Yesterday I finished reading The Doctor’s Lady by Jody Hedlund, the book I was going to review this week. I will get to the review as soon as I can, maybe even tomorrow. But, for now I’m chewing on some thoughts related to the story.
The Doctor’s Lady is a fiction novel based on the westward journey of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, missionaries to Indian tribes in what is now Washington state. The novel does not pretend to be a biographical account; the Whitmans’ names are even changed in the novel to prevent a misunderstanding. But, although the details of the novel differ from the real-life account, several facts are woven into the novel, including the fact that Marcus and Narcissa Whitman married out of a sense of obedience.
Both Marcus and Narcissa felt drawn to missions. But, the Mission Board would not send single missionaries. So, in order to fulfill their desires, both needed to marry. They apparently did not fall in love because of their common interests. They simply saw that they both carried the same passions and chose to embark on the journey together since they could not do it separately. So, they married for “convenience” – the convenience of following what they believed to be God’s will for their individual lives.
I’ve heard several such stories in my life. Stories of men and women who made decisions very differently than we would today. They made their decisions based on their understanding of God’s will. Some were wrong in that understanding, to be sure. Many horrible things have been done under the assumed banner of “God’s will” which were obviously very contrary to the nature and will of God as revealed in Scripture. But, many others – people whose hearts were truly and fully devoted to their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – have made decisions of obedience that would make our heads spin. Decisions to marry. Decisions to leave loved ones. Decisions to undertake seemingly impossible tasks. Even decisions to willingly give their lives. All out of obedience.
All of this is very convicting to me. I make decisions based on prayer, true. But, there are so many things that I do naturally based on what is culturally ingrained in me. I don’t even stop to think about obedience. I make decisions based on emotion and expectations.
What if that were to change in my life? What if more and more of my decisions were based less on what I feel, less on the societal norm, and more on pure obedience? What would that look like?
I honestly don’t know. It’s a bit unsettling to think about how deep the impact could be. But, I hunger for my mindset to change. I hunger to live more out of obedience than anything else. I pray I am bold enough to not back down from that challenge when reality goes against all that is normal and familiar for me.