The Scars of Obedience

Then Jesus said to his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Matthew 16:24

The Lord said MOVE. He had been speaking words of preparation to my wife and me for years, and then He suddenly gave a surprising command. We were to uproot our family from southern California and move to Tennessee, without knowing why. Immediately.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. It was supposed to be Virginia or the Carolinas or some other East coast destination. It was supposed to be for a great ministry opportunity or specific calling. It was supposed to be not only clear and calculable, but also a reflection of the desires of our hearts. Instead, it was an Abram step of faith.

A week or so after this command, the Lord spoke to me in the middle of a Sunday morning service: Are you ready for everything to be hard?

No, Lord, I admitted, but I’ll still obey you.

As we packed up our lives in the 6 weeks that followed, that word of caution continually proved itself. Everything was hard. In little ways and big ways, every task was a challenge, and obstacles materialized without warning, blocking us at every turn. We prayed our way through each day, and after sending the moving van on ahead of us, we started our cross-country journey in two packed cars. But it wasn’t until the second day on the road, during a beautiful Arizona sunrise, that hard truly began.

A newly replaced tire exploded on the car my wife and son were in. From my rear-view mirror, I watched the car veer out of control and flip end-over-end off the road. I was able to pull my unharmed son out through a window, but my wife was extracted from the crushed car with the Jaws of Life and helivaced to a trauma center in Phoenix. Miraculously, her injuries were limited to her hands and wrist, and after a few surgeries, setting of pins and skin grafting, she was released on the third day.

We’ve now been in Tennessee four weeks. During this time, we’ve been consumed with hospitals, surgeries and therapy. We don’t know why the Lord has asked us to lay down ministry, family & friends, career, finances, et al, and come here; in fact, we’re in such a fog, we really don’t know where we are. But there is one thing we know for certain. I mentioned earlier that God had spent years preparing us. This preparation was pivotal, because through it God brought us to know His character. He is always good and He is always faithful. Unconditionally. He is always worthy of praise, despite our circumstances. This is foolishness in the world’s eyes, but it is everything to us as believers. He is our absolute.

I always get choked up when I read about the disciples being beaten in Acts 5 and going away “rejoicing, because God had considered them worthy to suffer for the sake of Jesus.” (v41). In some small way, I can better connect with that passage now. At this moment, my eyes are welling up as I think about my beautiful wife, who’ll forever wear the scars of obedience on her hands, just as her Savior does.

Father, teach us to count the cost, and follow You. Teach us to praise You in all things, to trust You at all times, through all circumstances. We declare the truth of Your word in Romans 5:3-4:

“we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Do Your perfect work in our lives, Lord. Amen!

4 comments on “The Scars of Obedience

  1. I just read your post about moving to Tennessee and tears filled my eyes. My name is David Robinson. I too have a similar story of leaving everything to blindly follow a call. I lived in North Carolina and played in a Christian music ministry for 13 years. I had seen God use us in mighty ways. Not because we were that great, but because we were willing to go out and share the gospel. Towards the end of the 13 years I began to produce and engineer other upcoming bands. I felt that God was calling me to serve him in this manner so I stepped down as next in line to take over my Dad’s business to follow God’s call. It wasn’t easy. We built a studio behind our house and up till that first day I had been really busy but things started out really slow. But God provided. I came out to Nashville to mix a record I had produced and made a new friend with the studio owner. We didn’t really stay in touch because we were both busy but later he would re-enter our lives. When I returned home from the trip I told my wife that I wouldn’t be surprised if God didn’t move us out there someday. She thought I was crazy. About 4 years later my wife and I both felt as if the lord was going to move us. Can’t really explain why. One day I came home and she was in the attic going through stuff. It was almost like it was a maternal spiritual instinct. I asked her why she was doing that and she said she was preparing for moving. As a month or so went by God put the studio owner I had worked with on my heart. Long story short one of the engineer greats was looking for an engineer. He had contacted him (the studio owner) to find this engineer and he was thinking of me. I came out to Nashville 3 times for an interview and each time it fell through. The fourth time out I actually talked to him and it was set in stone. As I sat in my hotel room I prayed “God is this the plan you have for me and my family? I really need to know” I’m not one to just open the bible and say “Ah that’s from God” but I told God that I needed to know. I opened the bible and it fell on Jeremiah 29:11. This is what it said. “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. What were the chances of that!!! I walked into that interview knowing I had the job and I got it. He told me to contact him when we moved out and we would discuss terms and go from there. Well then the enemy stepped in. Around thanksgiving (2 months later) I e-mailed to tell him that we had been talking to real estate agents in TN and our house was already leased in NC and that we would be out there on the 19th of Jan. His comment was. ” We are not yet sure what our plans are at the time or who we are going to bring on board, but we hope you have a great thanksgiving.” I was floored! My wife had read this before me and wanted to delete it so I wouldn’t see it. We had already stood before the church and it had been announced in all of our circles that I was going to be working with with this guy. My wife looked at me and said ” We are going in the faith that you will work for him.” We moved in January. When we got settled in our new house and got the e-mail up and going (which was about a week) there was an e-mail from him saying ” Hey I think I have some work we can do call me” Isn’t God awesome!!!!! God has continued to bless. I now work at a world class studio in Nashville and I’ve been here for 4 years. I’ll have to say it hasn’t been easy. I was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor last June. Things are fine and God is healing. Your music and testimony has indeed blessed me. I hope to get to meet you sometime. Until then, blessings to you and your household. Thanks for your obedience!

  2. Chris,
    Sometimes he takes us through a period of testing, not just to see what we’re made of and whether we can pass the test, but because he needs someone who CAN pass the test to do the task he has waiting on the other side. Keep trusting him and in his timing, you’ll see how he is preparing you for deeper service and fellowship with him. And enjoy Tennessee. I love Nashville. Some of the nicest people on earth there.
    God bless,
    Lauren Yarger
    Masterwork Productions

  3. Wow, Chris — my heart goes out to you and your family. What has happened since you wrote this?
    We are praying for you.
    His peace and joy be with you,
    Pat Kashtock

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