The Practice of Obedience

I knew he wanted to sit in the front seat and there were no cars immediately behind us, waiting on us at the car line drop off, so I suggested he get out now and move up to the passenger seat beside me. Instead of obeying, he lingered, looking at the cars behind us, distrusting, unsure if I knew what might come up and cause us to be in someone’s way.

“There’s a car,” he said.

There was a car, but we couldn’t move until Owen was finished anyway, and there was still room in front of and behind our car. I urged him again, to come up to the front before it was too late.

“This is a good time,” I said.

He waited. He waited until there really was someone there, until there was no time anymore, so I drove away with him still in the back and parked in the parking lot as we often do until his classroom is open.

He wanted to move then, bring his bag and sit with me in the front where I let him play any song he wants and run the heated seats for a few minutes. But I told him not to. Instead, I got out and sat in the back with him and we talked.

I told him that he should have listened to me. That he can trust me. When I tell him to move, he should move and not try to see if I know what I’m talking about. I’m aware of what’s around us and I won’t steer him wrong.

I asked him if he knows what makes him look, and check, and see for himself the way he does and he looked concerned. I told him he’s a leader. He has the instincts to look out for himself and others and it’s a very good thing to be cautious and careful and to check on his surroundings. I told him that he will be able to help lots of people by being so well wired and independent. I love that about him, and I told him so.

There’s something more important than leadership though, and I wanted him to see it.

“This, listening to mom and dad and obeying without question, this is practice,” I said.

Someday God is going to ask this boy to do something that doesn’t sound logical and if he has learned to question more than to obey, he’ll miss something amazing.

We talked about Abraham, how earlier in his life he tried to handle problems his way. He lied about his wife, and said she was his sister so he wouldn’t be killed. God had already promised Abraham a full and prosperous life, He was not going to let him die over his wife’s beauty. As Abraham grew in his friendship with God though, he trusted Him more and more. He let Lot choose first when they had land to divide, knowing God would give him everything he needed. Finally, he heard God tell him to do the most illogical thing of all. He took his son Isaac and prepared to kill him as a sacrifice. It didn’t make sense, it wasn’t right, it wasn’t good, it was hurtful and painful and awful, but he was willing. He had learned to listen and obey God, and God rewarded him. God gave him all that He had promised and his name is still legendary among Jews and Gentiles alike.

I looked at Aron and I said, “You are a lot like Abraham I think. Do you suppose, that the sooner you learn to obey God’s voice without question, the sooner you’ll become a man like Abraham was?”

He nodded. His eyes were getting bigger as we talked.

I told him that thousands of years after his death, the Bible talks about Abraham and calls him a friend of God. “What do you think people will say about you someday, I said.”

“That I’m a great man!” he was quick to respond.

I think so too. So often it seems strange what God will ask of us, but always, always, always, He is looking for a closer relationship with us. God didn’t need Isaac’s blood shed, he needed the assurance of Abraham’s trust and confidence in Him.

“Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22

“To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Mark 12:33

“You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” Psalm 51:16-17

“To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” Proverbs 21:3

God isn’t looking for perfection from us, His desire for obedience is strictly based on His longing for intimacy with us. We respond in obedience, not out of fear of His wrath, but out of our own response to His amazing love. Obedience is not a line we dare not cross, it’s a step we long to take, and opportunity we crave, to be closer and closer to the face of God.

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