When I was a child, the more I obeyed my parents the more they trusted me. They were able to trust me with greater responsibilities and give me more autonomy. The more I demonstrated my willingness to be obedient, the more I also experienced their rewards.
My obedience to my parents showed them that I loved them and when I obeyed their wishes despite my own thoughts and ideas, it also illustrated my ability to honor them and their commands. It wasn’t always easy to do things my parents way; after all, I was young and my ideas seemed to be much more exciting than those of my parents. However, the more I challenged myself to obey my parents’ wishes, the more I received in return. Slowly but surely, they began to trust me with greater responsibility and even reward my respect for their authority.
When I reflect on the dynamic of obedience with my parents, I am able to identify a number of similarities to my obedience with God. Like a parent whose good pleasure is to reward their children, God begins to give me greater freedom and greater independence to pursue the desires of my heart.
In the times when I am unwaveringly obedient, his rewards are almost instantaneous. Suddenly, I experience an unexpected increase in my finances. Suddenly, I receive an unexpected good-break! Suddenly, the gates of His favor appear to open in barren areas of my life.
But on the flip side, there are times when my will is reluctant. I am nudged to pray but God’s prompting feels inconvenient and so it becomes an afterthought as I ignore His request and engage in other more pressing tasks.
There are times when I am instructed to give a bit more for my offering but I think about my desires and I choose to be selfish. Slowly I begin to feel frustrated in my prayer life because those answered prayers seem to decline.
“God, are you listening?”
“Can you hear me?”
“I’ve got a need and you don’t seem to be responding.”
Of course God isn’t a God of tit-for-tat, but it sure does feel that way after a bout of disobedience. The gravy train seems to run out, and I’m left with this starved feeling of frustration, loneliness and emptiness. The thing that I often overlook in times like this is that God is much like my earthly parents. My obedience pleases Him and demonstrates my love for Him. It shows Him that I respect His wishes above my will.
“God is always on the alert, constantly on the lookout for people who are totally committed to him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9 MSG)
Simply put, God is moved by my response! He’s not actively looking to reward my disobedience. He’s actively seeking to reward my obedience.
Though obedience is probably the most un-thrilling topic of any conversation, it’s the one that can literally save our lives. Our obedience is not just a vehicle to display our reverence; it’s also often for our protection. Think about it–Ladies, how many break-ups could have been avoided if we had listened to God the first time He spoke to us about that man? Guys, how much time could’ve been saved had you taken God’s instructions the first time?
It’s no secret that obedience is challenging but like a newbie to the gym, the more we exercise it, the easier it becomes. Obedience is the one act that produces endless fruit in our lives. Each time we obey, we store up an inheritance of favor and goodness for our families and ourselves. We get one step closer to that breakthrough that we’ve been praying for, and one moment closer to an answered prayer.
I can’t help but to think how much further along I could be in certain areas of my life, had I not allowed my disobedience to slow me down.
What about you? In what areas have you dragged your feet to obey God’s voice? In what areas are you sensing God’s nudge? Today is a personal challenge to listen to his voice, to trust him, and to respond to His call.
“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the world.” (Deuteronomy 28:1 NLT)
On the other side of obedience, is a life that is bright and ripe with favor. As it is written in His word, “His plans are to give us a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). Be encouraged to obey.