Monday, April 7, 2008

The Freedom of Obedience

Those of us who have children understand the need for obedience. Most of the time we are able to explain to them why obedience is important for a particular situation, and it makes it easier for them to comply. (I need you to hold my hand in the parking lot so you don't get run over) But sometimes, we expect obedience without the benefit of conversation or discussion. (Stop!)

Our children may not see the car coming around the corner, or know that the cookie sheet just came out of the oven, but we expect them to respond to our command immediately. We understand that it's for their good and protection, and if they obey, danger is averted and all is well. But what if they disobey?

Not only will we be sorrowful and pained if they were to be hit by a car or burned by a hot cookie sheet, but they will also have to live with the consequences of their actions. When they have been hurt, it makes it easier to understand why obedience is so important the next time around.

I have been in a season of rebellion and pride. There has been someone that I work with that has wounded my pride, handled me roughly and generally made me very angry. My solution to the problem was to make his life as miserable as possible. I pointedly ignored him at every opportunity. I was sure to avoid him, going as far as leaving the room when he entered it. Basically, my heart was unforgiving, rebellious and hard towards this man and I was not interested in making any sort of change in my behavior.

To be perfectly honest, I enjoyed making him squirm. I reveled in the fact that I had power over him, and that I was making him pay for what he did to me. But the cost of my hardened heart was high. My prayer life has been non-existent, because that sin kept rearing it's ugly head and I was ashamed to even be talking to God. I would confess and repent of other sin, all the while trying to hide this one behind my back, like a child.

The Holy Spirit kept saying, "What's behind your back?", and I finally got tired of saying "Nothing" and just quit talking at all. With the lack of prayer life, my daily life got all out of whack. My patience is thin, I have used language I'm not proud of and my actions have been far from Christ-like. Going to church just made me feel like a hypocrite, and I was unable to truly worship or fellowship with this sin sitting like a rock in my soul.

Then last night, my small group started a Bible study on biblical parenting. The book is called Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp, and we are doing a 15 week DVD series. As I sat there and listened to Dr. Tripp explain that our children's behavior is rooted in a heart attitude, I was so convicted. Convicted of my "hidden" sin, and the fact that I could look great on the outside and do all the right things, but until I dealt with my heart issues and attitudes, I was simply like the Pharisees.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Matthew 23:25-28

I prayed right there that I would have the strength to face my sin and repent of it. I knew that the only way to make it right was to confess it first to God, and then to make amends with this man. So I confessed. And confessed. And confessed. And then I confessed some more. And then I repented. And can I just tell you how good that felt? A burden was lifted and I felt as though I had wings.

This morning, on the way to work I called Ronna to ask her to pray for me as I finished the last part of my journey. I still did not want to humble my pride and admit how wrong I had been for my behavior. Satan filled my head with excuses and reasons why it would be okay if I didn't mend this relationship. I could just start being nice, and not say anything. I could pretend like nothing had ever happened.

But that is not what the Holy Spirit made it clear I should do. I had to ask for forgiveness and repair what I had broken. That was the consequence of my sin. I was not obedient to the Word of God from the beginning, and the mess I made of this relationship was up to me to clean up and make new. It meant swallowing my pride and being humble, and ready for whatever he might have to say to me.

So I went to his office, closed the door and made amends. I took full responsibility for my actions, and asked him for his forgiveness. And you know what? He gave it with tears streaming down his face, and he asked mine in return. The relationship that I thought would never be whole was healed by the power of the Holy Spirit, because I obeyed God.

When we let go of our excuses and sad little agendas, we are freed by the power of the one true and living God. There is freedom in obedience.


luvmy4sons said...

What an awesome story. Thank you for your transparency. What a great ending. God is so good, and life works so well when we obey and follow His principles. I LOVE that book by Tedd Tripp! (insert fist pump and an ALRIGHT!)

Mocha with Linda said...

What an INCREDIBLE testimony. Thanks for sharing. I know God is smiling and saying "Look at my girl" today!!