Obedience & Joy

Updated: Jul 5

For years now, I have kept a journal of my spiritual journey with God. In it I record what I’m learning from the Bible, what I’m learning from others and all sorts of prayers. It’s a place I go to get my heart out with him, to face my fears, share my joys, deal with my messy emotions and celebrate successes. It’s like a written account of doing life with God.


This past week, I went back over my old journals. It was fascinating. There were many answered prayers, many requests that God fulfilled. There were prophecies, some of which came true and some of which are still in the waiting. There were things I thought I’d received from God that didn’t actually pan out. But what really jumped out at me were two clear patterns:


1. I love God

2. I love doing things my own way


I can hear the passion in my pen as I shared the deep joy, the overwhelming gratitude of what it means to be God’s child. The peace that passes understanding, and the profound life lessons he’s given me leapt from the pages. God has blessed me so much, and I am humbled by it. Our love for each other is clear.


Yet I’d be lying if I didn’t mention #2. I read back and saw the times God clearly told me no…but I

moved forward anyway. The times he asked me to be cautious, yet I ran recklessly ahead. The constant reiteration of lessons I should have long learned by now but can still struggle with.

I immediately thought of that scripture that says, “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!” (Hebrews 5:12). Talk about a whole different kind of humbling!


As I read those journals, the lesson crystalized. Every time I chose to twist and wriggle my way out of what God was asking of me, it led to hurt. It led to disappointment and pain. And sometimes it hurt others. Those are the choices that grew to become regrets.


Now, God being God, he was able to use each and every wrong choice to teach me and help me grow, as only he can do. But how much energy and time I’ve wasted in this mistaken belief that I can somehow do better than the Lord God Almighty! How much hurt I could’ve avoided had I simply listened in the first place.


Can you relate? Do you ever think you need to be in control, to be aware of exactly how everything is going to play out? Are you tempted to run ahead or run away from the Lord? To do what you want to do even when you know it’s wrong? I think of Peter falling at Jesus’ knees and crying out, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8). I can relate to that.


More and more I am convinced of the huge blessings that come with obedience. Like many spiritual words, the word “obey” was hijacked in my mind for a long time. I associated it with a stifling, legalistic faith that was rooted in obedience over grace. Maybe that was the biggest surprise as I reflected on my relationship with God. Obedience is AWESOME!


More than ever, I want to be obedient to his voice. No matter how hard. No matter how messy or counterintuitive. Because here’s the thing: never once did I see God calling me to do something that didn’t blossom into a lot of good. They were good things in my life and the lives of others. Even if God's plan didn’t go the way I thought it should (which was often), the fruit that came from my simple act of obedience was good. It brought joy. Peace. Blessing.


Perhaps, like me, you need to remember the tremendous freedom that comes along with the simple act of obedience. To remember that Jesus’ burden is easy and his load is light. When your load isn’t feeling light, perhaps it's time to let him carry it again. Consider putting your spiritual bravery on and make those hard decisions you need to make, trusting that something even better is around the corner. Would you join me?


FOR FURTHER THOUGHT

James tells us, “Whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do” (James 1:24). Is there an area of your life you have a hard time trusting God? Something that's hard for you to be obedient in? Remember, God gives you a pattern for how to live your life for a reason—to bless you! Find a scripture or two today that will strengthen you to make the godly choice the next time you’re tempted to pick back up the reins of your life and do it your way instead of God’s way.


PRAYER

Lord, thank you that you never treat me as my sins deserve, that you are for me, not against me. As far as the east is from the west, so far have you removed my sins from me. I praise you Papa! Thank you for taking every detail of my life and turning it into something beautiful as only you can do. Would you help me to grow in my obedience, Papa, so I can walk more in step with you? Would you continue to strengthen the spirit of power, love and self-discipline you've placed within me. Praise you Papa. Always you are good. Amen.


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