Sharing ObedienceI have wrestled greatly with obedience over the last year, especially this fall. God is good, and I am presently seeing the rewards of waiting and continuing in obedience. The following is a journal entry I wrote while proctoring an exam over a month ago. Even though it is personal and now past, but I wanted to share it because it is a good reminder that while we see the small parts in front of us, God has the big picture in His hand. Praise God for the ministry of His Spirit and for His work in our lives. I hope it is an encouragement to you.
24. Sept. 07
I'm sitting in class right now. The students are anxiously bent over their first exam. I think the pages are now wet with sweat. Mine too. I don't know what I'll do if they all fail it. Tragedy for them and me.
I've been thinking a lot about obedience lately. I never knew until taking this job how physical obedience can be. When you have to act on something where you heart is not, especially if you know it's right, even your body itself must obey. Even in an hour and half commute. I hate commuting -- I've done it all my life. My dream is to live somewhere where walking to and from is an option. I'm driving nearly three hours a day and I don't even have cruise control. It is surprising to feel the effects of obedience even by just pressing the gas pedal. It seems silly, but it is real to me. I'm tired and not sleeping well. I've been sick already this semester. The curse of sin is definitely felt in the body. For what purpose I am here in this room right now, I don't understand at all. But I know with some sense of peace that being here right now is where I should be and that I'd be outside of God's will to be anywhere else.
I've also thought that maybe God has me here simply to teach me this lesson of obedience. If we grow through pain then maybe the whole point of this is simply a test to see how I will respond and how I will grow because of it. If I don't truly understand this process in my own experience, how could God ever use me to minister and to encourage someone else?
I read this quote today in The Imitation of Christ. "Many are under obedience more out of necessity than of charity and they have great pain and easily murmur and complain; they will never have liberty or freedom of spirit until they submit themselves wholly to their superiors." And later Kempis says, "Dreaming of a change of place has deceived many a person in religion."
I think he might really be talking about his situation in a fourteenth century monastery, but the truth of obedience is the same. If we are obedient because we have to be, then there is no joy and we focus only on negatives. But if we are obedient because it is a response to our love for God and our trust in His sovereignty, then there really is freedom. I think that is freeing because then you don't have to defend yourself or who you are or why you're doing such and such. You just do it and pursue it one hundred percent and all the while, you are one hundred percent yourself. Obedience negates any reason to hide. Obedience lets you live in the open. I think that is freeing.