This is Part 2 of the Unseen Fruit of Obedience Series (Part 1 was titled “Go Tell Him I Love Him”)
I woke up as the hurricane struck right outside my window. It was 4am, and the wind howled like a pack of a thousand wolves. I was awake almost instantly, wondering if the walls would hold or if they would give way to the ferocity outside my window.
I guess I should clarify. It wasn’t hurricane season, and I was in my bed in Northern Virginia, and we don’t get hurricanes here at all. So I guess it wasn’t really a hurricane. But it was the hurricane equivalent for a land-locked area in the dead of winter. I suppose I could just call it strong wind.
So there I was, with the strong wind threatening to knock down our walls, and I found myself in one of those situations where I felt like God was speaking to me. The previous night, my mom and Anna and I had gone to see The Blind Side, the story of a wealthy, white family taking in a young, black man who was in need. It was a beautiful story; when we left the theater, both Anna and I were on the lookout for someone to adopt—we were that moved. So at 4am, it seemed as if God was asking me to get up, get in the car, and go for a drive.
I’m overly sensitive to prayer right now. I’ve been reading Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, in which he talks about the spiritual disciplines with a depth I do not know, and I’m thinking he’s either on to something with this book or he’s a nutter. I lay there in bed, with an image of the little neighborhood market from the previous story in my mind. I decided to just go for it, believing God was capable of sending me back to bed if He wanted.
As I left our apartment complex, I began thinking I might be crazy. What was I doing out here? It’s 4am; nobody’s awake but me. But I drove anyway, got to the market, and found no one. I walked around the entire building—still no one. So I got back in the car. Another store in the area came to mind, so I drove there. Still no one.
I began thinking this was all a mistake, that I’m hearing things in my head that aren’t from God. I began to question whether or not I could even hear from Him at all. I suppose crazy people don’t get up at 4am to go look for someone to take in or share the gospel with, so maybe that means God was in this after all, but then again, maybe they do.
I don’t want to have an Unseen Fruit of Obedience series. In one sense, obedience with no visible payoff tends to cast doubt in my mind the next time I think I hear a command to obey. But in another sense, I feel a peace that God is working in my life and that He’s doing a thousand things I cannot see. My job is to keep obeying.
This story actually ended with disobedience. As I drove back to my house, I went by the neighborhood market once more, and I saw a Papa John’s delivery truck in the parking lot, and it seemed God told me to go over and ask the delivery man if there was some reason God would have sent me to him that night. After 10 minutes of sitting there, I bailed.
Maybe things would have been different if I obeyed. Maybe not. But I learned two things that night. First, God has compassion for those in need. The blistering winds that night made me think of all the people in our city and in the world who need a place to stay, and I feel impotent to help them, but I don’t want to ignore the question I posed to God as I sat in my car: “What can I do?” Second, God produces fruit I sometimes cannot see when I obey. How do I know this? I don’t—but I believe it all the same. “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
I want to abide in Christ, so that I might bear much fruit for His glory and my joy, whether it’s fruit I get to taste and see or it’s fruit that God is producing in ways I’ll never know about. God grant me the grace to live this kind of life, even if it’s at 4am.
Question: How do you react when you obey God and see no immediate payoff?