I’ve never been much of an obedience stickler. In general, I like to do things my way. Some believe I have strong leadership skills, but I know the truth. I have a problem with authority. My respect for others and my fear of confrontation have saved me from many nights in jail (ok that might be a bit of an exaggeration). It’s not always that I disagree with others, I think I just like to be in control. I have a somewhat wild and rebellious spirit naturally, and being raised in a fairly strict Christian home, I just sort of decided to ditch the difficulties of rule following and adopt a less hard-core doctrine. I call it Hippie Christianity. A sort of “love covers all things, anything goes” kind of mentality.
What I love about God is that he is so merciful and forgiving. I love knowing that no matter how much I screw up, he will always turn me back around and use all my crap for something good. Unfortunately, I have tried to use his good nature to justify many actions that are just plain disobedient. I know what’s right and wrong and I’m not out there just trying to break every rule (anymore). I want to please God, and my focus over the past five years has been building a relationship with God, getting to know him, understanding what it means when people go insane over “being in God’s presence.” Which is totally great. I haven’t gone out of my way to disobey him, but it certainly hasn’t been a big priority of mine to be obedient to the very clear guidelines set in his word. I mean, rules are for the Old Testament, right? That’s why Jesus came, isn’t it? To free us from the law? Aren’t we in the Holy Spirit era now? We are lovingly guided into our destiny nowadays, not struck by lightning if we step outta line. Right?
Well, I thought this month and all its trials were setting the stage for God finally opening doors for me in faith, family and my future. And that may be very true, in fact I absolutely believe it with all my heart. But there’s more. There’s always more with God! I have been seriously called out on my lack of obedience. I have fudged over so many issues, so many sins and worldly mindsets, all shoved under the rug and passed off as minute and insignificant. But really I have just been hiding mountains of garbage, and it’s starting to leak.
Over the past month or so, you’ve heard me talk about letting go of some of these sins. But what’s really starting to hit me is the relief, the freedom I feel in every area that God is purging the poison from. In many cases, I thought it would be so hard, that it would make life more difficult, possibly even destroy many things. Still, I have been committed to obedience. Instead of seeing destruction or feeling like I’m fighting an uphill battle, my eyes have been opened to so much truth. I’m seeing healing in so many areas that I never would have believed obedience to be the cure. I figured obedience would make me lose everything, cuz really that’s what I deserve, that I’d be heartbroken and albeit of clear conscience, trading one lonely world for another. From a slave of sin to a condemned desert dweller.
It’s just not true.
My views of God as a loving and merciful Father have been correct. He just wants more for me, and I can only get there by being obedient. My relationship with him can only deepen with trust, and I can only deepen my trust by being obedient and watching his glory shine through it in every area of my life.
My son asked me the other day if he could bring his music and headphones to school. Apparently, the teachers are ok with it as long as his work is finished and it’s not a distraction to the other kids. Ryan is autistic, although extremely high functioning, and also suffers from OCD, anxiety, insomnia and ADHD. The combination of these issues have revealed a myriad of fears and struggles for him. He cannot handle loud noises or chaotic environments, for one thing. He’s very claustrophobic. Social interactions are a constant struggle. So one solution to help him with the chaotic and very large public middle school he attended last year was to wear headphones in the hallways and at the end of classes when the rest of the students were getting rowdy. The school approved it, but instead of following the proper times allotted to him for listening to music, Ryan wanted to keep the headphones in all the time. The excuse was that the lack of discipline in the classroom made it difficult for him to concentrate without them. While it may have helped him focus on reading instructions and concentrating on classwork better, by wearing the headphones all day, he missed a lot of what teachers were saying to him. So focused on tuning out the negative, he missed their guidance and consequently failed to obey them and did not complete or turn in homework assignments.
So, when he asked if he could bring music to class with him, my answer was no. Is it because I think it’s a bad idea. No. I think the headphones help him a lot – when he follows the rules about when to use them. He did not follow the rules last year with them, and I told him I needed to see that he was going to be responsible and turn in his work consistently without the headphones before I would even consider that possibility. Well, of course, he was super angry and argued defiantly with me about how he could do so much better if he just had what he wanted. He refused to admit that he broke the rules to begin with and refused to agree with my terms. Turn in your work on time for 2 weeks and earn a trial period of using headphones in class as per the teachers rules. Instead of complying he continued to argue about how he needed to do it his way. His stubborn refual to simply show the tiniest bit of responsibilty will now keep him from getting the privileage of headphones, as well as many other privileages and responsibilties he would like to have.
It made me think about my own interactions with my Father God. How many times do I knowingly disobey him and make excuses for it? How many times do I beg him to give me more of something when I haven’t shown responsibility with what I already have? How many times do I get angry or upset when God doesn’t answer my prayers when I know the reason my prayers are not being answered is simply because I disobeyed?! How many times do I bathe in self-pity because I couldn’t accomplish my goals when I was unwilling to take the simple first step of obedience?
Like a stubborn child, I defiantly attempt to bypass the rules and do things my way.
It hasn’t worked any better me than it has for my son.
Something I want Ryan to understand is that if he can obey the rules, he will likely get most of the things he wants. All he has to do is show me he can turn in his work on time, and the headphones are his. Sowing responsibility reaps rewards. His refusal to be patient and obedient keeps him from the good things I want to give him.
And my refusal to be patient for God’s timing and to be obedient has kept me from the freedom and joy God has wanted for me all this time.
So, I am finally starting to see the light, and I want to share with you guys over the next few days what I’ve learned and how I have experienced God’s gifts in several areas where I have ignored the rules in the past. Hopefully, it will inspire you to have faith in God’s goodness and be obedient in your own lives as well.
Thanks for reading, have a great day everyone! Oh and if you have a chance, read Daniel 1 and 6 and see how his obedience and faith not only saved his life, but turned an entire nation to God. Obedience is pretty powerful!