I’m fairly positive it was my dad who defined true obedience to me. I can still hear the words of the ex-Marine, and I can still remember the healthy attention that he commanded by his presence alone, when, in a moment of attitude or disrespect towards him or our mom, he would speak this most simple phrase:
“When I say ‘Jump!’, boy, you say ‘How High?!”
You knew by the look in his eye and the curl in his lip that you’d better grasp that final warning and turn your heart, or else.
While I don’t have the experience or the pleasure of being taught under the United States Marines, to this day I have a healthy respect for any man or woman who served. With my own kids, when it comes to obedience, there’s not much lost in translation. The same idea holds true.
Obedience is simply doing what you’re told the first time, without asking why.
How many times as kids did we ask the universal ‘Why?’ only to get the universal ‘Because I said so.’
The number of times I’ve found myself in my father’s shoes…it’s almost comical the way God puts us on the other side of the fence.
In reality, the truth stares us down when it comes to obedience. It boils down to a matter of the heart, to your attitude.
To hear God’s call for our lives we need to have that same level of obedience, and availability. Before we can be available we have to grasp that kind of obedience without condition. If we first give pause, to question, to judge, or to try and reason for understanding with the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, then we become sticks in the mud, immovable and unavailable.
Just like the Israelites in Exodus 7, God calls us into the Wilderness so that we might worship Him.
Would they have gone out with any bounce in their step if they’d known they’d wander for years, for generations? Had God explained the Manna or the water coming from the rock, the pillar of fire, or the parting of the Red Sea….would they have understood?
When we listen to Him, when we obey without condition, and when we are completely abandoned and given over to His purpose, it won’t matter what Wilderness we find ourselves in, what circumstance or predicament has befallen us, because He will be with us.
When we find, like Paul in closing his letter to the Philippians, that we can be content regardless of the circumstances, whether well fed or hungry, we realize that we’ve come under the watchful eye of our King. And when He is truly our Lord, our Shepherd, we shall not be in want.
A couple of days ago God did some serious rearranging of schedules, and we found ourselves surprised with 18 people for supper. All of us in beginning our day had other plans. But God had His plan. He brought us all together, as just another weave in His Masterpiece, and it was time to eat.
In our freezer were 5 pizzas from our friends who volunteer at a church in town, giving away food.
In the back seat of another friends car was a big sack of bread, given to him by a local bread maker, who’d made too much and yet had the forethought to use the extra as a blessing to someone else.
There were chips, there was soda, and there was even ice cream! In plenty!
We were provided for, and so abundantly that there was bread left over enough to take around to family and friends. When there was still more bread in the sack, we walked over to a neighbor around the corner, out raking her yard, and told her of the provision. She picked out her loaf with a grateful heart. Her neighbors were out in their driveway, and so we gave her an extra loaf to give to them, and watched as she walked over to them, holding in her hands yet another unexpected gift.
My wife thinks maybe there’s a book in my future, and tends to remind me that these are just blogs. “Keep it short and sweet” she says, “there’s more impact that way.”
I think maybe that’s how God sees it with us. If He told us the whole story of our lives, word for word, He’d certainly lose us somewhere along the way… We need to be content when He calls and doesn’t explain Himself… because it’s for our own sake, because He loves us.
He’s just keeping it short and sweet.