But be doers of the world and note hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like someone looking at his own face in a mirror. For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of person he was. But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who works – this person will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22-25 CSB)
I have this cat, Peanut. She’s really sweet and affectionate and gentle with children. But she is also just about the most annoying thing on the planet. She talks a lot – and by talking, I mean she chatters and squeaks and meows – but that’s not really the problem. In a house full of big talkers, I can hardly complain about that.
The thing that drives me up the wall about Peanut is that she is stubborn. Or lazy. Or both. I’m not really sure where the issue stems from, and I don’t have time for kitty therapy. All I know is that when I try to make her move – off my spot on the couch, off the dining room chairs at dinner time, off my leg when I’m trying to sleep at night – she refuses. But for all her flaws – I still love her.
Obviously I’m the human and she’s the cat, and eventually she’s forced to move. But she makes sure – every single time – to let me know how unhappy she is about it. It’s annoying. And, as sheepish as I am to admit this, it’s very similar to how I behave when God asks me to move. Perhaps these scenarios sound familiar to you, too:
Get up early to read my Bible? – But, God, it’s just so hard!
Reach out to that person who makes me feel uncomfortable? – But God! It’s so awkward! And I don’t like being awkward!
Apply for that job? Quit that job? Start that project? Move to that city? Stay here? – But, but, but… God! Do I have to? It’s so hard!
Try this new thing? Go to a new place? Talk to a new person? – Oh, I don’t’ know. I like how things are now. It’s comfy here, easy even. No thanks…
It doesn’t really matter what God asks of me. From small changes to big risks, my first instinct is to dig my claws into the couch and stay put, so to speak. Change is hard, and my comfort zone is soft and safe. So when He asks me to follow, my immediate response isn’t always one of obedience.
Nope, I can be as stubborn – and, let’s be honest, as lazy – as my cat. And that’s why I desperately need a season like Lent, where I’m reminded of Christ, who received and obeyed His mission – to come into the world and save it at great cost to Himself – without one word of protest. Yes, I desperately need this season to allow God to strip the sin from my life and prepare me for the works He has for me. This season is a time of humbling and sacrifice, but also a time of preparation. Just like Jesus spent time in the wilderness to prepare for His ministry, the time we dedicate to God during Lent is meant to propel us into action.
When it comes to this Lent season, I’m trying to listen right away and move in the way God is asking. It’s not easy, and sometimes I still act like my grumpy, stubborn cat. Like Peanut, I can be resistant to God’s nudging. To combat this, I often pray that He will use His Word and my time in prayer to give me the kick in the pants I need to move. I pray He keeps me mindful that no matter what feels safest to me in any given situation, the call to follow Him, to trust Him, and to obey Him is more important than my comfort.
Have you ever struggled to respond to God’s nudging? To be a hearer and not a doer of what He’s asking of you? Do you have a hard time leaving your comfort zone when God calls? Let’s pray that He uses this season of Lent to prepare our hearts for whatever He has planned for us. And when He answers, let’s move.
Dear God, forgive me. Forgive me for all the times I’ve been like a stubborn pet, oblivious to Your plans and refusing to move. Forgive me for being afraid to follow Your call, for being a hearer of the Word but not a doer. Lord, I want to be like Jesus when I’m sent an assignment from You. I want to move on it! I want to put my faith into action… but it’s hard. If I’m honest, I’m scared of the things You’re asking me to do. But I don’t want to walk away from this time with You and forget what You’ve taught me. Please help me obey. Give me courage and strength to answer Your every call. Help me put into action the love that You’ve shown me. Thank You, Lord. I love You. Amen.
This is an excerpt from Journey to the Cross: Forty Days to Prepare Your Heart for Easter, from the (in)courage community. If you are enjoying this series, you can purchase the book to experience forty days of encouragement and guided Scripture, reflections, and prayers.