Obedience can be an intimidating word. Depending on our upbringing and other influences from our early life, it may invoke different emotions. For some, it conjures up odious thoughts of harsh, seemingly pointless regimens of rules and regulations that are stifling and oppressive instead of life-giving and fulfilling. For others, it seems oddly devoid of intimacy and relationship, more of a never-good- enough attempt at measuring up. And for even more of us, the word itself feels like a threat to our innate desire for independence. It bristles against the fabric of our self-reliance and autonomy.
Obedience—at least the kind that our good, loving, sovereign God requires—is neither legalistic nor lacking in affection. Although it places needed boundaries and demands on us—as in, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24)—each bit of instruction He gives is born out of the tenderness of His heart toward us and His desire to steer us toward His best for our lives. Obedience is not a no; it is actually His best yes. It swims in oceans of grace and leads us to freedom, wholeness, and health. It opens us up to His unbridled blessing and abundance.
The irony of obedience is like a delicate dance of trust. It may require real sacrifice from us, while somehow leading to blessing and incomparable abundance.
• It binds us while concurrently loosing us.
• It holds us tightly while also letting us go.
• It redirects us only to replenish and renew us.
• It restrains us while simultaneously releasing us.
• It limits us while also opening up spacious possibility.
Without our intentional surrender to the former, we cannot experience the benefits of the latter—benefits that are so important and hold so much incredible promise, we can hardly afford to leave them to chance. We must plan and intentionally strategize to pursue them, to pursue obedience. If left to our flesh’s tendencies toward rebellion, we will live in a consistent state of resistance toward God and His ways.
But if we (literally) plan to obey, we put ourselves in position any day of the week to hear what He wants us to do next, and then to have Him bless us with the supernatural joy of following Him.
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Matthew 16:24 KJV
If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
John 13:17 KJV