Saturday, March 1, 2014
I recently read an article about obedience. How easily that word can sound harsh and exacting to my sensitive ears. Too often I associate it with my failings and the with-holding of love or stinging punishment I fear will follow. Where have my idea's of mindless submission or struggling effort come from in regards to obedience? None of these characteristics fit with the character of God. Instead it has more in common with the flawed obedience humans demand of humans. Is obedience really that way? Is it the proverbial older brother charging up a hill yelling "Follow Me!" and the younger brother desperately trying to match him step for step with his shorter legs, only to tumble down crying in frustration? I'm beginning to see it in a new light. What if obedience wasn't a performance or a test of my abilities after all? Let me try to explain.
What if obedience was a gift, like a Christmas gift, a birthday gift, a "just because I love you" gift?
What if obedience was a promise, a sure thing, a "don't worry I've got this" assurance?
What if obedience was an invitation, an outstretched hand , a "come walk with Me for the rest of your life" kind of proposal? There are so many things obedience could be when you start fitting it into God's context of love. It's a safety railing on a high bridge. It's the hard decision to be selfless for the sake of one you love. It's the trusting of One greater than you to be who they say they are. Here is a quote from the article that got me thinking in the first place:
"God promises all that we need for life and godliness; with no exception. And when the Bible says all that we need, it means...All! Our good and gracious Father does not give us a little sliver of grace for obedience, and then leave us exhausting ourselves in futile attempts to draw strength from the well of self-effort. He gives the full measure of grace needed to victoriously live the Christian life, not just sometimes, not just when our "if only" ideals become reality. Right now, in your current situation and season of life, God has made available to you all that is needed for glad obedience. It is when we are relying on our own strength and power to obey, and not on the power of Christ, that we find ourselves failing and faltering...allow [God] to build you into a woman [man] who walks in instant, joyful obedience unto the Prince of your heart!"
~ Elsje Zornes, Set Apart Girl Magazine Jan/Feb 2014
Did you see it? The words "promise", "give", "build"...God's actions. God promises. God gives. God builds. What do we do? We rely. We walk. Jesus said "If you love me, keep my commandments."(John 14:15) Another way of saying that would be "If you love me, you will walk with Me". Now when I think of obedience I think of safety, of love, of a couple walking with their arms around each other.
do thou turn me
all into love
And all my love
And let my obedience
be without interruption
--Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667)