I rarely like to obey what I feel God is asking of me, especially when it comes to humbling myself and not demanding justice my way. If He asks me to go on a long vacation or enjoy a wonderful prize, I’m eager to obey.
Obedience starts with a mustard seed of faith. I believe that God is good and that He would not ask me to do something that is not good for me, even though I cannot see the goodness of the proposal. My pattern is to get started on obedience reluctantly. I don’t like it one bit, but I do it anyway, just not with all my heart, mind and spirit. That kind of obedience is an invitation for the enemy of my soul to double up efforts to show me the insanity of doing it God’s way. It leaves me open to consider all the myriad of ways I could handle the same situation and leads me to daydreams of the options. That is until I remember that God said NO! to all those possibilities and gave me one direction.
I’m not sure what instant obedience looks like yet, but I can witness to the fact that prolonged obedience has surprising results. Once the battle begins, I find myself obeying in behavior, yet not in heart. I trust God enough not to go off and follow my emotions and fallen reasoning therefore making matters worse. That is spiritual progress for me. (Although the times I do act out differently than God has asked me, I do repent and receive forgiveness so that I can renew my efforts to do what God has told me to do.) Rarely are the rewards of my obedience instant. In fact, the majority of the time I don’t see the results until I have walked so long in obedience that I no longer battle to have my own way, and I forget that I once felt so strongly opposed to God’s way.
There is a moment that God shows me the outcome of my long journey of obedience. I feel His delight in me and my choice to honor Him above my own will. I love how Ruth Myers describes John 15:5 and Philippians 2:13 in her book 31 Days of Praise.
“I’m so grateful, Lord, that the Christian life is not a rigorous self-improvement course or a do-it-yourself kit…that it is not a call to prove myself or improve myself by overcoming my own shortcomings and failures, in my own way, by my own resources. Thank You that, instead, You are at work in me and in my situation to break old patterns of thought and action to create within me both the desire and the power to do Your gracious will…and to make me a joy to You in new ways.”
God does not look on me and hope that I will be a moral human being. Obedience is much more than that. It’s not that He likes people who perform certain behaviors. Obedience is about intimacy. Intimacy is about love and trust. I never truly obey until I am obeying out of love and trust in God’s goodness, especially when I can’t see how it can be good for me to follow where He leads me. God isn’t as much interested in my behavior as He is in my soul. He is about renewing the parts of me that instantly connect to Him and see how wonderful and present He is and how all His actions are loving and good for all the world.
That kind of obedience is impossible for us humans. We must have the Holy Spirit working inside of us to obey like that. That kind of obedience does not come instantly for me, but it does come powerfully.