The Deadly Truth About Living Wild Obedience

Two nights ago I stood at a podium in front of a room full of women at the Declare Conference.

I trembled.

I’d spent the day preparing for the final keynote of the conference, but it wasn’t a bad case of nerves that made me quake.


It was the message.

Wild obedience.

The words were splayed behind me in bold letters. Every session, every message was built around the theme, written on cute cards on the tables, temporary tattoos and across the top of my notes.

I’ve never been wild a day in my life.

I don’t have stories that would shock you.

I’m not a risk-taker.

I’m not brave.

I’ve always been a rule follower.

And safety has been my favorite.

I think that’s why my story is surprising.

Because when you understand how afraid I am, you understand just how far wild obedience can take you. I am not brave. I’m the last person in the world who should be doing what I do.

I always knew I wasn’t wild, but it’s taken me most of my life to discover I wasn’t always obedient either.

When I was 12 years old, I had been in church a decade already. I was raised there. I had every Christian t-shirt, knew every Bible story, attended every Bible study offered. I wore a rhinestone Jesus pin to high school and the campus Bible club.

From there I went to Bible College, married a pastor and attended church staff meetings-all good, but somewhere along the way, I got fat, I was full of faith, comfortable.

I started buying into the American dream and I stopped obeying God.

And the more comfortable I got, the emptier I felt.

I had everything.

I had nothing.

I woke up in a slum in Kenya. I wrote every excruciating broken piece of my journey in Rhinestone Jesus.

And for the last 5 years, I’ve been learning that wild obedience will demand that you leave the safety of the shore and push out into deeper water.

Wild obedience will take you to impossible places. It doesn’t demand experience or education.

Wild obedience will stretch you and make you uncomfortable. It will cost you more than you want to give up, but it will give your more than you’ve ever had.

Wild obedience will point you to your purpose in life and fill you with peace. It will replace your carefully planned life with audacious faith and impossible dreams.

Wild obedience will insist that you Get alone and be with God.

Wild obedience will rescue you from you.

But as I heard my own words, I couldn’t help but think about the images of children reportedly being beheaded in Iraq or recall the headlines screaming “Convert or Die” to believers on the other side of the world.

iraq children

While I’m eating chocolate cake at a Christian conference about wild obedience, there is a Christian genocide happening. While I’m worrying about first world problems at home, things that don’t matter–crimes against humanity are going on.

It’s easy to talk about it, write about it, build a conference around the bold statement–but with a gun to my head, could I live it? Would I allow my innocent child to be murdered for my wild obedience?

I don’t know.

Iraq is far away. It’s easy to turn the news off and even easier to turn away from the truth.

It’s easy to keep living like people aren’t dying.

Our yes to God could lead us into unthinkable situations, even into danger. But we are not called to be safe, we are called to be obedient.

Because obedience is safe. 

Our faith demands we do more than believe and talk about it. We cannot look away or pretend it’s not real.

We must boldly live what others are dying for.

God have mercy on the dying and the living.

That’s the truth about wild obedience.




  1. 1

    Karen says

    I can’t even seem to live in obedience….so wild, today, seems out of the question. Yesterday, I kept driving when I should have stopped……and to make it even worse, I joked about why I kept going. Today my grief is heavy. Thankful that God is full of grace and I pray for open eyes to see the next opportunity and the desire to do something about it!

  2. 2


    Wow, this post cut me to the quick… It hurt to read because in some ways it could have been written by me. Of course your story is not my story but I can see myself in it… I too and a “rule follower”, I am willing to take risks but generally not ones that break too many rules, but I am not obedient to the level I am called too. Too often I take my eyes off Jesus and focus on temporary things… Thank you for sharing… I needed your words today.

  3. 3


    Kristen your message was stunning and Jesus filled and gritty and honest. It moved us. I could see it moved you too – which means so much to those who hear it! Thank you for being brave and leading us well.

    So much love for you and Mercy House. What God has begun – this work, He will complete it!


  4. 4


    Oh Kristen. I’ve just returned from Africa.. 3 weeks covering a project dealing with the HIV/AIDS epidemic and a water project/ micro-grant enterprise as well. Three weeks (not my first trip) and then coming home to the reality of all the headlines.. the recognition of the sacrifices that will be made and will never make the headlines…. I so get this. We as a community, as a body of Believers– on the whole have lost our grip on “first things”. How can we pull our weight properly? Sweet Jesus help us. Thanks for continuing to hold it down in your corner of the blogosphere.

  5. 5


    I struggle with this too. The church we go to does so much with the community and on missions trips, but it still seems so little. Our yes is on the table, where ever that leads.
    Thank you for your honesty and allowing God to use you!

  6. 6

    kelly says

    I too am a ruler follower…I don’t do the unsafe..I don’t do ANYTHING that puts myself or my family in any non safe way…except my children love to do mission trips…they go to “some” places that are a little bit unsafe..DEFINITELY different than their own lives and see some sort of unhappy, unsafe family lives and towns….but not terrible is that?? that my children will go to areas with youth groups and yet I do not sign up to be there..I let my husband do it. I cannot handle the terribleness of these peoples/children’s lives and only doing just a “little bit”.
    How can that be at all helpful I ask? How do I ask myself to take that risk have a hurt heart and that be enough? I don’t know…but I am VERY slowly working my way towards it…My church is once again doing a Serve 2014 in September…I have signed up. I will be doing some crafty things which I do LOVE to do..I was asked to be apart of a group that knew I like crafts.
    Its not visiting a not so safe neighborhood or visiting with sick or hurt people but its IS a step.
    I want to help and be apart of this..I WANT Jesus to be proud of me and not be ashamed of me because I can’t get out of my safe zone..and who knows maybe one day I WILL be able to do some of those wonderful things you do Kristen….leave the apart of the solution.
    You inspire me.

    • 6.1


      Hi Kelly, I hope it’s okay that I (a random person) reply to your comment.

      I loved going on overseas missions because my husband and I are adventurous at heart. That’s who we are so Africa was a given. It’s a lot harder for me to live my life here in a suburb of Paris (our home – this is not a mission in the typical sense of the word) and be wildly obedient HERE. To share my faith on the metro. To bring dinner to a neighbour whose wife is dying. To be submissive and gentle to someone I would rather be critical of and/or swear at. (Yes. That. Although I don’t do it).

      I just wanted to encourage you – if encouragement it is – that you can be wildly obedient right where you are. God doesn’t need everyone to focus their mission elsewhere. He just needs everyone to focus their mission somewhere.

      Beautiful post, Kristen. xo

  7. 7


    It was a pleasure to meet you, and a blessing to hear you speak at Declare. And as for your post, I was and still am struggling over the same tensions and have been asking myself similar questions. There are no easy answers, nor easy obedience. But this, “…obedience is safe.” Yes. Being in the middle of right where God wants us is safe, but not by our definition. May God stretch us.

  8. 8


    Oh, Kristen, what a blessing to meet you this weekend at Declare and an even greater blessing to hear your message on Sat. evening. What a perfect message to end such an inspiring weekend. You have stirred my heart and I don’t even know where to start in being wildly obedient but I’m praying He will show me one small thing at a time. Richest blessings as you go forth in His name!!!

  9. 9

    Dawna says

    Every time I click on one of your posts, it scares me. Not you, of course, but what Jesus might ask of me because of it. Never having been a person who runs to pain or danger, this whole change in my attitude shocks me, but it just keeps blossoming. We’re hoping to lead our women’s ministry through your book next year and see where it takes others as well. Thanks to you for doing it all, scared.

  10. 10



    I am with you. I am not brave. Not obedient. Not worthy. But I’m coming to realize, just as you have, that obedience IS safe. Obedience is freedom.

    May God continue to teach us both how to simply follow Him… and leave the bravery, the safety, the risk-taking in His hands.

    Thank you, for the deep deep blessing of your message at Declare. You spoke right to my heart. xoxo, Michelle

  11. 12

    Kelly Arabie says

    Your words this weekend were powerful. Reading them again is helpful, and I have much to chew on. Thank you for inviting me to wrestle with the truth: “We are not called to be safe. We are called to be obedient.” I’m gonna keep asking Jesus what this looks like for me. But I got at least one answer to “God, what’s my Wild Obedience?” this weekend. And you were part of that. Thank you.

  12. 15

    Christina says

    I join the ranks of low risk taking people. While in high school, my daughter often talked about moving to Africa. Scared me to death, because she meant it. Made me cry when talking about God’s care for his people, knowing sometimes that still means injury or death. On my son’s 15th birthday, my daughter came VERY close to getting struck by lightening. In our front yard. Not anywhere NEAR Africa. I realized she is NOT safe just because she is here. Now getting close to college graduation she may end up in Africa, who knows? Will I worry? Absolutely. And continue to give my children up to God as He is in control, not me. But, our obedience is required no matter where we live. I guess what I’m trying to say is we fool ourselves into thinking we control our safety, no matter where we live.

  13. 16


    Our Bible Study group talked about all of things happening in the MIddle East toward Christians, while we were eating our dinner that we bring for each study. We were free. Safe to study God’s Word. It’s hard to imagine that while we are surrounded by such comforts. We grow numb. God help us open our eyes and pray without stopping.

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