Theothelophobia: fear of God's will
Okay, so I did a little research into the greek and made that term up. But even though I made the term up, I think there are a lot of us who suffer from theothelophobia. Especially in a culture like ours, where prosperity is easy and by all looks and appearances our good fortune seems to be of our own hand, it is easy to gradually slip away from seeking God's will and instead start seeking and serving our own will.
I know I fear God's will often. It doesn't usually keep me from doing as He asks of me, but I expend a lot of energy fretting about what is going to happen to me and whether or not I'm equipped to do what He asks. I freak out about what others will think of me, whether this latest outrageous thing I'm doing, "because God said to", is going to make those around me think, "yep, Jenny's finally gone off the deep end". And the scary part is that it seems like the more daring things God asks me to do and I follow through on, the more daring His requests become.
After being baptized, the first "crazy" thing I did because I felt like God was telling me to was to get two flat rate mailing boxes, fill them up with food, and send them to random addresses in Nunam Iqua, Alaska. I had read a news article where it talked about this tiny village in Alaska and how a particularly harsh winter, and the subsequent heating bills, had left many of the villagers so poor that they couldn't buy food. They were a fishing village, but the ice was so thick on the waterways, they couldn't get through it to fish. To make matters worse, the only form of transportation able to get in or out of the village was the USPS plane that delivered mail once every few weeks, so there wasn't even food on the shelves to buy. God prompted me to mail this food to them and I felt like I was crazy. Besides the idea being so odd, we had just moved into a new house ourselves and barely had the money for extra groceries beside cereal and ramen noodles. But I did it. Then the fretting began.
I freaked out. What if these people thought I was some kind of weirdo and didn't want to eat the food for fear I poisoned it or something? What if someone had an allergic reaction to something in the boxes, died, and their family tried to sue me? What if it was illegal and I didn't know it? I had looked for the address of a church or food pantry to send them to, but couldn't find anything like that in the village. There were only house addresses, a general store address and the post office. For three weeks, I fretted that somehow God's will would come around and bite me in the backside.
Then I got a phone call. I usually don't answer calls with an out of town area code, but for whatever reason, I picked this one up. The lady on the other end asked, "Is this the Jenny Wright in Williamsburg, OH that sent boxes of food to Nunam Iqua, Alaska?"
My heart started beating out of my chest in abject terror as I replied, "Yes."
"I just wanted to let you know, I run the post office here and we got your packages. We weren't sure what to do with them because both people you sent them to have died, so we opened them, read your letter you enclosed, saw they were food and took them to the local pastor to distribute. Thank you."
And that was it. I have no idea what else came of it, but I was obedient and God was with me. He doesn't guarantee that everything He asks us to do will go well or won't harm us, but He does promise to be there with us. As God asks me to do scarier and scarier things that I feel lesser and lesser equipped to do, I'm finding that Moses' words to Joshua in the following passage bring me great comfort.
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."-Deuteronomy 31:6,8
I still fear every morning when I recommit myself to living in submission and obedience to God that it will be the morning that God says, pick your family up and move them to China or Pakistan or wherever dark and scary place in the world and prepare to have your family executed for the sake of spreading the Gospel. So far, He hasn't asked that of me. But He has asked me to share really painful details about myself to the whole world. He's asked me to lead by example at the risk of alienating all the people who care about me. He's asked me to give up things I love for His cause. He's even asked me to do things that hurt me really, really bad. But I know through all those, He has been right there beside me, and not just beside me, but He goes before me. Even when I feel all alone because I'm leading by example down a path of uncharted territory, God is still with me, charting my course before I even step the first foot onto the path.
The truth we must remember is that following God's will, even if it hurts us, is a greater blessing than anything we can do by our own hand. Having the Lord God beside us, creating our path every step of the way, is so much greater than living in a warm house, having a brand new whatever, and is even greater than our own safety. I would rather die doing God's will than live a long life, far removed from Him.
There is no reason to be theothelophobic.