We sometimes make the Christian life more complicated than it needs to be and more complicated than it ought to be. For when it comes right down to it, God calls us to nothing more, and nothing less, than to obey. The only thing that really matters in any context or any circumstance is obedience to God’s will as it is revealed in God’s Word. Thus it is always necessary, and never superfluous, to search the Bible to know the mind of God. Thus it is always right, and never wrong, to pray, “Lord, teach me to obey you in this.”
If God calls us to possess great wealth, then he calls us to live with great generosity toward others and great care toward the state of our own souls, knowing that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. It falls to us to pray that we would be obediently and faithfully rich.
If God calls us to possess scant wealth, then he calls us to live obediently with reliance upon him and trust in his provision, knowing that the God who clothes the grasses of the fields will much more certainly clothe those whom he loves. It falls to us to pray that we would be obediently and faithfully poor.
If God calls us to experience times of great joy, he calls us to enjoy them, to rejoice in them, to acknowledge them as a blessing from his hand, to eat and drink and take pleasure in the good things of this world and the good times in life, knowing that each is a gift from God. It falls to us to pray that we would be obediently and faithfully joyful.
If God calls us to undergo times of sore loss, we are to acquiesce, to raise hands of worship rather than fists of rebellion, to lament our sorrows but to never charge God with the least wrong. We are to pray our longings and fears, our sorrows and griefs but ultimately, like Jesus, to say “not my will but thine be done.” It falls to us to pray that we would be obediently and faithfully sorrowful.
If God calls us to experience great physical strength, we are to use that strength to love and support others, to bear their burdens, to use our strength to support them in their frailty. It falls to us to pray that we would be obediently and faithfully strong.
If God calls us to suffer weakness, then we are to undertake the kinds of ministry that weakness permits and invites—prayer, encouragement, love, support. We are not to see our weakness as the end of our usefulness to God but as the gateway to a whole new kind of usefulness. It falls to us to pray that we would be obediently and faithfully weak.
There is no circumstance in which God has nothing for us to do, no situation in which we cannot be faithful to his calling on our lives. He calls none of us to uselessness and calls none of us to another man’s life or ministry. He calls each of us to be obedient in the context he has ordained for us. For the end of the matter, when all else has been heard, is that we are to simply fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the sacred duty of every man, the kind expectation of a loving God.