“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
– Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus appears to make the assertion that the Christian life should be easy. Still many of us stress over what is God’s plan for our lives, struggle to stay out of sin, and not really sure if God is interested in what we do with our money. We want to create rules so we know how to follow Him, but He just wants us to follow Him and not rules. If Jesus’ yoke is easy, what makes following God so hard?
Two Things Make Following God So Hard
I feel that there are really two things that makes following God hard. The first is a belief problem; the second is an obedience problem.
The first reason following God is so hard is that many of us do not believe that God wants to communicate with us. We may believe that God will use the Bible or that He still speaks to our religious leaders, but when it comes to a personal conversation, we feel silence.
Therefore, when we wonder how long should I read the Bible, we can’t find a clear answer. If we have a more interesting dilemma like whether we should ask Mildred or Martha out to dinner, we get stuck in indecision. How do we find an answer when there is no direct verse to apply?
Jesus Modeled Listening to His Father
Jesus said He only did what He saw His Father doing (John 5:19). He only spoke what He heard His Father saying (John 12:49). If we want our Christian life to get easier, we need to hear what God is saying to us.
Jesus said my sheep know my voice (John 10:4). Hearing the voice of God is available for all believers. We must believe this because if we don’t even believe He will speak to us, we will never listen to how He may lead.
Henry Blackaby, the Southern Baptist pastor who wrote Experiencing God, said,
“If you have trouble hearing God speak, you are in trouble at the very heart of your Christian experience.”
The Second Roadblock to Following God
The other area of hardship is that of lies we believe. Every time God calls you to something, you will come to a point that Henry Blackaby calls the crisis of belief.
- Do I believe that God will come through for me?
- Will He hold up His end of the bargain?
- Did I really hear Him correctly?
- What if I fail?
- Am I good enough?
- This is not worth all the trouble?
These lies creep in and convince us to walk away from the blessing of adventuring with God. The enemy wants us to ignore those things we heard from God and then hinder us from wanting to hear Him speak.
I’m not saying it won’t be hard. When the rich young ruler came to Jesus asking what He must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus told him to sell all that he had and follow Jesus. This so discouraged Jesus’ disciples that they questioned who then could be saved (Luke 18:18-30).
Not everyone had this obligation. Zacchaeus was never asked to do anything about the money he stole (Luke 19:1-10). Although he chose to give away half his money, it was still less than what was required of the rich young ruler. The point is that God wants to get at our personal lies and fears, so that we will trust Him with everything.
My Wife and I Sold Everything
When my wife and I headed to China, we left our steady income, sold all we had except what could fit in eight suitcases, went to a country we had never been before, to follow a dream.
Now that we are back in America, we still have to hold onto our faith. Coming back didn’t return all the things we left behind. We just have less income and living in an expensive country. So, what do we do? We keep checking in with God about the process.
We know to some we look like heroes and to others we look like idiots. Oftentimes we just feel poor. The temptation is to give up, but we hang on because we believe God has called us to something. There is no adventure when there are no risks. God said it is impossible to please Him without faith, and that He rewards those that come to Him (Hebrews 11:6).
The Season of Outrageous Faith
This is the season of the Church where we are being called to live outrageous faith, a type of faith that makes no sense to those who don’t know God. We have books like:
- Anything by Jennie Allen
- The Extravagant Fool by Kevin Adams
- Kisses from Katie
We have pastors calling us to more: Francis Chan, Steven Furtick, Mark Batterson to name a few.
Dr. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, used to ask people if they have ever discovered the wonderful adventure of knowing God personally.
I pray that each of us will be able to say that about our lives. Yes, I know God personally and I listen to His voice. And, yes, I follow that voice in all of the crazy adventures. May you experience the wild, amazing ride of following God.
I really enjoyed reading this today. We too were called to give up our well paid teaching jobs and move over seas to the mission field in East Africa. Some people said we were nuts others were challenged. We managed on a lot less money and God was immensely faithful to us in providing. We have always tithed and given and God has blessed us beyond measure. Thank you for sharing your experience.
I really appreciate you sharing. I think this is a good example about why following God is so hard… He asks each of us to follow in different ways. Therefore, so people think we are nuts and some are challenged in a good way. One person’s faith challenge is to take care of a sick family member, and they look enviously at an overseas missionary, who looks enviously at the person called to a workplace ministry, who longs to be a church leader. The beauty of this though, is we are each forced to deepen our personal relationship with God and encourage others to do the same.
I pray you are continuing to reap blessings over your willingness to follow how you felt God was leading.
Thanks for this post. I like the thought of God being wild and adventurous…I guess because that’s the exact opposite of me, hehe. As you talk about hearing God’s voice and following all His adventurous ways, I feel quite left out. I have a terrible time with discernment, so I can’t tell if God is really speaking to me or not. I ask Him for wisdom to discern His voice, but I don’t find myself getting anywhere. I might be seeing what He’s saying, but I’m not sure. What if God isn’t telling me to do anything?
I am glad you are seeking after His voice. He may not be telling you to do anything; He just desires spending time with you. Keep be attentive to Him. I’m so proud of you. It sounds like you are doing great!