I have a new puppy, and it has become important that I am mindful of my commands. Though I do hold his face and look him in the eye and give instruction like the counselor I am (pointed out to me by my daughter) what he needs most from me are consistent commands for him to figure out how to live in this world.
Ever so slowly, he is making improvements as he learns through trial and error what it is that I want from him and molds his natural instincts into pleasing me and obeying my commands. Over time he is trusting that I mean well for him. I do not want to harm him. I want to provide for him. I want the best for him. Still there is a disconnect between his nature that wants his own way and his desire to please me, which is something he wants too.
Our relationship reminds me so much of my relationship with God. I don’t always want to follow His commands. Many commands are easy to understand like attending church, praying, giving. The harder commands are the ones like loving your enemies and doing good to those who do you harm. These are the kinds of commands that require total trust in God’s goodness to fulfill.
I’m not alone. From the beginning of the church it was difficult to be faithful to God’s commands. In John’s book of Revelation, God inspired him to describe the heart of the people in the Church of Philadelphia. He wrote:
“Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth” (Revelation 3:10).
Yes, great rewards are promised, but it’s in the waiting and enduring patiently that we learn how much we trust our Master. God did not promise us instant gratification for obeying His commands. What He asks of us is to know His commands, know His character and yield our natural instincts to go our own way into following His commands. This is what the spiritual journey comes down to. We wake up to a new day of surrendering our will to the love and care of our Heavenly Father, who has given us His commands, so that we can find our way through a world that is full of snares.
I’ve never been disappointed when I have followed God’s commands. Following God’s commands brings me to the best living possible on this earth. It does not mean that my life is easy or even that others are envious of how good God is to me. They may not even be able to see His goodness. I live by loving obedience to God’s commands. I live in peace. I live with rest. I live with joy. I get to have the best this world offers me. But I must obey in patient endurance at times.
My puppy is learning little by little. He is only half a year old. I have had many years to learn that following God’s commands are always the best. Even when I test Him and don’t follow His commands, He shows me a way back to Him.
I find it easiest to follow God’s commands when I see how much He loves me and wants the best for me. Even the hard commands seem doable when I am filled with His love for me!