I’m an American, so needless to say, the words “obedience” and “submission” can be a little tough to swallow. I mean, nobody loves to give into someone else, and I think America’s anti-authority culture gives even the idea of “obeying” a bad rap. It’s like a sign of weakness or something.
But as I learn what it means to follow God — our great Shepherd, our perfect Father — I am learning the art, the beauty, and the joy of submitting and obeying. And if I want to be truly changed, if I want to be rid of sin, if I want God to use me powerfully…it’s really the most important thing. It’s all about a walk of faith and obedience. We ask, He speaks, we follow.
Can it really be this simple? It’s like we think that if we just get it “figured out” in our own minds, if we just work hard enough, if we just say the right things, then God will move. God will work. When what He really wants is an intimate relationship, where we walk closely with Him and allow Him to speak into every area of our lives. But we won’t hear Him if we won’t listen and obey.
I understand the hesitation, though. I get it. Every step we take closer, every way that God reveals Himself comes at a cost. It pulls out our weaknesses and struggles and forces us to deal with them. It challenges us, stretches us, and molds us — just like any good Father would hope to do. The more I know God, the more I understand that verse that says, “When someone has been given much, much will be required.” (Luke 12:48)
So that leaves us at crossroads. Are we going to let that stop us? Are we going to stop asking and stop seeking…so we stop hearing what He would say to us? That’s the thing that grieves me, because I think many of us do. We follow God, we listen and obey…to a point. And no, it’s not direct disobedience; it’s not usually even on purpose. But we exchange the “great things” of God for what is “good.” We refuse to go any deeper, even though God offers Himself and His gifts and His guidance to us without limit.
I pray we never stop asking, seeking, knocking. I pray that we will receive the fullness of God and all that He is holding out to us. Isn’t that what we really want anyway?
And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
-Luke 11:9-13 (ESV)