About three years ago, our intercountry adoption of two daughters was not going well. The rest of the story – as I’ve shared here before – is that on this side of the ocean, it failed. I remember being in the midst of such sorrow and pain as we fought for those children by submitting document after document, and appealing what seemed thoughtless decisions by our US Customs and Immigration department. While I never questioned God’s motives, I most definitely felt hurt by what I felt was such unfairness, perhaps not AT His hand, but ALLOWED by Him. Which, when I think about it, is pretty hair-splitting. I doubt it matters. But, I knew then, as I know now, that He is good, and that he works everything out for his people according to His good will and purpose.
But back to that moment—the moment of anguish – the dark night of my soul.
I may have shared this, too, but it has impacted me so much that if I am re-sharing, I don’t mind at all. One Sunday, I was in church, greeting people at greeting time, because that’s what you do at greeting time, and I happened upon a dear friend who looked into my eyes and asked me how I was doing with the adoption. You know how it is when you can’t kid a kidder? Well, I couldn’t fake out someone who knew me so well, by a trite, “Oh, it’s a bummer, but doing okay,” response. I started sobbing because I have no chill whatsoever, as the kids say. After holding me for a moment, this wise, dear friend said, “I know it’s hard, babe, but the thing is, you’re either gonna trust God or you’re not, right?”
There’s a truth bomb that I don’t necessarily like all the time. Just being honest.
I’m either gonna trust God or I’m not.
This post’s topic is the word, ‘obey’. But for some reason, ’trust’ kept popping up in my head as a place to begin writing. Here’s my take on why: I submit that out of trust, or faith (I’m using them synonymously here), comes obedience. We (okay the Israelites and I, for example) are a stubborn, selfish people, who don’t like to submit in obedience at all, especially if we don’t know WHY, can’t see the whole picture, and don’t know how it will benefit us. I quite abhor the term “little sinner”, which is what many people endearingly (?) call a baby. It makes me cringe because babies give me so much hope for the future. BUT, I see why people use the term! From birth, we are out for #1. If you have ever parented a child through even the first three years of life, you KNOW that they think their way is much better than yours. Or maybe I’m the only mom who had to scrape a tantrumming toddler off the floor at Target, or stop hitting/biting in its tracks, or fought bedtime battles. Good times.
We ARE sinners, and while those who follow Jesus are saved by His grace (yahooooo!) that earthly pull towards selfish behavior remains, requiring us to fight it until we go to heaven. And I think it stems from a lack of trust. Sure, we can obey without trust, but then there is no personal connection to the behavior. It’s meaningless. Christ came down from heaven to rescue us chiefly because He wanted to be (re)connected with us, so I can’t accept that He’d want blind obedience. I believe He wants us to have faith because of all He has shown us and told us about Himself and God and the Holy Spirit. Out of that faith, we can trust, and out of that trust, obey—even if we can’t see the outcome or don’t LIKE the outcome, we trust that God does, and can obey accordingly, in peace.
Parenthood is a picture of Christ’s love for his children.
We don’t want to upset our kids, but eating popsicles all day long and never brushing their teeth is not healthy for children. We want to give them all of the good things, but sometimes good things include bedtime at a decent hour and other disciplinary limits. We see the big picture. They do not. Similarly, as God’s child, I could really get carried away by my slothly, gluttonous ways because: I love food nearly to idol status (hello pizza, avocados, Mexican food, and chocolate I’m talkin’ to you) and adore hanging out, being lazy. BUT, God knows this isn’t the best life for me. He wants me to obey Him not because he wants to take my yummy food away, but because he wants me to trust that His food is so much better. His rest is so much more than I could ever experience on my bed watching Netflix or scrolling on my phone. His ways are the best ways, and when I trust that this is true (because it IS true), I find that I have more balance in my life. Yes, I can have my Mexican food, but I can also say no to daily overindulgence. Yes, I can rest and take Sabbath, but I can also serve my family and community with the love (and sometimes, sweat equity) of Jesus.
Yes, I can rest and take Sabbath, but I can also serve my family and community with the love (and sometimes, sweat equity) of Jesus.
When I’m actively immersed into God’s love for me through meditation and prayer, time in His Word, and ministry to and with His people, the inevitable offshoot is that my faith, trust, and yes, obedience will increase, and I will become more like Him. But it takes work. It takes focus. It takes dedication.
We can either trust God or not. I’m choosing, each day—thank You for new mercies, God – to trust and obey.
How about you?