When God says Go, we can’t say No.

What I learned about obedience from serving in a natural disaster

I made the fated phone call on the long drive home from dropping my daughter at college to begin her Freshman year. In hindsight, maybe my timing wasn’t the best!  I was drained physically and emotionally – goodness knows we’d been preparing for that day for the better part of a year.  What I wanted to do was stay home and lick my wounds.  Or sleep for a week.

But is there ever a “good time” to drop everything and follow God’s leading?

Several weeks before, I said to my husband, “I’ve been wanting to serve with Mercy Chefs for a year and a half, will you help me make that happen sometime?” (mistake number one: I assumed “sometime” would be in the distant future.  Not two weeks later! God must have heard that conversation, LOL).

Mercy Chefs is a non-profit that comes alongside victims of natural disasters and the first-responders who serve them, by providing nourishing, hot meals.  Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Rockport, TX as a category 4 storm stretching 200 miles wide with up to 130 mph winds—on the Friday morning we were dropping our second child at college.  It was all over the news…and I knew Mercy Chefs would respond quickly.

So Saturday at 5 p.m., I made the phone call, asking if they needed help, and waited to hear.  In the meantime we donated money online.  Box checked.  I didn’t really think I was going anywhere.

By 8:30 p.m. the next day I was careening down the road between Albuquerque, NM and Rockport, TX, my truck filled with donations and a makeshift bed in the back, and piles of water strapped to the roof.  My friend and I were literally heading to “ground zero” of Hurricane Harvey, completely unsure what to expect at the end of that 14 hour drive.  (It was probably a good thing we didn’t know what to expect when we got there or we might not have gone!)

There were many provisions and signs in those 24 hours that compelled me get over myself, climb in my truck and go:

  • The amazing people who run Mercy Chefs responded with a resounding YES they could use my help (Sunday 8 a.m.)
  • A Sunday Sermon (10 a.m.) about stepping up even if we feel unequipped and unqualified.  (Yes. and yes, on so many levels…bad back, long drive, sad about daughter, never been to a disaster, no hotels…)
  • Another Sermon theme: sometimes we are called to be obedient even if we only have 12% of a plan! (What if it’s only 5% of a plan???)
  • My husband was in between jobs and could stay home with our 16 y/o daughter.
  • An empty calendar for 10 days.  (Remember, I was going to be sleeping and licking my college drop off wounds.)
  • A handy hubby who made a platform for the back of my truck  so I could lie down for the long drive to preserve my back.  (4 p.m.)
  • The ability to drive because Texas airports nearby were closed or cancelling flights.
  • A friend to JOIN ME! When she heard I was going, she dropped everything within 8 hours and came with me.
  • Church friends who shopped and delivered donations of diapers, water, formula, and rain jackets with short notice!  (5 p.m.)

But mostly, the reason I went was this:  When I hear God say go, I don’t want to say no.

Going to Texas was an act of obedience, not a heroic selfless act of service.  Many people have praised me (undeservedly) for going, but honestly, I didn’t go necessarily because I wanted to, I went because I felt God called me to.  If it had been up to me, I’d have been sitting on my couch watching Netflix and eating Chocolate in my jammies.

Did God hear me say I was thinking about it, and provide a natural disaster just so I could go?  No.

But does God hear us when we are trying to step out in faith and trust him? 

And will he make a way if we have even an inkling of desire to follow his call to love others in their hardest times? 

Yes.  Absolutely Yes.

What I learned and witnessed and experienced in Rockport, TX for those next 8 days CHANGED ME.  I’m still processing all that God did in my heart and in the lives of others we served. I promise I will write more about all that in the coming weeks.  {If you want a sneak peak of my experience here’s a short video I filmed on site in Rockport}

But what you need to know for today is this: When you show up to your life with a willingness to follow where God is leading, you can be sure he will take you places.  He will provide for you, he will sustain you, he will go before you and come behind you, and you will never go alone.

Obedience is always a good idea—even if it leads you straight into a disaster zone!

Note:  As of this writing (10.3.17) Mercy Chefs has served continually for over 5 weeks between Hurricanes Harvey (Texas), Irma (Florida) and Maria (Puerto Rico.)  To support this worthy cause, you can donate online TODAY and make an immediate impact on the lives of those tragically affected by these tropical storms.  You can also follow them on Facebook or Instagram to stay updated on their latest efforts.

Sarah Beckman inspires people from the stage and on the page. She is the bestselling author of Alongside: A Practical Guide for Loving your Neighbor in their Time of Trial, which is filled with practical tools to love people well in the rough patches of life. Sarah speaks to audiences across the country on topics such as loving your neighbor, sharing your faith, safeguarding your marriage and digging up your talents.

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2 thoughts on “When God says Go, we can’t say No.

  1. I love this Sarah. It was a blessing working with you in Rockport and we will cross paths again in the future I am sure.