Webster’s dictionary defines ‘obey’ as “to comply, to submit to the authority of.”
Anytime that we obey, there is a price to be paid. At the very least, we have to submit to the authority of the one that we are obeying. The price that we pay is our independence. When we agree with the one that we are obeying, we may not recognize that we are actually submitting our independence in the process.
However, if we disagree with the command, the price is even higher. We are still required to lay down our independence. We are also required to lay down our preferences, choices (to do or not to do), and desires. Especially when we are being stretched or pruned, we may be required to comply with something that seems wholly foreign to our natural self.
Every time that we obey, it should strengthen us and help us to be obedient in more difficult situations. Unfortunately, there are many times that we miss these opportunities for growth because we forget the ‘why’ behind our obedience.
When we share out of our abundance with others…or when we allow someone else to go before us…or when we choose to forgive someone who has offended us, we often say,
“It was just the right thing to do.”
Our actions are exactly right. We are obedient to the commands of Abba, but we have forgotten that our motivation for doing all of these things is obedience to Abba.
We run into difficulty when we are forced to choose between obedience to Abba and our own desires. When we simply don’t want to obey. For those who have made a life-style out of choosing disobedience, through destructive addictions and habits, this can be particularly difficult.
In my own life, I chose self-satisfaction over obedience to Abba so consistently, that even when I wanted to change, it was just too difficult to ‘Just Say No’ to me. My breakthrough came when I began to choose obedience, intentional obedience, in the little things. Eventually, as my love for Abba and awareness of his goodness and grace in my life grew, I was strengthened to say no to behaviors that were destructive to me.
Proverbs 3:6 tells us “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (ESV) The power in this verse is in the word ‘ALL’. When we make it a habit of acknowledging our obedience to Abba, especially in the things that we do that just seem ‘right’, we will have greater ability to say ‘no’ to the big things that come along to derail us.
A friend once told me that he prays before leaving work to get lunch each day. He acknowledges Abba’s control of his life, and seeks His plan for that day. My friend doesn’t want his personal hunger to get in the way of a divine encounter that Abba has planned for him somewhere else.
Acknowledge Abba in the everyday choices of life – the ones don’t seem to matter – and you will have greater strength to acknowledge Abba in the situations that repeatedly destroy your confidence and faith.