I know I haven’t written in a while. I haven’t really known what to say, but something has been heavy on my heart and I feel as though I should share it with you. Jonathan was a great leader, especially at home. He led by example. He taught me so much about true obedience. He wanted to be obedient to Christ at all costs. Let me give you a few examples of how just in the past year he helped me do this. Last summer (2008) we made a move from Gainesville to Lavonia to pastor Shoal Creek. We had been praying about this for some time. We had prayed, okay God, if you give Abby a job we will move. Jonathan came to me one day and said that he felt that we were saying to God that we would only be obedient to His call if it was financially secure and that he felt that we should go regardless of whether or not I had a job . . . so that is what we did. It didn’t make sense and a lot of people thought we were crazy. At the end of July, just before school started, a job miraculously appeared at Stephens County High School, by the grace of God.
Another example: The trip to Zambia. Jonathan and I were so excited when we decided to go together to Zambia. Not long after we made that commitment, we found out that we were expecting our first child. This trip could potentially put our child in danger with vaccines, diseases that could be contracted, the long plane trip, etc. I couldn’t even use bug spray! Again, it didn’t make sense for me to go and people thought we were crazy, but again Jonathan said, Abby, we cannot say to God that we will only be obedient to You if it is safe for us. Jonathan reassured me that God knew I was going to get pregnant when we felt as though He wanted us to go, should we change our decision to be obedient now? So, Jonathan, our baby, and I went to Zambia and made it back completely unharmed (except for the bug that Jonathan got).
When I was struggling with this decision, Jonathan brought me this scripture. I feel as though God was preparing me for what was coming in the future. Jonathan used the scripture to teach me that even if we did suffer in some way by going to Zambia, it was for the sake of Christ and we would be blessed for it.
14But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." 15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
-1 Peter 3:14-17
I felt that God was telling me that Jonathan and I would suffer for some reason in the future. Honestly, I assumed it would be in relation to our precious child we were expecting in February and prayed that God would not take this child that we had prayed for so long. I never imagined that I would suffer the loss of my wonderful husband. I especially never imagined that Jonathan would have to suffer what he did. However, based on the scripture above, I know that Jonathan will be blessed for his suffering and is being blessed now for being obedient regardless of what it cost him. I am proud to have been his wife and bear his name. I will always be thankful for his spiritual leadership and for teaching me to be obedient even in the face of suffering. I will never understand why God did not spare us this tragedy. I will never understand why our child will never truly know how wonderful his father was this side of Heaven. I will never understand why God allowed us to suffer so . . . but I do find comfort in knowing that hopefully soon, Jesus will return to take His children home and I will see my beloved Jonathan never to be separated from him again. We will be able to worship Jesus together forever, which is something that we loved doing.
I want to extend a challenge to anyone who reads this blog. Don’t be afraid to be obedient to Christ. Don’t put stipulations on your obedience. Obedience is not true obedience if you have an attitude of “I will be obedient as long as it is financially secure or physically safe.” I think this is especially hard for most “American” Christians who are more than likely the top 5% richest in the world. Don’t be afraid of God’s calling on your life. You will be rewarded for your willingness to obey, maybe not in this life, but for eternity in the next. Use the scripture above as an encouragement from Jonathan himself to be truly obedient!
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