The proposal was a wonderful surprise and the engagement ring was beautiful. My mother and I had shopped together and found the perfect bridal gown. The date was set and invitations were ordered. But why did my soul feel unsettled? Deep in the pit of my stomach, I was uncomfortable and the joy had dissipated. One afternoon after my college classes were finished, I returned to my dorm room and fell on my knees beside the bed. I cried out to the Lord and asked Him to show me clearly what I should do and told Him I would listen to His voice, obey Him, and follow after Him. I begged Him to show me—should I stay in this engagement or should I break it and cancel the wedding? While on my knees that afternoon, I waited expectantly for God’s answer and I vowed I would obey Him.
As I have continued to read the book of Jeremiah, I’ve dug into my own guts to consider my personal waywardness, disobedience, defiance, and stubborn heart. Where do I ignore God’s message to me? The repetition of Israel’s negative response to God’s call to follow Him, obey Him, and yield to His plan is quite disheartening. But in reality and truth, we all can respond to God in a defiant and disobedient manner—we just don’t view our actions in that light. In chapter 37 of Jeremiah, we are told King Zedekiah did not listen to or heed the Lord’s message.
“Zedekiah son of Josiah was made king of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon … Neither he nor his attendants nor the people of the land paid any attention to the words the Lord had spoken through Jeremiah the prophet.” ~Jeremiah 37:1, 2
Yet Jeremiah, the Lord’s faithful prophet, continued to deliver the Lord’s message to the king and all of the people. Not only was he verbally mocked and scorned but he was arrested, beaten, put in prison, even thrown into a muddy cistern and left to die. On numerous occasions, various officials sought the king’s permission to have Jeremiah put to death.
“Then the officials said to the king, ‘This man should be put to death. He is discouraging the soldiers who are left in this city, as well as all the people, by the things he is saying to them. This man is not seeking the good of these people but their ruin.’ … ‘He is in your hands,’ King Zedekiah answered. … So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern of Malkijah, the king’s son, which was in the courtyard of the guard. They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud.” ~Jeremiah 38:4-6
Again, King Zedekiah sent for Jeremiah and questioned him regarding the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar’s army. The king swears to Jeremiah that he will not kill him or harm him if Jeremiah will speak the word of the Lord. And so, the prophet shares the Lord’s message.
“This is what the Lord God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, your life will be spared and this city will not be burned down; you and your family will live. But if you will not surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, this city will be handed over to the Babylonians and they will burn it down; you yourself will not escape from their hands.’ … ‘Obey the Lord by doing what I tell you.’” ~Jeremiah 38:17-20
King Zedekiah chose to ignore the message. All of the people as well as the king suffered greatly at the hand of the Babylonians. The city of Jerusalem was burned down. The king disobeyed the Lord.
Another similar scene unfolds in Jeremiah, chapters 42 & 43. The army officers and all of the people came to Jeremiah and asked him to pray to the Lord on their behalf. They wanted to know where they should go and what they should do. Jeremiah waited on the Lord and after ten days he received a word from the Lord. He called the leaders and all of the people to gather together to hear God’s message for them.
“If you stay in the land, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you … Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon … for I will save you and deliver you from his hands. I will show you compassion so that he will have compassion on you and restore you to your land.” ~Jeremiah 42:9-12
“However, if you say, ‘We will not stay in this land,’ and so disobey the Lord your God, and if you say, ‘No, we will go and live in Egypt …’ This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you are determined to go to Egypt and you do go settle there … there you will die.’” ~Jeremiah 42:13-16
In my memory, I visualize kneeling beside my dorm room bed. I’m praying, asking God to show me clearly what I should do. After a period of time, I knew the Lord had given His answer. It wasn’t an audible voice but it was crystal clear. The message was this: “Brenda, if you choose to stay in this relationship, you will not be walking in the center of My will for your life. However, if you will break the engagement, return the ring, and cancel the wedding, you will be choosing to walk with Me—you will be in the center of My will for your life.”
It was a defining event in my life! I remember looking at my two hands, slipping the diamond ring off my finger, and recognizing I had a clear choice at that moment—obey the Lord or turn my back on Him in disobedience. I got up off my knees and walked to the phone. Yes, I called him and broke our engagement.
On that afternoon, I chose to listen to God’s message and obey Him. I will note here that the Lord did not bring a godly man into my life for several more years. I had friends but I was not dating. There were times when I wondered if I had made a mistake but deep in my heart I knew God had spoken clearly to me. The Lord had a plan for me and He was preparing my future husband. Today, I can joyfully share that I’m so thankful that I waited on the Lord, listened to His voice, and chose to obey Him.
Where is your struggle today? Is God speaking to you, asking you to make a hard choice, to trust Him completely with the outcome? Sweet friend, He is so worthy of your trust. Lean into Him and take Him at His word. It is my prayer that we would seek His direction and then decide to walk in obedience to the Lord. He is faithful—trust and obey.
Faithful to the End – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tw8tYFh1JY