To obey or not to obey, that is the question, but this is not a new question. This is a wrestling match between the spirit and flesh that has plagued man since the beginning of time. When Eve was tempted to pursue what God said was forbidden it resulted in the cataclysmic fall of man. The far reaching effects of the disobedience of even one cannot be fathomed, for we still see the choice of Adam and Eve in the garden in our fallen world. Christ made another way and offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice to redeem man from his fallen state. His salvation is sure and His grace covers us. We find ourselves at the coming end of this story waiting on God to make all of His enemies His footstool. There is so much more to experience when we reach the end of time, and we will never regret following Him to the end of ourselves. But looking at the here and now, let us ask the hard questions.
Is it worth it to offer our lives to Christ in full and utter obedience? What do we do when we struggle with staying on the path the Lord has for us? What if we find ourselves in the valley of decision where we want to run from our current circumstances, pursue another situation, be with this person or that one, use various methods to sedate ourselves, or exalt ourselves in organizational realms? What if we were to go our own way and cast off everything God has prepared us for only to pursue what we think we want? What if we are living a life we thought would look different, do we make our own way to claw and strive for happiness or do we wait upon the Lord to make our way, bless us, promote us, and fulfill us in His way and timing? What giftings are hindered, what words of life are not spoken, what broken hearts are not mended, what healings are not manifested, how many people of the nations are not seeing God’s light perfected in His beautified vessels because of disobedience?
What could God do with one life totally committed to Him, to a life that says, “Not my will but Thine be done” and “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” There is a time when the Lord moves us into new things, but there is also a time when we must choose by faith to stand right where we are and wait for the Lord to slay or bless us. What if we were never to have another desire met for the rest of our lives if we were to stay right where we are? Would we offer this as a costly and fragrant sacrifice to Christ or would we go our own way, in our own strength to try to obtain that elusive dream of fulfilled desires by our own hand. When we do not hold every thought captive to Christ, the enemy can wrestle with our hearts over such matters of obedience until it seems we are physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted.
The world says we deserve to be happy and have all of our desires met no matter what we have to do to get it or the cost to those around us. The struggle is intense, for we can vividly imagine the promise of a new circumstance if we cast off the old. The tactic of the enemy is to give short sighted vision so all we can see is what we don’t have and the best parts of what we could have. In such a struggle to choose obedience, there is a tendency to be blinded to all the blessings Christ has already bestowed and those blessings He is preparing to pour out. Also, during a session of wrestling with our flesh, the fact that God has good and many plans for us will grow dim in our view of the situation. This is an eternal truth we must not forget – no good thing does He withhold.
If we do not have that which we ache for most, then there is a reason He has not delivered it into our hands or given us peace to pursue. That person, place, thing or idea which we think we must have would soon turn to ashes or utterly consume us. Were we to pursue, we would give up more of His peace, presence, the greatness of knowing Him, than we could count. When we wait upon God to bless us, fulfill what we have need of in His way and timing, and follow Him in complete obedience then here we can taste and see that the Lord is good.
If we look only upon our temporal circumstances and try to obey in our limited strength, we quickly lose our way and begin to pursue other ways and means. We will often return to those lower ways that we try to contrive to bring us fulfillment that are not pleasing to Him. The only way to obedience full and free it to make our desires completely laid bare before Him. In the book the School of Obedience (1898), Andrew Murray explains, “Obedience is only possible in a life of unceasing fellowship with Himself. The inspiration of His voice, the light of His eyes, the grasp of His hand make it possible, make it certain. Come and let us bow down, and yield ourselves to this Christ. Obedience unto death, in the faith that He makes us partakers with Himself of all He is and has.”
When we rest in His presence, even for a moment, we are beckoned to go higher in Him. We can sense the Lover of our souls wooing us to come to a more intimate place in Him, beyond what the world knows or what we have experienced. Murray(1898) compares the follower’s choice to obey fully as entering the promised land and reveals, “we can only reach it by a new inflow of the power that comes from above. It is only by a faith that gets a new vision and hold of the powers of the heavenly world, secured to us in Christ, that we can obey and obtain the promise.” The truth is that the only promised land is the one we find when we follow and love Christ with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind.
In His presence we sense our purpose and reason for being, and it is so far above those temporal pleasures and draws of the flesh. Let us be vessels that follow on, knowing no temptation has come to us but what is common to man. Let us run our race by casting off every hindrance and fantasies of the ‘what if’ were we to follow our own desires and did not pursue Christ fully. Let us have faith to allow God to do what He will in and through our lives. The beauties and wonder He has prepared cannot be compared to anything we could gain or experience by our own hand.
Our level of obedience evidences our level of faith in Christ. We must choose to surrender all to Christ and live every moment to the hilt in utter obedience to right where He has us. Here in His presence all things are possible and our lives can be a light to bring forth and establish His kingdom and bring forth His will on earth as it is in Heaven. There is so much more past the brambles of our own desires. Let us move on in Him in the fragrant offering of obedience.
- “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:1-6
- “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” Romans 6:15-18