, and before that, college, and so on and so on. All of these things became reasons in my mind for why God was delaying in bringing fulfillment to my greatest desire, one that He instilled within me long before any of those life steps had even become a twinkle in my eye. God instilled a desire within me back in college to be involved in ministry and missions, a desire He then turned into an actual promise 15 years ago. So, what makes this moment in time so unique is that for the first time in my life, I don’t have anything else to distract me, or to take my mind off of this desire and promise. Plus, as you know, if you have followed along with me, nothing has been happening the way I expected, or really honestly how I have wanted. The blank page God was calling me to experience at the beginning of the summer is nothing compared to how it feels now for at least this last summer my daughter was with me all the time. I have no idea what is next. I literally and genuinely have a blank page (or time) and calendar for God to fill and the battle right now is for my faith, for my continued belief. I am at a place, with literally nothing else to fill my thoughts and time, to have to believe God’s promise that He has a ministry in store for me. That, as He has said to me countless times, He will not disappoint. And, as you can imagine, Satan is right here front and center making this process even harder. I know he is.
With all of that said, my main prayer as I began to feel this battle within me heighten last week was for freedom. I prayed and asked God countless times for freedom. I essentially wanted freedom from this current desert, from the words or promises that I have been holding onto for so long. I prayed that God would give me freedom by either showing me that they were not from Him and thus helping me to finally let them go and move onto something new or to bring about fulfillment. For, I am a weary traveler and have reached the point where I just want to be free from this internal battle, this plot that has run through my life. One that has always been in my mind and in my heart as I have experienced life.
I also began holding a new blank calendar up to the Lord, praying and crying out to Him to fill it, asking that He would purify my desires so that we would be on the same page. I desired in my heart and expressed to God that I simply wished Jesus would just sit in front of me and explain things to me, lay things out for me. I just wanted Him to simply tell me what to do. “Why does it have to be so hard?” I asked. As I have been sitting on this promise from the Lord for 15 years now, along with it, I have heard and written down more words from the Lord than I can count. With that said, you can probably understand why over the last few months a song from “My Fair Lady” has often come into my mind and I have sung it to the Lord. It is, “Words. Words. Words. I’m so sick of words. Show me!” I know, not the most Christ-like thing to do or say to the Lord, but my true heart nonetheless which I can’t hide from Him. So, like I said, I have been truly desiring Jesus to literally sit in front of me and to just tell me what to do and to tell me if all the countless words within my journals are truly from Him.
One day last week, during the height of my frustration, I want to say I cried out to the Lord, but really, I screamed at Him. Three times, at the top of my lungs I asked, “What do You want from me!?” I didn’t deserve an answer but each time He gave me one. Each time His answer was the same, “Obedience.” When I finally calmed down, sat at the Lord’s feet, and asked for His forgiveness, I found myself really reflecting on what He said to me and the verse that came strongly to my mind was 1 Samuel 15:22 which says, “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”
The next few days did begin to get better as I found myself after that choosing to remember that God is God, that He is truly in control, and that I have no control. I decided to commit my time and confusion about the future to Him and instead simply sit at His feet and choose yet again to trust that He will lead me into the next chapter of my life. I began to look once again onto my giant wooden “B” with “Be still and know that I am God” written on it, that now sits next to a picture of my husband and daughter, both of which are now fulfillments to promises once given as well. I then remembered why I even had that B to begin with. I obtained it back when I was in a waiting time, within a similar time and struggle over belief with confusion as to whether God’s words and promise were true that “Joe and I would be together.” God led me to it back then to show me that all He really wanted of me during that season was to relinquish control, to stop and just be (“B”), to sit and be still and get to know Him more. My life, my testimony, is one big cycle, and if I would just stop and reflect on the lessons God has already taught me, and the journey that He has already brought me through, I wouldn’t struggle so much. I remembered something God said months ago, that “Your inconsistency in your belief is weighing you down.” I knew that this was happening once again, mainly because I have failed to tap into my testimony, that reservoir of faith meant to encourage me and give me strength in my current battle and desert.
The following Sunday at church, God spoke. He said:
Susan, I know your anxious thoughts, your worry, your confusion. When will you apply what I have taught you? When will you exercise true obedience? The prescription is in your head while the pain you curse. I have not moved Susan. Me and My promises to you have NOT moved, it is you who have moved. Waves are crashing around you so where will you look? You have never, and I mean NEVER, had control of the outcome. All I ask of you is obedience. Pray, sit at My feet, testify, and believe. This is your list Susan, your “to do” list and the only things you will be accountable for. What will you do with them? My burden is easy and My yoke is light. No matter what promises I have and will give you, you are only EVER responsible for those four things. Four things Susan. Four things. Write them down and carry them with you always and My love, let them bring you freedom. The freedom you crave is only four simple steps away, and the word I give you today yet again is “relinquish.” Relinquish control to the only One who has the control, the power to bring about My plans for you. Never lose hope Susan. Those who lose hope have taken on burdens I never gave them. They are those that have added onto that list of four things apart from Me. I do give people more to do but where there is confusion, where there is anxiety, where there is strife and a lack of peace, worry, return. Return to Me. All of these are symptoms of My children straying. Timing My love. Timing. How you know this is a true foe, your greatest weakness and Satan’s FAVORITE button. Don’t let him push it. Return it to Me. Allow Me to reveal My side of things and that I am in complete control. Never, not once, did I act in the timing that My people wanted or found instantly acceptable. My Word is filled with examples of this, the greatest example is within the last book and My use of the word “soon.” Susan, embrace every moment. Stop trying to move past them for if you seek Me to be the Lord of your schedule and things seem slow and mundane, or even that they are backtracking, trust that I have a reason for it. DO NOT FIGHT THE SEASONS for they ALL have purpose. Remember that true adventure is made up of not only mountaintops but valleys. I have a reason and a plan for both. Believe. Believe that I am ALWAYS moving, especially when you don’t think I am. I AM ALWAYS MOVING. Believe. Freedom is yours Susan if only you would return to Me and those four truths. What you truly want is fulfillment but My love even fulfillment is what you make it. It is attached to belief. Whenever you believe you exist within fulfillment. I have already given you your “Amen” multiple times so now it is just a battle of belief and Susan, if you daily applied those four important steps, you would have it and you wouldn’t struggle so much. People forget that when they stand before Me that they will not only be accountable for being obedient in the doing, in the calling, but also in the waiting. I look at all days and all moments. You will be accountable for ALL your time. So, how will you use your time? Glorify Me with every moment. At all times pray, in everything come to Me, by all means testify, then believe that I am who I say I am and that I WILL move. I am always fighting on My children’s behalf - ALWAYS!
*(To understand this next portion, I have to share a bit of my testimony. Several years ago, before the fulfillment of God’s promise to return my bridegroom to me, God orchestrated a series of events to confirm His word to me that “He was bringing me change.” This is a story that can be found in “Bridegroom in the Clouds: Book 2 – Bridge Stories.” During this season God symbolized this change that was coming in my life through butterflies, even one Sunday calling me to draw a butterfly coming out of a cocoon within my journal. Shortly after this, I had lunch with a friend who said she had something to give me that she was excited about. She knew nothing about the butterflies or God’s promise of bringing me change, yet when I came back to our table after retrieving our coffees from the barista, in the middle of the table she had placed a giant bag of loose change and on top of these coins, a beautifully decorated butterfly cookie. I knew instantly in that moment, with that visual, that God was confirming to me that He was indeed about to bring me change.)
After writing down God’s words to me, I next tuned into the worship song being sung and heard, “You’re here and I know You are moving.” I then instantly envisioned Jesus. He appeared before me and sat in front of me. His eyes stared at me. He said, “This is what you want. Me to sit in front of you and to tell you what is.” He then said, “Change is upon you. True change is upon you.”
He just sat as the worship was going on and looked at me with a gentle smile. He then looked up, as so then did I, as loose change (coins) began to fall upon us. He then bit into a butterfly cookie. I remembered how God had inspired me the week before to once again draw in my journal a butterfly coming out of a cocoon like I had years ago. The only words that appeared on the screen in the front of the sanctuary in that moment were, “Your presence Lord.” The next words to appear said, “Let us become more aware of Your presence.” I was becoming aware.
He then said to me, “I am always with you Susan. You may not always see Me, but I am always with you.” He then looked at me and said as He began to stand, “I love you. I love you, Susan.” In that moment I once again tuned into the worship song and heard, “Through it all my eyes are on you.” He stood up to make His way towards me and then sat next to me. He then placed His hands on top of mine, on top of my journal, and said, “These are My word’s Susan. These are My words. Believe My anointed one.” He then put His arm around me and set His head on top of mine and just held me, eyes closed.
He sat with me through the entire service. He then got up as the pastor began to get us ready for communion. As my pastor spoke, Jesus stood behind the table with the elements, raised Him hands and looked toward Heaven. Then as the people began to walk past the table, Jesus looked and smiled at each one. After communion He came back to where I was seated, stood behind my husband and I and placed His hands around us both during the final prayer.
After the service, He looked at me one last time with His calm, gentle smile, and although He didn’t say anything, I knew what He was saying. He said that although I will not always see Him the way I did in this moment that He is still there. He is always there. He is always with us. How often we know this in our heads but don’t really live as though this reality is true. The prescription is in our head while the pain we curse. Jesus is always there, always moving, even when we don’t see Him. We must, MUST, live as though what we believe is true.
The only thing I wrote down from our guest speaker’s sermon that day was, “Action comes with revelation.” With that comment, all I could think about is all those words God has had me write down, all my written promises, prophecy and/or revelation. The speaker then said, “Agreeing with what He said, in prayer, and positioning ourselves to be available.” I then thought about those four steps: prayer, sitting at Christ’s feet, testify, and believe. This is obedience. This is my to do list. God simply wants me to take in His revelation and then position myself to be available through those four steps. That is all He has ever asked of me. That is all I have ever been accountable for. This is relinquishing control. This is being obedient. And this is having that sweet, sweet, freedom.
The next day my devotional was on 2 Kings 11:1-16 and talked about Jehoiada, a servant of God that isn’t all that well known. Yet, someone that through his long-standing daily obedience impacted a king, a nation, and the world. “He was buried with the kings in the City of David, because of the good he had done in Israel for God and his temple” (2 Chronicles 24:16). The devotional ended by pointing out that such consistent obedience is more important and needed in a world that preaches fame, power, and self-fulfillment. I was then led to 2 Corinthians 5:10 which sums it up well, for it says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
God reminded me that true freedom and obedience comes after true relinquishment of control and choosing to just be, to be still and know that He is God. After all, the best things in my life, my husband and my daughter, God’s actual fulfilled promises in my life, both came to me after this important step.
With that said, it has become clear that history is repeating itself. Even as I was yelling at the Lord last week, I couldn’t help but to think about the first time I did that. That time too I didn’t deserve an answer but once again, He gave me one, and even to this day it is still probably the most profound thing God has even said to me, the deepest definition into His very Being. In regard to His promise to return my bridegroom to me, in my confusion and frustration within the long waiting time, I yelled at God in anger and asked, “What are You waiting for!?” His reply to me then was “For the moment when My glory will be best revealed.” Wow! I knew I couldn’t argue with that, and I was silenced.
You know, it really all comes down to idol worship and God thwarting our lovers. That is what He did with my desire for a man and if I am honest with myself that is what He has been doing with my desire for a ministry. Although both promises are from the Lord, He still wants these desires to remain in their appropriate place. Looking back now onto the events of last week, I can clearly see this process, since I have been through it many times, of God thwarting my idols, and then leading me back to Him, into a state of being still and knowing He is God. And each time I go through this, I find my spirit crying out that “He is in control. I have no control. It is all about Him.” Every time! But these are in fact the most profound and deepest things that we, as God’s children, can say, for they signify that we have reached the place that God longs for us to be, at a place of true relinquishment where we believe God to be God, Him the Potter and us the clay. A place where our head knowledge once again is truly heart knowledge and where we believe that He truly is the “author and [finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2), giving us true, sweet, freedom.