How to Practice Obedience to God When He Doesn’t Satisfy Our Demands
Practicing obedience to God is an important lesson for Christians. When what God does is not in line with our will, how should we get rid of our personal requests and attain true obedience to Him? This is a truth that every Christian must seek. Once, Lin Qiang had complaints toward God because his demands weren’t granted by God, but how did he achieve obedience to God later? Read on to see …
Our compensation was misappropriated and land was occupied, I tried to get them back but to no avail.
One day, by chance, I heard from a fellow villager that one year ago a power plant had occupied some part of my family’s land, including our ancestral burial-ground, and paid 25,000 yuan in compensation, but all the money had been misappropriated by my cousin. In addition, now the government was surveying and mapping the contracted land of every household and then they would reissue the land certificates, and the third determination of collective land ownership was about to finish. My cousin, however, intended to have my family’s land, which we lent to him 30 years ago, registered in his name behind our backs. Besides, he had built pigpens on two pieces of our land several years ago, so that they were unable to be registered.
Knowing my cousin should keep us in the dark about these major things with which we were directly involved, I was so angry. But I thought of how I was a Christian, so I negotiated with him in a kind manner, hoping that he could return a part of the money to us, and said that 15,000 yuan would be fine. Yet my cousin swore like a trooper that he would give us only 10,000 yuan. What’s more, he had no intention of giving us back those two pieces of my family’s land on which he built farms.
With my negotiation proving fruitless, my family gathered again to find a way to deal with this situation, and then decided to return to our hometown to get back the other land that we lent to my cousin. However, only when we arrived there did we know that many parts of our land had been privately exchanged with others’, and they didn’t know us at all, so there was no way that they would ever agree to give the land back to us. Later, my brother-in-law advised that we tear down my cousin’s farm, but when I thought about how my mother and I were both believers in God and how using such means to deal with things wasn’t in line with the decorum of the saints, I didn’t take it. Then, we thought about solving it legally, but my elder brother disagreed with it, saying that if so my cousin would get a lawsuit and then our relationship with him would worsen, and that wouldn’t be good. … We thought of several methods but didn’t get a feasible one. Seeing that the land which belonged to my family was so hard to get back, I felt worried and upset, and my whole family found ourselves in this predicament.
Was my obedience to God sincere or not?
When we were at our wits’ end, all of a sudden God’s words came to my mind, “Where you will go every day, what you will do, who or what you will encounter, what you will say, what will happen to you—can any of this be predicted? People cannot foresee all these occurrences, much less control how they develop. In life, these unforeseeable events happen all the time, and they are an everyday occurrence. These daily vicissitudes and the ways they unfold, or the patterns by which they play out, are constant reminders to humanity that nothing happens at random, that the course of development these things take, and their inevitability, cannot be shifted by human will.” Pondering God’s words, I was somewhat awakened and came to realize that everything that was happening to us now was not incidental, but was under God’s orchestrations and sovereignty. I thought to myself: “Although my cousin, so ruthless and blinded by greed, intends to keep our compensation and land as his own behind our backs, God has made me know about it in time through the mouth of my fellow villager; otherwise, if we learned about this another several months later when the determination of land ownership is done, there would be nothing we could do. All this is God’s wondrous arrangement.” Thinking this, I was suddenly aware that when dealing with these things, I didn’t rely on God but just relied on my brains to think of this or that—this was why I got my nose rubbed in the dirt. I thought then, “Since God has let me learn about these things through the people and matters around me, He certainly will open up a path for me. As long as I leave this matter in His hands for Him to orchestrate and obey His arrangements, then I will be satisfied.”
With this in mind, I felt quite happy. Then I prayed to God, “O God, I know You are almighty, and we can achieve nothing relying on human methods. I only wish to entrust this matter to Your hands and obey Your orchestration and arrangement.”
Later on, my mother went to the committee office to find the village leader to help settle the dispute. The leader at that time promised to call my cousin over and mediate the dispute among us face to face, and he also arranged a meeting time and place with us. However, when my family arrived there as planned, we didn’t see the leader, and when we called him he didn’t answer his phone. We had no choice but to go to his home, but his wife prevented us from meeting with him by saying that he was drunk. Out of options, we went to my cousin’s house, only to find the door was tightly locked. Facing all this, I finally realized that the leader was treating us perfunctorily, and in fact he didn’t want to take care of this matter at all. My cousin had once said that he would give 10,000 yuan back to us, but judging from the fact of his avoiding us, he didn’t want to give us any of the money. After getting back home, I was filled with anger and hatred, hating the leader for telling lies to deceive us and hating my cousin for having no humanity and no conscience.
Keeping hitting dead ends made me feel at a loss. I couldn’t help but ask myself, “How could this be? I have entrusted this matter to God and have expressed my willingness to obey His orchestration and arrangement, so why have I not seen His deeds?” At this moment, I couldn’t help feeling somewhat disappointed in God.
Afterward, I saw God’s words, “You always make demands of God, you always demand that God do this and that in accordance with your own conceptions, you ask that God save you, have mercy on you, love you, and grace you in accordance with your own thinking. You make demands of God using your own thoughts and means, asking that He obey you. What is the issue here? Is this what it means to believe in God? The only thing you believe in is yourself. There is no God within your heart, nor any truth to speak of.” After reading God’s words, I suddenly understood the reason why I felt disappointed in God after I had not seen His deeds in this matter. It was because I made demands of Him and had no real obedience to Him. I recalled when I had committed this matter into God’s hands, I had hoped Him to help me solve it. It was for this purpose that I handed this matter over to Him and looked to Him, and became willing to obey His orchestration and arrangement. Now I saw that I had not been practicing obedience to God but had been asking Him to obey me and using Him to achieve my own desires. Coming to this realization, I thanked God for leading me to know my requirements of Him, and I was willing to betray my own desire, and let go of my imaginings and notions. No matter what God did, I wished to seek His will in the people, events and things that He laid out, submit to His sovereignty and guidance, and not blame Him. So I prayed to God, “O God, may You lead me to learn to experience this kind of people, matters, things and situations, so that I may achieve true obedience to You in this environment and gain true knowledge of Your sovereignty and arrangements.”
Rectifying my motives, I saw things took a turn for the better.
Soon after, I fellowshiped about God’s words with my mother, and we understood that the people, matters and things we encountered every day were all ruled over and arranged by God, and we were willing to learn our lessons with a heart of obedience to God on this basis, instead of single-mindedly wanting to get our compensation and land back. After our views were changed, unknowingly the situation turned around. One time when my mother went to the committee office again, she met the deputy village leader and told him that my cousin had misappropriated the compensation money for our family’s land. The deputy leader said in amazement, “So it’s your land? Then your cousin should return the compensation money to you.” He also said that if there was anything unclear to us, we could go to him anytime. Though we didn’t get things done at the time, we saw the situation took a turn for the better.
Tested again, I rid myself of impurities.
However, in the following days, although my mother had gone to the committee office many times, the village committee still didn’t take the initiative to mediate this dispute. Sometimes we got the leader, but couldn’t find my cousin, yet when we got my cousin, the leader went off. As a result, our problem never got resolved. Facing this situation, I couldn’t help but feel desolate: “Alas! It’s been over thirty years since we left our hometown. We have no connection to the village cadres. If the leader is in cahoots with my cousin and doesn’t resolve this problem on purpose, I’m afraid it’s hard to get back our money and land.” Then I was again living in distress as I thought, “Why do we always have so much trouble? I wonder if we’ll be able to get our land back.” This thought instantly brought on a pain in my heart and I didn’t dare continue in that line of thought.
I knew that my state was wrong, so I read God’s words with my mother again. God’s words say, “In his heart, Job profoundly believed that all he possessed had been bestowed upon him by God, and had not come off the back of his own labor. Thus, he did not see these blessings as something to be capitalized upon, but took holding on to the way that he should by tooth and nail as his living principles. He cherished God’s blessings, and gave thanks for them, but he was not enamored of, nor did he seek more blessings. Such was his attitude toward property. He neither did anything for the sake of gaining blessings, nor worried about or was aggrieved by the lack or loss of God’s blessings; he neither became wildly, deliriously happy because of God’s blessings, nor ignored the way of God or forgot the grace of God because of the blessings he frequently enjoyed.” From God’s words, I saw Job’s attitude toward property: Job believed, in his heart, that his property was not earned through his own toil, but was given to him by God. When his property was taken away from him, he was still able to obey God’s orchestration and arrangement, and didn’t make demands of God or blame Him. He always took walking in God’s way as his living principles. I saw that Job’s attitude toward property was really reasonable—he obeyed whether God gave or God took away, and considered walking in the way of God most important. After seeing clearly Job’s merits, I understood how to treat my property. Whether I could get the compensation money and land back was dominated and arranged in God’s hands. If the money and land couldn’t be returned, it showed that they didn’t belong to me and that they were not things God ordained for me; I then should stop struggling against my fate, and learn to let go and submit to God’s arrangement. Even if the money and land were predestined by God for me, I should not greedily enjoy these things, but should rank following God’s way as my number one priority at any time. After understanding God’s will, both my mother and I had faith to follow Job’s example. We were willing to practice obedience to the Creator and believed that no matter what God did, His good intentions must be behind it.
When I became wholly obedient, things turned around completely.
Afterward, we continued to go to the leader to see if he would mediate the dispute, but now our attitude was totally different from before. Every time we went to him, we would. We no longer asked Him to set up the surrounding environment according to our own will, and instead no matter what the result, we were willing to experience His work and practice obedience to Him. Surprisingly, when we practiced this way, things turned around. In the beginning, those people who exchanged their land with ours were unwilling to switch their land back no matter what, but now they took the initiative to have theirs back. Within a few days, we finished this thing smoothly. In addition, the village committee before had always acted in collusion with my cousin and avoided seeing us, yet now they stepped up and conducted mediation between us. In the end, my cousin paid 13,000 yuan compensation back to us, and gave us a rice paddy as the replacement of the land which he had built pig farms on. Up to then, all of our land had been returned. After accounting, it was verified that the amount of the land that had been given back to us was as large as the land that we lent to my cousin. On top of that, because the rice paddy that my cousin gave to us was right next to our original land, all the land of my family merged together, thus lying in broad stretches. Seeing that, my neighbor, whose land used for saplings was next to our land, rented ours. This way, it saved us from worrying when we worked outside of town.
Through this matter, I came to a true appreciation of God’s authority and sovereignty, and gained some pure knowledge of how we created beings should have obedience to the Creator. I truly experienced that God’s work is to use all sorts of things that are not in line with human notions to make us mature in life. This is God’s love for us. Thank God!