“Simple obedience changes history…” – Lindy Conant, Take Courage
These lyrics have really captured my heart as of late. It seems simple enough, and yet it’s profound. Here’s the whole bridge: “There’s a ‘yes’ in our hearts and it carries through eternity, simple obedience changes history.” I want to share just a few ways that our simple obedience as worshippers, on and off the stage, can change history.
It was May, 2011 and I was standing in my kitchen making coffee before work one morning, when I distinctly heard the voice of the Father saying to me, “Emily, it’s time to move.” That was all He said. At that time in my life I was definitely happy, very independent, single, working part time at my church which I loved, and also working part time in the makeup industry, which is another passion of mine.
Well, needless to say, I began praying into it. Though I really didn’t understand why God would want me to uproot and leave South Carolina, my best friend, my beloved and supportive church family, plus my parents and 2 sisters and their children, I told God I’d move wherever He wanted me to be. And God was so faithful. After I said ‘yes’ in my kitchen to all the unknowns, God gave me so many confirmations from both complete strangers and trusted individuals. Don’t get me wrong, I was still scared out of my mind to actually step out and go, but I knew I wanted to be obedient.
(1) Simple obedience opens new doors
In May of 2012, I moved to Arthur, Illinois with no plans to stay any longer than 3 months, because in my mind it was just a simple stepping stone to another city where I actually felt called to live. But God has a way of working things out in unexpected ways. By a total coincidence (I see you, Jesus) the makeup company I worked for just happened to open a brand new boutique in 2011 in Champaign, Illinois, and they were looking for someone with experience to help get things going. Meanwhile, the city I had my hopes on had zero opportunities with my company. Isn’t it crazy how God moves?! And so by God’s awesome grace, I transfered my employment to Champaign. It was such a smooth, God-breathed transition for my job that it might surprise you that my church transition was much more difficult. After moving I spent several months going to church, but not feeling connected or rooted beyond spending time with my family here. I loved the worship and ministry aspect, but something was missing. Can you guess what it was? Here’s the truth…. I wasn’t truly invested. I really wanted to belong, but I found myself being guarded, not even wanting to join a small group or meet in community. I sang background vocals on the worship team, but in the back of my head I thought, “wow, I just went backwards from my last position.” I think I wanted instant gratification. I wanted to lead worship in the way I had been doing it, and that’s not how they did it at the Vineyard.
I can look back now and tell you how incredibly thankful I am for the loving encouragement I received to finally get involved. I joined a small group and started to serve. I enrolled in the School of Kingdom Ministry (SOKM), went through Alpha, and attended conferences and so forth to better understand the heartbeat of the Vineyard. My eyes were widely opened, and in so many ways it brought me into a whole new awareness of Jesus and His pursuit of me, and how we all get to play. I learned about community and made so many friends, and eventually in 2014 began dating my husband, who was also serving at church. Honestly, if I had not taken the advice of others wiser than myself and allowed Holy Spirit to show me areas I needed improvement, I don’t know where I’d be today. Again, simple obedience changes history.
(2) Saying ‘yes’ empowers others
When I said ‘yes’ to uprooting and leaving my amazing church family in South Carolina, it actually opened the door for some amazing worship leaders that I had been mentoring to step up and into a more direct role on Wednesdays and Sundays. I remember watching them on the church’s live feed, co- leading worship months after I left, and thinking, “Aha! This is what it’s all about!” Not only did I have the privilege of mentoring them, but the Father orchestrated everything in His perfect timing.
Now, I’m not saying everyone should leave their church, but be open and sensitive to what area of obedience Jesus is calling you into. It may be as simple as saying ‘yes’ to leading a small group or mentoring an up-and-coming Worship Leader or musician. Remember that a little can be a lot when God is in it…
(3) Simple Obedience releases new ideas
Simple obedience also means being open to new thoughts and ideas during worship. That might mean going after new original songs, pressing into signs, miracles and wonders during worship, or perhaps taking time to just highlight what you see Holy Spirit doing in the room, to build and release faith. So often we are only seeing such a small part of what is actually happening in the atmosphere, but I guarantee you, our simple obedience truly changes history when we partner with Jesus and go after the stuff. I love what someone said about our church (which became a shirt slogan): “We are more good than weird.” I absolutely love it!
I truly think simple obedience does not have one particular formula, but instead it takes all of us being open and willing to hear His voice and seek His face, and do what He tells us to do. In these acts of faith and obedience we will see God open doors and possibilities for us. And as we boldy walk into the territory that God gives us, we make room for others to be powerful and fruitful as well. It’s in this atmosphere that we can partner with the Father, seeing what He is doing, and receiving his thoughts and breakthrough in our lives and communities. It all starts with ‘yes.’
“For there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.” – Trust and Obey, hymn