“You may be surprised to discover that radical obedience is not really that radical. It is really biblical obedience—but we’ve strayed so far from biblical obedience that it now seems radical.”
from “What Happens When Women Say, “Yes” to God” by Lysa TerKeurst
I am not claiming that I am some kind of super Christian who has it all together, reads her Bible 5 hours a day, prays constantly and never sins. I am so far from that it is pathetic. What I am is a very sinful, stuborn, and selfish woman trying to “say yes to God” everyday. My husband and I have made some lifestyle choices that often seem radical or “out there,” even to other Christians. That is ok. You don’t have to agree with us or support us, or do the same things we do. Only you can make the decisions for your life and family, because only you will answer to God for them. So, we make the decisions that we feel called to make, we choose to say yes to God, even if it seems a little unorthodox, inconvenient or extreme. I am going to outline some of the decisions that we have made for our family and the scriptures that have inspired these choices. My hope is that it will make you stop and think. I don’t want you to change the way you do things because I said so, if you feel convicted by something I write here, go pray about it. Ask God to reveal his will to you concerning these things. Perhaps he is calling you to a more radical obedience in these ways, or maybe he is calling you to something completely different, you’ll never know if you don’t ask. But before you ask, make up your mind to say “yes,” no matter what it is he is calling you to do.
Living within our means:
This is probably one thing that doesn’t sound all that radical at first, and really it isn’t. As the quote at the top of the page says, radical obedience is really only radical because it so different from what the culture is doing. When we were still dating, Christian and I paricipated in a Crown Financial Bible Study. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for some financial guidance and I really wish I had done it at a much younger age. The study takes you through the Bible and studies what God says about money and finances, and yes, it goes way beyond titheing. One thing that we learned is that God does not like debt. There are numerous verses which state that being in debt is a bad thing.
“Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender”
Proverbs 22:7 (TLB)
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another(…)”
Romans 13:8a (NIV)
“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:…The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.”
Deuteronomy 28:1, 2, 12
“Do not be a man who strikes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you.”
There are many other passages I could list, but I think you get the idea. I wish I had known this before I got $14,000 of student loans. Fortunately, this is the only debt we have. So, we got rid of our only credit card and agreed that we would avoid debt if at all possible. Crown Financial suggests that a mortage is an “acceptable debt,” I will let you make your own decisions about that but we are renting for now with no plans to buy or build a house any time soon.
When I talk about modesty, I mean a modest lifestyle, not just modesty in the way we dress. As I mentioned before, we are committed to living within our means. We are also committed to living a simple, modest lifestyle. Currently, our family of three lives on about $1,500/month. That is expenses, not income. We are able to do this by being frugal and by choosing to live a modest lifestyle; not giving in to the “American Dream,” materialistic lifestyle. We have basic cell phones with minimal minutes, we don’t eat out much, we don’t have cable or satelite. The decision to live this way is not based on our income, but our desire to be good stewards of what God has blessed us with. We want to have extra so we can bless others. We also want to minimize the distractions and temptations in our life that take up time we could be spending in worship or quality time with our family.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is you spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
This is one of my favorite passages of scripture and it applies to everything I am talking about on this page. Radical obedience means not being concerned with the “pattern of the world.”
This is one of the things that I get the most feedback on because it is so visible to others. I make my clothing choices with four things in mind:
1) is it pleasing to God? – This should be the first question I ask myself, no matter what decision I am trying to make
2) is it pleasing to my husband? – modesty of dress is all about the situation, something that would be considered modest at home, alone with my husband may not be modest to wear to the grocery store. I seek to please my husband at all times and there are things that I own I reserve just for him. He likes to see me dressed conservatively when out in public. My choosing to hide my body from others lets him know that I value our relationship and am trying to protect the sanctity of our marriage by reserving myself for him and only him.
3) is it a temptation to others? – Is something I am wearing designed in such a way that it is likely to incite jealousy or lust in others? I have a responsibility to my brothers and sisters to not present myself as a stumbling block.
4) does it invoke vainity or a desire to conform in me? Something may be perfectly appropriate but still bring about a negative effect. I am prone to vanity, which is the opposite of the humble spirit God calls us to have. So, if I find myself falling into this sin, I’ll go change.
So, what this all normally boils down to is that I choose to dress in a way that is decidedly feminine, which honors God and my husband. In public, this means that I normally wear long, loose skirts and tops which show no more than my hand’s breadth of skin at the neck. I prefer elbow length sleeves. I choose to wear a head covering. This is a personal choice and based on my understanding of 1 Corinthians 11: 3-16. I encourage you to read this passage ( in multiple translations) and to pray for God to give you guidance and direction in this matter in your own life.
Also, I choose not to wear make-up, or dye my hair. This goes back to my issues with vainity. I feel that for me to try to change the way I look, to look better, implies that there is something wrong with the way I look to start off with. This then leads me to believe that there is something wrong, or at least unsatisfactory, with the way God made me. You see the problem here? If I believe that God is infallible, then I have to believe that he gave me my freckles, oily skin and ruddy complexion for a reason. To try to hide it, says that I am ashamed or unhappy. So, I try to take good care of my skin. I use a moisturizer with SPF 15 and I brush my hair to keep it healthy, but I do not try to change the color or to hide any of my “imperfections.”
Family planning…or not:
“Unless the Lord builds the house,
its builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchmen stand guard in vain.
In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat –
for he grants sleep to those he loves.
Sons are a heritage from the Lord,
children a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are sons born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
Theywill not be put to shame
when they contend with their enemies in the gate.
Psalm 127 (NIV)
All you who fear God, how blessed you are!
How happily you walk on his smooth straight road!
You worked hard and deserve all you’ve got coming.
Enjoy the blessing! Revel in the goodness!
Your wife will bear children as a vine bears grapes,
your household lush as a vineyard.
The children around your table
as fresh and promising as young olive shoots.
Stand in awe of God’s Yes.
Oh, how he blesses the one who fears God!
Enjoy the good life in Jerusalem every day of your life.
And enjoy your grandchildren.
Peace to Isreal!
Psalm 128 (the message)
When we were first married, I was on The Pill, mainly because that was just what newlyweds were supposed to do. We knew we wanted children but hadn’t really discussed a time frame. We had been married about six months when I heard a radio interview with Steve and Candace Watters, the authors of “Start Your Family: Inspiration for Having Babies.” They made the point that many Christians have fallen into the trap of viewing children the way the world views them. The “five year plan” is very popular these days, and the reasons most often given are things like: I want to get my career well established, We can’t afford kids, We want to travel, We want to buy a house, We want to pay off debt, We’re too young, or just We don’t want kids. We too had fallen into this trap. We had only been married six months, we wanted to have time to just enjoy being married for a while. We enjoyed sleeping in late on the weekends, strutting around the house in the nude and otherwise living up the new privilleges that come with being married.
After I heard Candace challenging believers to reconsider how they were viewing children, I got out my Bible to see what I could find. The two passages I have quoted above were the ones that really convicted me the most, though there are plenty of others. What I learned was the God loves kids! He sends children as a blessing and a reward. So, I brought what I had found to Christian and we talked and prayed about it. In the end we felt that to try to exert our own will over the timing and number of children we have is to say, “God, we don’t want your blessings,” or “Why don’t you bless us later.” What gives us the right to do that? It is hubris. So we agreed that we would no longer try to influence whether or not we have kids. We live life as husband and wife, and if God gives us children, great! if not, that is ok too. I went off the pill and six months later I got pregnant with Micah.
Because we only have one child right now, most people are not aware of our “quiverfull” convictions, so we don’t get much feedback. Christian’s sister asked me how many kids we wanted to have. I was six months pregnant with Micah at the time and I answered that we would have as many as God chooses to bless us with. Her response: “What if you have 12?” “Then we have 12.” I don’t think she believed me, or maybe she thinks we will change our minds once we have three or four.
After I had to have a C-section with Micah, Christian and I both were challenged in our committment to saying yes to God in this way. It is easy to say you will accept all the children God wants to give, before you have actually given birth. The day after Micah was born the doctor came to check on me and during the course of the discussion he asked what we were planning to do for birth control. I told him that we didn’t do anything to control our births. He immediately proceeded to explain that after a C-section it is very important that I not get pregnant for at least 18 months, especially if I want to try for a VBAC. I’m not gonna lie, some of what he said was kinda scary. Christian especially was concerned about my health should I get pregnant again immediately. While I certainly don’t relish the idea of having another c-section, we committed to follow God and part of that is trusting him to give us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it. He has promised that he will not give us more than we can bear, and we rely on that promise. Another passage from the book of Psalms was very encouraging to me in this:
“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
This was encouraging to me for three reasons: firstly, God knows me and the plans he has for me. It was all laid out for me long before I was born and I only have to trust him and choose to say yes to his plans. Secondly, the same is true for Micah and all of the children that I am going to have. He already knows them, and the plans he has for them. Their lives were “written in his book before one of them came to be.” Finally, he knows me inside and out, which means that he knows my hopes and fears. He is aware of our lifestyle, the size of our house and our income, and I am confident that whatever he does is for the best, he is not making these decisions blindly or without weighing the options. We may not know how many children we will have, but he does, and we are ok with that. Maybe Micah will be our only child, or maybe we will have a family to rival that of the Duggars. Either way, we choose to say yes.
I hope that you have found all of this encouraging. Again, if you feel convicted or confused by any of what I have written, please go to your Bible first and to God in prayer and ask for guidance and clarity. Then, if you have any questions for me, feel free to leave a comment. I leave you with the challenge to say yes to God today, regardless of what he is asking, say yes. How would you feel if Jesus had said no to the task God gave him to do?