Willful Obedience

How many times have we seen it or experienced it ourselves?

bratty-child

 

That moment when a young child cries, WHY do I have to do it?!!!”

In reply an exasperated mama says, “Because I TOLD you to!!!”

Then the moment of truth:  either the child complies (reluctantly perhaps) or chooses willful disobedience.

When my children were little, we lived on a fairly busy road with our driveway a short distance from the edge of the pavement.  I was shepherding four young ones and could not possibly keep an eye on each one every second of every day.

So early on we established a rule:  You never step on blacktop pavement without holding the hand of an adult.

I explained that the road was dangerous.  But let’s face it, the ability of  a two year old to understand “dangerous” is limited.

Because of the faithful love they experienced in our home, my children trusted me even though they did not fully comprehend the need to obey.

And this rule was never broken as long as we lived there.

It kept them safe.

These last months I have felt like an angry, willful child-I’ve asked God, “Why do I have to affirm Your goodness? Why do I have to believe You are in control?  Why do I have to keep on keeping on when all I want to do is lie down and give up?”

And, honestly, the only answer I’ve gotten is, “Because I told you to.”

He has not given me special revelation nor has He whispered unique comfort to my heart.

No answer as to why MY son was taken.

No insight into how these circumstances play into His greater plan and purpose for my life or for anyone else’s life.

So I face a moment of truth:  will I choose obedience?  Will I choose to continue to follow my Savior and trust my Heavenly Father?. 

Will I rest in the faithful love He has showered on me all my days and hold tighter to the hope I have in Christ?

Or will I walk away because I don’t get what I want and I don’t understand?

The apostles faced a similar test many times.  One which speaks to my heart occurred just after Jesus miraculously fed the five thousand.

When Jesus taught that He was the Bread of Life, many turned away because they found the words offensive and hard to believe.

bread-of-life

The crowd had readily accepted physical blessing from His hand, but hesitated when the blessing wasn’t something they could touch or comprehend.

They were unprepared to follow Him if they didn’t understand.

Therefore, when many of His disciples heard this, they said, “This teaching is hard! Who can accept it?”

Jesus, knowing in Himself that His disciples were complaining about this, asked them, “Does this offend you?”

From that moment many of His disciples turned back and no longer accompanied Him. Therefore Jesus said to the Twelve, “You don’t want to go away too, do you?”

Simon Peter answered, “Lord, who will we go to? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that You are the Holy One of God!”

John 6: 60-61, 66-69

Simon Peter chose to follow because he believed and accepted a core truth:  Jesus IS the Holy One of God.  He IS the Bread of Heaven.  He IS the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Like the crowd, I cry out, “This teaching (of Your sovereignty, of Your goodness, of Your love for me) is hard! Who can accept it (in light of my experience)?

But as an act of will, even in the midst of so many unanswered questions, I will choose to follow and obey because only Jesus has the words of eternal life.

I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?
― C.S. Lewis

 

 

 

 

Why Not?

I cannot bring Dominic back-I cannot have my child once again in my arms.  I cannot undo the damage death has wrought and the great gash loss has made in my heart.  

And so I am left with my pain and my questions.

“Why?” is not a particularly fruitful question (although I ask it still).

 “Why not?” is probably more helpful.

If I consider the lives of all the people God chose as examples of His faithfulness and grace there is not one who escapes heartache.

Not even one was allowed to walk this sod untouched by suffering that forced them to lean hard into the only Hope that lasts for eternity.

Adam and Eve reaped the consequences of their sin, were cast from the Garden and buried one son murdered by the other.

Noah watched the world descend into unbelievable wickedness around him and then witnessed the destruction of all flesh on earth.

Abraham left the familiar, trudged for years in a land promised but not given, had a son that he loved but had to send away because he was begotten outside the plan and will of God. He finally received the son of promise but was aked to sacrifice him.

He grew old without the blessing of possessing much of what God had promised him.

Jacob reaped the reward of his deception but lived a complicated and heartbreaking life.

Joseph enjoys a happy ending,  but it was a long lonely path that led him there.

David, Moses, Paul, the apostles, Elizabeth, Hannah, Mary, Esther, Ruth-all were called to walk in sorrow as vessels of God’s glory.

Only recently in human history have we been able, in small pockets of abundance, to mistakenly assume this mortal life is as wonderful (or, dare I say it?) MORE wonderful than the promised eternal life provided by God through the ultimate and complete suffering and sacrifice of Jesus.

I want victory without war.  

I want harvest without planting and working the fields.

I want to be happy and satisfied here yet still have a heart for heaven.

It is impossible to have both.

Only in light of eternity am I free to live a life set apart for God’s use in the here and now.

Only as a recipient of God’s grace can I be a conduit of that grace to others.

Only in deep sorrow can I find the true value of Christ’s promise that He will never leave me nor forsake me.

Only alone can I fully appreciate the gift of God’s constant companionship.

Only when I am truly hungry can I taste the bread that satisfies my soul.

Simon Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You [alone] have the words of eternal life [you are our only hope].

John 6:68 AMP

Waiting On Someday

It’s been said that children are a mother’s heart walking around outside her body–mine certainly are.

And now part of my heart is in heaven.  That makes the promises of God so much more personal.

So I hunt for, cling to and chew on every word like it really is the bread of life–because while I walk the valley of the shadow of death this is the food that sustains me.  

Today  my heart is broken, but someday it will be whole again.

Today I walk in shadow, but someday I will walk in bright light:

“No longer will you need the sun to shine by day, nor the moon to give its light by night, for the LORD your God will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.” Isaiah 60:19 NLT

Today all creation groans under the curse of sin and death, but someday everything will be restored, renewed and redeemed. 

On this mountain [Zion] the Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples [to welcome His reign on earth],
A banquet of aged wines—choice pieces [flavored] with marrow,
Of refined, aged wines.

And on this mountain He will destroy the covering that is [cast] over all peoples,
And the veil [of death] that is woven and spread over all the nations.

He will swallow up death [and abolish it] for all time.
And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
And He will take away the disgrace of His people from all the earth;
For the Lord has spoken.

It will be said in that day,
“Indeed, this is our God for whom we have waited that He would save us.
This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
Let us shout for joy and rejoice in His salvation.”
Isaiah 25:6-9 AMP