Something that has been on my heart for the past few weeks is the idea of obedience.
I grew up hearing about “following God’s Will for your life,” which is obviously incredibly important, but as a teen, “God’s Will” somehow became an unattainable and unrecognizable thing.
How am I supposed to know what it is?
I was given the same advice that I received when I asked, “How do you know when you’re in love?”
“When you know, you know.”
Such simple advice, however, did not sit well. I didn’t want to “just know.” I felt like this was a cop-out in a way….anything could be the will of God if I really wanted it to be.
And then I realized that it’s all about obedience.
I recently started a plan to read through the entire Bible in 3 months. Three. Months. Looking back on my decision three days ago, I feel faint… but I’m beginning to read the Bible in a new light. The plan begins at The Beginning; Genesis 1:1. We read about God’s tender hand forming the Earth out of nothingness, and man out of its dust. Adam names all of the animals (can you say, ‘best job ever?’), and God is pleased. He provides Adam with a helpmate, Eve, and they are given free reign of the Garden – with one tiny exception.
We know the story: they disobey God, their eyes are opened & experience shame, and in the end are forced out of the Garden because of their sin.
Obedience is everything.
Ruth is a prime example of this. Through her obedience, not only does Boaz protect and provide for her, but becomes her kinsman-redeemer and the family line is continued – all the way to King David, and eventually to Jesus. Naomi’s joy was restored simply because Ruth followed and obeyed her leading, and even more-so when Ruth and Boaz have a son.
In Genesis 4:6, the Lord says to Cain: “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”
Despite this warning, Cain disobeys the Word of the Lord and kills his brother Abel.
In the end, “Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod (v.16).” When we are obedient, we are protected from the pain and loneliness of sin. The Enemy desires to destroy us, but obedience to the Lord protects us and gives us new life!
Just the same, obedience brings acceptance. “Nod” means “wandering” – Cain became a wanderer… and left the presence of the Lord.
There is something so scary about this picture: because of his sin and disobedience Cain no longer felt welcome in the presence of the Lord – so he left. Thankfully for us, Jesus died for our sins and we can freely meet with the Him…but I never want to feel the weight of sin so strongly that I feel unwelcome in His presence!
Finally, Obedience brings:
– fulfilled promises
– increased faith
In Genesis 12, we read about the call of Abram. God says:
Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.
I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. So Abram left, as the Lord had told him.
Later on, Abram (now Abraham) is asked to sacrifice his son Isaac. Once again, he is obedient, and as he is about to take the obedience plunge, the Lord provides a sacrificial ram in Isaac’s place. The Lord says to Abraham:
…because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.
I cannot begin to imagine what was going through Abraham’s mind as he traveled to sacrifice his one and only son. However, Abraham was obedient, and through this obedience, he knew God had a greater plan than his own human mind could comprehend. When we are obedient, we are able to rest in knowing that through us, and even through our trials, God will be glorified.
When I think about these Bible characters, I am in awe of how brave they were. In order to be obedient to the call of God on their lives, they had to have a certain level of bravery to face whatever came their way. They had to be brave enough to admit that while things might not be easy, God was in complete control.
Bree over at The Imperfect Vessel is doing a book study on Let’s All Be Brave by Annie F. Downs (go sign up for the study right now). Because I was so excited about the study, I started reading ahead. I found that being brave and fulfilling the dreams God has given us requires total surrender to His plan.
“When God tells you to be brave, He will make it work. It won’t be easy. It won’t be perfect. But it will be your story and your best story.” (Annie F. Downs)
Sometimes being brave means sacrificing what we love most, or leaving our families behind to pursue a specific ministry or job opportunity. It might mean cutting ties with a boyfriend, or speaking the truth with the potential of being shunned or “un-friended.”
And sometimes, being brave means giving up what we think is the best, even when we can’t see that God is really offering us so much more.
What is God asking you to do today?