Obedience is UNDERrated!

Obedience training has begun.  My husband is working with our little pup, teaching him four basic commands –  sit, stay, come and no.  These are the commands, that when fully trained, Denver should respond to immediately – and always. I look forward to his increased obedience as he matures.  He will not only be pleasant to live with, but he will be much safer.  I will be able to count on stopping him before he goes out in the road, or swallows a toy, or eats a shoe.  I can know he will come in when called, so he won’t get lost.  Basic obedience will also allow him to fulfill the “work” he is bred to do- upland hunting. When he finds pheasant in the field in a few months, he will likely experience the joy of doing the job for which he was created.   I see very clearly with Denver how obedience is taught, learned and practiced over and over again.

I smile as I watch my grandchildren learn obedience.  It’s a beautiful thing.  As an adult, it’s easy to look at children’s stubbornness and disobedience and think, “Come on…just surrender and do what’s right.  It will be so much easier; so much better than fighting the ‘war’ you are engaging.”

I can only imagine how often God has felt that about me! Yet, I take comfort in knowing that Jesus understands that obedience is often hard. He, though perfect, had to learn obedience. He learned through many trials. Hebrews 5:8

Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered

When children learn obedience (through what they suffer), they (and others around them) are always so much happier afterward.  I love my grandchildren!  They are so much fun, and they are great kids.   I had to laugh as I heard the antics of my youngest grandson, Micah, a few days ago.   Micah has such a sweet, tender conscience and can carry on conversation way beyond his (almost) two years of age.  However, as he nears the age of two, this struggle for obedience can be humorous to watch.

Earlier this week he said “no” to his dad.  That, of course, was not acceptable.  His daddy then told him he was not to tell daddy “no” (and if he did he would be punished).  He then looked away from his dad, into his mommy’s eyes and calmly said, “No, Mommy!” He just wanted to  “clarify” (or test) what it meant to be obedient.  Sometimes, obedience is outward, without being inward.  After being told by mom that he could not watch the movie “Polar Express” again, since he had already watched it that day, he walked away mumbling under his breath, “I will watch ‘Pola Press’; I can watch ‘Pola Press’!”   Obedience is often quite hard.  That’s why it’s called obedience.  If it wasn’t difficult, it could just be called “doing what we want to do”.  We can, like Micah, do the right thing, but it can take a while for our attitudes to catch up to our actions. It’s a good start!

This principle was further illustrated by a conversation I had with a dear friend last week.  She had struggled for a while with feeling surrendered to God after experiencing several difficult situations.  She simply could not find much joy in her walk with God.  However she kept walking.

Several months ago, she was able to regain her joy in her relationships, beginning with her relationship with God.  The change in her attitude is quite evident in her conversations, her expression and her entire demeanor.  She is able to think and process without the angst that was previously there.  I asked her what had brought her to this newfound peace.

Her answer was simply, “You know, obedience is under-rated.”  She went on to explain that in her struggle, she had maintained her love and respect (fear of God) and had decided that she would be obedient to God and His word despite how she felt.  It was not always “smooth”, but she kept on doing the things that were right.  In time, God blessed that obedience and she found her “heart” again.

The scriptures state this in Philippians 2:12-13

    Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, [13] for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

If we keep on obeying, out of awe for God, He will give us the will (the want to, the heart) to carry out His purposes for which we were created.  When we don’t “feel” like doing it –keeping on obeying God will take us through the “muck and mire” that can get into our hearts and get us to the other side.  There, as with Denver, and my grandchildren, we will be safe, happy, and able to fulfill the purposes for which we were created.  Never under-rate simple obedience.

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About Jeanie Shaw

After retiring from forty-five years in full-time ministry, Jeanie Shaw went back to school to earn her master’s and doctorate in spiritual formation and discipleship. She also serves as a certified Christian life coach who loves helping people discover the joy, peace, and purpose that come from finding and following God’s plan for their lives. She has taught classes and workshops all over the world and has written numerous books. She has four grown children, eight grandchildren, and a golden retriever who thinks he is human. When she is not reading, writing, coaching, teaching, or enjoying her family she might be found walking along rivers, learning new lessons about life.

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