If I really believed this, wouldn’t I be quicker to obey?
But sometimes the right thing to do is also the hard thing. And I just don’t want to!
A while ago I was at a conference and heard a story told by one of the worship leaders. He was on his way home after a busy weekend of ministry. He was dead tired and wanted nothing more than to curl into his airplane seat and fall asleep. But the elderly gentleman next to him was chatty, so he reluctantly engaged in conversation. They talked about their families and the worship leader told his neighbor that he was a Christian musician and had recorded some albums. As they talked, he felt the Lord prompting him to turn the conversation to spiritual matters. He argued in his spirit that he was tired and wasn’t up to it. He told the Lord he just couldn’t. He resisted for a while but finally, he obeyed and asked the gentleman in the next seat if he knew Jesus. The man beamed and said yes, then revealed who he was; a well-known founder of a Christian ministry.
He told the worship leader, “I didn’t tell you who I was on purpose: I’m so happy to know that you’re a Christian who genuinely loves the Lord, and not just someone who wants to sell records or be famous.”
The worship leader experienced joy as a result of his obedience to the Lord’s prompting. The ministry leader was also encouraged and blessed. And a new friendship developed as a result – a gift to them both!
But it required obedience on the worship leader’s part. It cost him something, he didn’t want to do it.
Sometimes obedience is just a grit-your-teeth-and-do-it choice. Sometimes it’s scary or inconvenient. Sometimes it’s not doing or saying what you desperately want to, what you feel you’re entitled to. It’s not often easy or our first inclination.
Back when I was first convicted of bitterness, I knew that I needed to confess my sin and forgive those I resented. But I wasn’t really sorry, – I felt justified in my actions – and absolutely didn’t believe that I could forgive! So I told the Lord that I wanted to repent and forgive but He was going to have to do it in me; give me a repentant and forgiving heart. I prayed that prayer many times before seeing it come to fruition. But it was worth it. The peace and joy that follow repentance and obedience are amazing!
But it’s hard to remember and/or believe this when the thing we know we should do is the opposite of what we want to do. Sometimes I’m so stubborn and forget! Obedience to God; doing things His way is always the best way.
We are promised multiple times throughout scripture that obedience brings joy (Isaiah 58:13-14 and John 15:11) and peace (Isaiah 48:18).
We are told that those who obey Christ are called His friends (John 15:14). Doing what God has commanded is often hard, but obedience is the path to greater intimacy and relationship – a friendship with Jesus. The more we walk with Him, the more we know Him and are transformed into His image. This benefit alone should spur us on – when I obey I’m a friend of God!
But I’m a slow learner, it seems. Maybe you are too.
And God knows this. He created me, He “knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13). Every thought I think, every word I say or consider saying, He knows it all (Psalm 139:2-4). And He has compassion for me; He knows my limitations, my wounds, my “buttons” and what will push them.
Psalm 103:13-14 says,
As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
So we ask Him, our wise, compassionate, all-knowing Father, to help us obey. To give us the strength to do the hard thing, to follow His voice. And we must trust Him to do it! He promises to keep doing His work in us.
He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. I Thessalonians 5:24