Don’t Seek Self-Preservation, But Seek Obedience To God

By: Richard Gazowsky

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Most of my life I’ve heard about different leaders who’d been brought into difficult positions, where every support system they depended upon was removed. God tested them at the rudimentary level of the thoughts and the intents of their hearts. But I never thought it would happen to me. For the last month or so I’d been going through some physical difficulties that required me to stay in my home most of the time and rarely travel anywhere outside. The condition continued to worsen until finally this week it came to a head. The pain was so intense that it made me, second by second and throughout the day, completely miserable.

When I asked God if I should take some medical relief for the pain, the Lord emphatically said, “No!” I realized, as did Job, that I just needed to go through it. And it appeared to me that it was going to go on for a long time. During this period I received an incredible prophetic word from a prophet, Timothy Snodgrass. One statement in the prophecy really stood out: “Rejoice! For whether He delivers you or not, your goal is not to save yourself but to please God.” As I contemplated Timothy’s words I was actually trying to endure a gale force of gushing pain rushing through my body. Believe me, self-preservation was the only thing on my mind.

Then I realized that the instructions from the prophetic word were showing me that it was time to shift my thoughts from self-preservation to obedience to God. Wow! Was this something that was going to be possible for me to do? I soon found out that it was. I began to seriously think about what I should eat, drink, and wear. All of life’s necessary functions that would happen each day, and what God wanted me to do at these most basic levels. In my present condition it seemed like climbing Mount Everest. At every turn I so wanted to drop the subject of obedience to God and deal with my own self-preservation.

As I sat for hours contemplating my situation, different pictures of characters in the Bible would flash through my mind. I realized that what I was going through was most likely similar to the rudimentary issue that leaders and men of God had undergone in biblical times. King Saul was faced with the situation, “Do I obey God and kill the Amelakites, or do I seek Israel’s preservation by keeping back the best of the livestock?” Peter dealt with a similar issue at a campfire inside the Roman palace. Does he obey the words of Jesus and confess his loyalty to Him, or does he preserve himself by denying a man who would end up dying on a cross? King David realized that he needed to be willing to lose his kingship by confessing and admitting his sin with Bathsheba, than preserve his reputation by hiding his sin. The same types of scenarios go on and on throughout the Bible and continue on to today, where leaders are faced with the same issues again and again ~ protect your reputation and preserve yourself, or fall and lose it all to obey God’s wonderful voice.

Never before have I seen this process so clearly and revealingly when it comes to you and I finding out what we are really made of. For me, it’s a lesson I pray to God I’ll remember the rest of my life. Though the message seems simple, it actually is a determination of one’s whole life. Jesus summed it up this way, “If you lose your life for My sake and the gospel’s then you will gain your life.” All of us learned about this when we gave our lives to Christ. We would have to continually die to self. But I think there is a big difference in hearing it and repeating it then literally coming the physical point of needing to do it ~ where you lose that which costs you something.

I know that this subject is not over with in my life. It’s something that I will face again and again. That’s why it is so vital I settle the question in my spirit today. I believe this is why God has taken so much trouble to set me in a place that would make the lesson so obvious. When God teaches us something it’s usually very simple, that even a child can understand. That’s the lesson I’m sharing with you today. It’s certainly uncomplicated in its application but has thunderous ramifications to the fortunate person who obeys it. Look at any great leader you see in the world today, and how many times they’ve been faced with the decision to obey the will of God versus self-preservation. This quandary is constantly plaguing the decision-making processes of known leaders. And so it is with my life and yours. We, too, will face these types of questions (especially the higher up the ladders of success we climb). May God give us the grace to always seek obedience to Him. “Rejoice! For whether He delivers you or not, your goal is not to save yourself but to please God.”

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Richard Gazowsky pastors a church in San Francisco called The Voice of Pentecost, and is also president of Christian WYSIWYG Filmworks. He has directed the films, “Guardians” and “The Roman Trilogy.”

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