Our level of obedience is influenced by the attentiveness of our will to the heartbeat of the Father.
As a little girl, one of the most challenging concepts for me to grasp was obedience. Because I am so strong-willed, the sheer thought that my mother or father’s will was better than my own was outrageous. Some of my clearest disciplinary memories from childhood are my mother laying out two options in front of me: “We can do this the easy way, or the hard way.” Almost every time, I chose the hard way. And every time, the result was (what seemed like) a never-ending timeout.
I think obedience is something we don’t like to talk about. We hear the word “obedience” and we think of front-row pews, pointed fingers, and checklists. We hear “obedience” and we think earning our superior’s approval. We think looking behind our backs, walking in trepidation that we don’t miss a step—that we dot all our I’s and cross all our T’s. We hear “obedience” and we are afraid. At least, I am.
But I’m coming to learn that the source of obedience is entirely made of love. I love my Father; therefore I want to obey Him. I want to show Him how much I care. I can’t earn His approval in any possible way—and because the pressure’s off, I can live my life with the sole goal of honoring Him. I’m learning that the commands He gives me are not dictatorial, but for my life’s benefit and pleasure. I’m learning that He knows more than I do.
I’m learning that even though sometimes life isn’t black and white—sometimes our choices aren’t as simple as they were in childhood—the results of our big decisions are dictated by our obedience in the small decisions. The Father seeks the little steps of faithfulness of His sons and daughters. What are the small decisions you are faced with every day? The little choices that can either bring you one step closer to God’s heart or one step further away? The tiny moments where your heart’s loyalty is tested—to whom will you surrender your will?
I want to be faithful in the little things, so He can entrust me with the big things. I want to be obedient to the gifts He has given me, so that I am capable enough (not worthy, but capable) to handle the bigger gifts that will come my way.
Yes, God has given me a strong will—it is only by His grace that He helps me use that will to obey Him, even when I don’t feel like it. Sometimes, that looks like willing myself to obey Him every hour.
Finally, I’m reminded that even though our choices are complicated, obedience, at its core, is simple. All the Father asks is that we lean in closer when He whispers, that we are attentive to His heartbeat, and that we are faithful and joyous to respond.
Caroline Case is a proud Nashville transplant from Naples, Florida, who serves as the production editor for Lifeway’s SmallGroup.com and Discipleship in Context teams. Caroline is currently in graduate school at Belmont University pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in English and Creative Writing, in hopes of inspiring and encouraging others with the written word.