I have always been more of an intuitive person and learned at an early age to trust my gut. If I got uneasy in a situation or place I found myself in, I got out of there, no questions asked. My mom described the sensation as the “uh-oh” feeling, and it saved me from some very painful and scary scenarios that I could only see in hindsight. I believe deeply that my “uh-oh” feeling is the Holy Spirit trying to tell me something, and even as a kid, I listened when it called.
As I grew up, I became aware of another kind of feeling deep in my gut. This one I call the “YES!” feeling. The first time I really felt it strongly was when I saw Lew for the first time. When I watched him playing guitar in the worship band that Sunday morning, everything within me said “YES!” My gut was telling me, quite adamantly, that this was the kind of guy I was supposed to marry. So when he asked me to court him, and then to marry him, I had no reservations. A few short months later, we were walking down the aisle, barely 20 years old, in a church full of people who thought we were a little bit crazy.
Sometimes the things God asks us to do are crazy. They don’t make rational sense to anyone else around us, and we can be left feeling uncertain. “Did God really want me to do this?” “How am I going to explain this to everyone?” God knows that some of the things He asks His people to do sound crazy. Just think about crossing the Red Sea, marching around Jericho, or choosing the lion’s den instead of skipping a few prayers. God knows that He asks us to do hard things, things that the world would never understand, because He longs to reward our radical obedience with abundant blessing.
In Malachi, God asks His people to tithe in a big way, to make the risky decision to set aside large portions of their livelihoods, so He could show them how He rewards those who obey Him fully. I am sure that their foreign neighbors and even foreign wives told them how foolish they were being. It would have taken some radical faith on their part to follow through and obey God on this. But, oh the blessing! God cannot lie, so we know that if they were faithful in this act of radical obedience, God would have been faithful to open those heavenly windows and pour out the blessing He had promised.
God has not given us the same specific promise He gave to the Jews in Malachi’s day. We are not specifically promised an overflow from heaven if we bring a full tithe to church on Sunday. However, we can learn about the heart of God to reward our obedience to Him even when, especially when, the world around us thinks we’re crazy.
A few years back, as Lew and I were sitting in our newly built house in Scio, living the small-town dream life I had been working toward for many years, I felt a nudge deep in my gut. Lew was reading a job posting for a church down in Eugene. It was as if time stopped, and God gave me a choice, right then and there. He showed me the life I could choose if we stayed right where we were. We would live in a beautiful, custom built house, my kids would grow up in the same small-town community I had, we would take daily walks to the library and would be five minutes down the road from my parents. It would be the idyllic American dream, or we could jump into the unknown. We could sell the house, move to a city I had never been to, leave our families behind, and spend an unforeseeable number of years back in an apartment. All of this to join a church family we had never met.
But with the risk of obedience, God also gave me an invitation to blessing. He didn’t tell me what it would be, but as the “YES!” feeling in my gut began to grow, so did my expectation of all He could do if only we chose to be radically obedient at this crossroads in our life. I told Lew he should apply for the job, and here we are, almost four years later, reaping a crop of blessing and growth 100 fold greater than I could have even dreamed.
Now, I know that not everyone is like I am. My husband does not get gut feelings about things the way I do, but that does not make him any less able to discern and obey God’s will for his life. I also make sure to double check my gut feelings against God’s Word, and I never follow one that isn’t backed by solid Scripture. But over the years, as I have prayed, studied God’s Word and asked Him to give me His wisdom, I have become more and more in tune with His will for my life and directing for even everyday moments. Some people might think it is crazy that I am trying to tune in to this Holy voice inside me, but I think it would be crazy to live my life ignoring it.
Is God asking you to do something that seems a bit nuts? I will tell you from experience that despite the stress, despite the unknowns, despite the ridicule from those around you, obeying God is worth the risk every time. Maybe this is your sign to stop ignoring the Holy Spirit in your gut or His Word in the Bible, and just do that thing He keeps asking you to do. I know it might feel like jumping off a cliff, but people have made base jumping into a sport. So, it can’t be that bad, right? And even just being forced to cling to God in the unknown might be blessing enough to warrant the jump.