To be frank, there was a time when I would’ve never placed “beauty” and “obedience” in the same sentence. Beauty conjured up images and ideas of rich, joyful experiences, the glory of nature, that sort of thing. Beauty put a smile on my face. Obedience? Well, let’s just say that’s not what it put on my face.
So what changed? My perception, as is so often the case. Far from being the confining straight jacket I saw it as, or the shame I experienced when I found myself in trouble, obedience has become a lifeline to me. It has become the confidence in my step, the certainty in my heart, and the joy that overflows from my spirit. It is the power source for transformation in my life. For me, obedience has come to represent freedom.
How? Why? It’s a slow and steady list created by God in my life over time. Obedience used to be an awkward mold I would try to fit myself into that didn’t always make sense or give me the result I thought in the moment I wanted. I knew of scriptures like Psalm 128:1 that says, “Great blessings belong to those who fear and respect the Lord and live the way He wants,” or Luke 11:28 where Jesus says plainly, “the people who are really blessed are the ones who hear and obey God’s message!” I prayed and tried my best to obediently follow with mixed results. I never really talked to God about what He wanted me to focus and grow in; I just did what I thought I should do and hoped He would bless the ride. And it’s not that He didn’t. It’s that the power seemed more limited, and the direction I was heading in didn’t always create growth and blessing within me or towards others.
The turning point in my life came when my back was against the wall and I had no one to turn to EXCEPT God. I knew I was in way over my head. My only hope was to learn in a whole new way what it meant to lean into God and let Him guide me through because all of my ideas had failed. For the first time, I began to really tune into God and listen for His guidance through His word, the Holy Spirit and through others. I let go of my need to control how it should go and let God show me how He wanted it to work within me. He took me down paths I would’ve never thought to have gone down, surfaced negative strongholds that were buried deep within my heart. His journey was counterintuitive. It didn’t always make sense and it was rarely straight forward. I definitely had some shouting matches with Him when I didn’t understand where He was taking me. But I ultimately chose obedience. Not perfectly, but consistently.
And what an incredible journey it has been ever since! God used a brutally hard season in my life and ultimately morphed it into something rich and beautiful – a life of consistent joy and peace. There are literally days when I am in awe of how happy I am. Yes, I still have challenges. I still have wrestling matches with God. I still lose some individual battles. But I see God winning the overall war for my soul, my life time and time again, and it makes my belief in His faithfulness and wisdom more and more unshakeable.
Now I can honestly say I love obedience! Crazy, huh?! But I’ve learned first-hand obedience to God brings a power into my living that wouldn’t exist otherwise. It’s my road map that guides me safely through this journey called life. And it stems not from a sense of duty, but from a deep-rooted love for God and all that He has done for me, not only at the cross but within my life. The Apostle John said, “If anyone obeys the word, God’s love is truly made complete in him” (1 John 2:5). Amen, Brother. Amen.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT: Here is 1 John 2:5 in context: “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” What is one area of your life that you struggle with trusting God in? How might you learn to walk that situation out with God the way Jesus would, trusting God’s direction over your own desires and emotions? Remember: when you teach your child not to run out into the street without looking both ways first it’s because you love them and want them to stay safe. God, the Perfect Father, is the same way.
PRAYER: Wow Dad. It still amazes me how much I love to be in control. I know You’ve given me a brain to use, but You’ve also asked me to check in with you first through prayer, to frame my life decisions through the lens of Your truth. Help me, Lord. I know in and of myself, I can’t do this. I can be so stubborn sometimes to my own detriment. But I am so grateful You can do this! Nothing is impossible in my life with You. Help me to learn to listen closely for Your voice, to trust Your guidance even when I don’t understand. I thank you in advance for the beauty and the blessing I know will accompany my obedience, and that Your wish is only for my good. Continue to bring what is blocking me to the surface so I can become more like You, Jesus. Amen.