Obedience is a big part of my life. As a high school teacher, I spend a lot of time trying to get 150 teenagers to do what I say. This is often a futile endeavor.
There are the usual comebacks to my demands: “Why do I have to do this?” or “I’m just not feelin’ it today.”
And then there are the nonverbal responses: the heavy sighs, eye rolls, and dirty looks.
Sometimes these protests are followed by the grudging following of whatever I asked. Sometimes there is outright defiance. Sometimes the students will do part of what they are expected to do and ignore the rest. The responses vary, but rarely does the obedience come easily and cheerfully.
I don’t think most of us are that different from my students. We may end up doing the “right thing,” but we too often get there through a journey of grumbling and whining and second guessing of whoever is issuing the orders.
And the One issuing the commands is God Himself.
Many of us will do what we can to avoid the hard “stuff” the Lord commands: being a good steward of the gifts He has given, being open to whatever mission He calls us to, being forgiving and loving, being willing to capture every thought to put under His control.
While we’re busy making excuses for why we can’t, we’re missing the “big picture” of what life could be if we surrendered it to the Father.
Before last Sunday’s sermon, I had never thought of Jesus’ night in the Garden of Gethsemane as the perfect picture of obedience. If anyone had the right to reject and complain about what he was commanded to do, it was Jesus: the spotless Son, asked to carry and redeem the wrath of His Father toward a world of messed up people who deserved every punishment they had coming to them. But the Son accepted His Father’s command to become the world’s most complete picture of love and sacrifice.
There is something very beautiful in simply saying, “Yes, Lord, I will do as you will.” No excuses, no avoidance.
However, the reality is that this kind of graceful obedience comes at a price. Jesus had to die a painful death and take on the identity of a sinner to fulfill his “Yes.” His sorrow at Gethsemane was real as He agonized about what His Father willed. Yet He still left the decision where it belonged, with God the Father. Jesus didn’t try to bargain His way out. He didn’t try to make excuses for why He couldn’t. He didn’t challenge the Father with a series of “why me” questions.
To obey beautifully requires sacrifice of self to Someone way bigger than we are. Jesus led by example with His journey to the cross. His death and subsequent resurrection remain the most miraculous, life-affirming acts of love in history. Our acts of obedience to our Heavenly Father will result in the beauty of God’s plan unfolding as we grow in Him, both individually and as a body of believers. Let us strive to follow His steps by leaving personal agendas behind and simply, beautifully saying, “Yes, Lord.”
Are you willing to make the little and big sacrifices it takes to obey? What excuses need to disappear from your life so you can follow the Lord’s commands willingly? Pray and let the Spirit speak the Truth to you.
Blog entry by: Nancy Vasquez