I like the word joy. It brings a smile to my face just saying it…go ahead and try …”JOY”…aahhh, sweetness. Wouldn’t you know it though, obedience doesn’t roll off the tongue quite so smoothly. I don’t feel like partying when I hear that one! Who wants more joy in their life? We all raise our hands. Who’s interested in becoming more obedient? Cue the crickets.
When I say obedience, it conjures up the same feelings I tend to get when I hear words like, selflessness, humility, sacrifice or surrender. No smile appears on my face, rather I often feel a sense of dread, like I need to brace myself, or even fear, wondering what’s this going to cost me? My self centeredness is showing again. Anyone out there know what I’m saying?
As a child I had a healthy fear of Dad and I can remember, especially during the summer, he would leave us kids with a fairly lengthy list of chores that needed to be done by the time he got home from work. Even then, knowing there would be consequences if it wasn’t done, I would delay that obedience until the last hour, when my brother, sister and I would scramble around in a frenzy to do what we had been told and hopefully get it done enough that we avoided punishment. We got it done, maybe our feet were dragging & it wasn’t our best work but it was just enough to avoid the wrath of dad. I guess that’s called half-hearted obedience.
Looking back, I can clearly see that although I may have been checking the list by the hair of my chinny, chin, chin, my attitude was missing the mark by a mile. My heart was in the wrong place, I wanted to do what I wanted to do and only begrudgingly obeyed to avoid discipline. This may have worked for Dad some days but half-hearted obedience doesn’t work with our Heavenly Father because He cares more about the heart motive than getting the check list complete.
In chronological years, I’ve been an adult for quite a while now and would like to say I have this obedience thing down but truth be told, adult me, still struggles with self centeredness that keeps me from being obedient with the right motivation.
Last weekend, I had a wonderful time at a women’s retreat in beautiful Lake Tahoe, my new sister friend Becky who was attending decided she wanted to follow the Lord in obedience and get baptized. So awesome!!
For her, this was a brave step and a bit scary, ok, a lot scary! She didn’t want to be the center of attention, didn’t want people gawking at her, she felt insecure and to be straight up honest, was feeling so anxious that she almost didn’t see her obedience through.
Some prayer and an encouraging friend helped and we waded in to the water. Becky went under the water and I tell you what, she came up out of the water with a mega watt smile brighter than the sun itself. The joy in her was so evident I thought a heavenly dove was going to descend. Just looking at her made my heart swell with joy!
There was a whole crowd of ladies on the shore cheering her on and celebrating her public proclamation of faith and we all broke into song and had a great time together praising God. It was truly a beautiful God moment. A moment that would not have happened, had Becky let her fear and insecurity speak louder than her desire to please her Heavenly Father by simply obeying.
This is what I am learning but have certainly not mastered. Obey scared, obey anxious, obey with questions, obey without any assurance of the outcome, but obey. Obey, because you love Him so. There may be some pain and discomfort in the obeying, but Becky and I agree there is unspeakable joy on the other side!!
“If you love me, keep my commands.” – John 14:15