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obedience precedes understanding

obedience precedes understanding

A professor once told me (quoting a church father) this adage about serving Jesus. He said, “Obedience should PRECEDE understanding…” I remember shifting uncomfortably in my seat. Was he serious…? It SOUNDS noble, but isn’t this a foolish and reckless way of approaching life? You see, I’ve dabbled long enough in business courses and lived in America long enough to become comfortable with risk assessment and playing it safe. I was that “former economics major, strategist, self-preserver, likes to plan and calculate to avoid risk if possible” guy. I want to know what temperature the water is before I stick a toe in. I want to know what the critics say before I go blow $10 on a possibly lame movie. I want to be omniscient….I want to be God.

Aren’t we all a bit restless with this notion? Isn’t there something in our fleshly subconscious that kicks and screams against this idea? Somewhere along the line, we can lose our childlike faith for adventure with God. Where once we were willing to jump the chasm on our bikes, now we calculate ER copays, damage and repairs for the bike, and decide that in the long run it may not be worth the risk. We’ve forgotten the rush of adrenaline, the heckling of the nay-sayers, and forging the uncharted territories that needed to be reclaimed in Jesus with reckless abandon. Like the faith of Abraham to leave the house of his Father and go to the land that God would show him. Risk has always been a significant element of our relationship with Jesus. One pastor described it this way…”worry is frustrated omniscience.” And that’s not the Gospel…and thank God it isn’t!

About 6 months ago, Paige and I discovered a restlessness in our own hearts. Agreeing long ago in our marriage that our own personal agendas are void and forfeit, Paige and I agreed to follow and submit to the Holy Spirit. If he said go, we were going to be ‘yes’ people. It’s the same voice that told us to return here after seminary. It’s the same voice that told Jean to leave Mississippi, and it’s the same voice that is comforting the congregation at Lagniappe that Jean just left in Bay St. Louis. And what we have recently found is this voice, the Holy Spirit, directing us to a new call away from Southwood.

This news is still incredibly painful for Paige, me, and our kids. Why? Huntsville is a place we could stay in until we died or Jesus came back. Our hearts have always been with the people and the mission of this congregation. We just got some new neighbors we were excited to live life with. We just got the staff High-Life needs to go forward in power. How is this the will of God? We’ve wrestled at length with all of these questions both with the Lord and other leaders and Pastors in the church. Even though our answer is difficult, it is simple…our obedience precedes our understanding.

Some of you will ask, ‘what is the real story?’ Are Jake and Paige being pushed out? Is there trouble at the Lodge? Have Ken and Jake taken each other off of their respective Christmas card lists? Is Jean cleaning house? Let me say candidly and unequivocally that there is no trouble at the Lodge or Southwood. Paige and I are endeared to Southwood, our Session, ALL of our Staff and community. No one apart from the Holy Spirit himself is calling us away and THAT is the real story. Please feel free to speak about this openly and without controversy. If this is indeed what the LORD is doing, then we should rejoice.

We are currently speaking with friends and churches who are looking for new pastors. And at this moment, we do not know where God will lead our family. The future is wide open. But on a more personal note, Paige and I are exercising faith in new ways and thankful that we are in the hands of a good God with a good grip. Please pray with us as we ask him to guide our process. We are and forever will be thankful for your partnership with us for the sake of Gospel. May the faith and righteous deeds of Southwood capture the attention of heaven’s courts.