It’s Just the Right Thing To Do

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.

Field of Weeds or Dandelion Dreams

I decided at the end of last year to FINALLY try to do something about our lawn.  Over the last 14 years, my regular maintenance has been…

  1.  Cut the grass at least once a month, maybe twice, whether it needed it or not.
  2.  Cut it as short as possible so that it wouldn’t look too bad for the next 2-3 weeks.

The result was a lawn that was mostly green, except for several large patches of dirt that seem to be growing, and a sea of dandelions which would eventually go to seed and produce an ocean of beautiful yellow flowers the next time it rained.

Knowing not where to begin, I turned on my trusty companion and ‘Google’d it’ (you do know that Google is a verb, right?).  I looked at several websites and was truly amazed that all of them gave the same advice, and it wasn’t the advice that I expected.

I had assumed that there was some daily regimen or plan of attack to drive back the dandelion fiends to the borders of my neighbors yard and then with the wind at my back, strike the blow that would sever the heads off of those devilish blossoms of Beelzebub.  Alas, there was not.  The instructions were actually quite simple:

  1. Spread some weed and feed over the entire yard to bring the weeds under control.
  2. Cut the grass consistently, preferably once per week, to strengthen the grass.
  3. Let the grass grow tall, which helps the grass and drowns out the weeds.

That’s it?

In a nutshell they suggested that I treat the weeds once and then do everything that I can to ensure that I my lawn is healthy.

Huh.

So I did, and much to my surprise the dandelions, and many of the other weeds, began to die.  I also raised the blades on my mower a couple of notches and have been cutting the grass every week for the past 2 months.  Every week when I mow the lawn, it amazes me at how thick and soft the grass is becoming.  And I can now walk around the yard every few days and pinch the heads off of maybe 6 or 8 of those yellow beasts and that is it.  Lawn maintained.

So what it the point?

Much of my adult life has revolved around fighting weeds that have taken root in my heart.  Weeds of addiction, insecurity, doubts, fears, anxiety, and too many others to name.  I have spent A LOT of time waging war against those weeds.  I have been completely focused on killing weeds with no focus on my spiritual lawn.  I would fight, get tired, rest a few weeks, and then go full-tilt against the weeds again in an effort to beat them back.

But they just kept coming.  And with reinforcements.

I have known several men who, like me, had struggles against addictions that were never-ending and who were losing ground everyday.  But I think that a new battle plan is in order.  Instead of worrying about the weeds so much, focus on the lawn.

  1. Determine what your issues and triggers are, and put tools and protections in place to keep you safe.  And you need to BE ACCOUNTABLE to someone throughout the process.  This will begin to kill the weeds.
  2. CONSISTENTLY read the bible and pray.  I recommend that you use the New Living Translation One-Year Bible.  The NLT is easily read and understood and the One-Year Bible takes all of the thinking out of it.  Just open it up and read.  And look for passages that speak to you about YOUR life and struggle, and pray those over yourself.
  3. Let your spiritual life GROW.  It WILL drown out the weeds.  Worship is crucial.  Turn off talk and sports radio and instead listen to some instrumental or worship music on Pandora or Spotify and meditate on the goodness of God while you are commuting to work or exercising.  Find a place at your church or in your community to serve those who are less fortunate.  Worship will open your heart to who God is and service will reveal what He is doing in the world, and where he wants you to join in.

In short, treat the weeds in your life, but spend your energy growing a healthy spiritual lawn.

The other day I was out in my backyard playing with our 4 month old, 40 pound, Old English Bulldog named Rocky.  There is a spot in the yard where the grass has become particularly thick and soft.  I kicked off my shoes, which Rocky quickly stole and ran off with, and laid down in the soft grass, enjoying the warmth of the sun on my face.

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength.  He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Psalm 23:1-3 NLT.

It’s going to be alright.