Obedience is a subject that is greatly misunderstood and devalued in our society, but its importance to our walks of faith is no less essential today. I tell my children all the time that without obedience, they will completely miss their God-given destiny. Individuals can have talent, knowledge and charisma, but without the fortified roots of obedience, their intentions will be empty of action and the their lives will be void of results. Obedience is the energy force that keeps us going even when everything inside of us tells us to quit.
They key to an elevated life with Christ is obedience—it lifts us up out of our selfish path of mediocrity and sets us on glorious wings of God (Isaiah 40.31). On our own, we will not suffer through the hardships necessary to establish the fullness of God’s glory in our lives. It is out of the struggle that God’s glory shines brightest, and only obedience will keep our resolve strong and our diligence unyielding. Our obedience can be buffered by hope and protected by faith, but even when the slightest ray of beauty diminishes from our circumstances, obedience will maintain the steadfastness of our course.
“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later” (Romans 8.18 NLT).
The truth of obedience is seen in the crucifixion of our Lord, Jesus Christ. He was about to experience sin and separation from His Father, and He asked God to “please take this cup of suffering away from me.” But out of a heart of obedience, Jesus added the final words: “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Luke 22.42 NLT). This awesome act of obedience even unto a physical and spiritual death to take the sins of the world unleashed the greatest demonstration of God’s glory onto the earth—salvation from sin and victory over death!
“And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death” (Romans 8.2 NLT).
I remember when I met my friend and coach, Tasha, over seven years ago. She and her husband were new to the home group that my husband and I co-lead for our church. She sat at my table and told me that she was going to be a physical trainer. I asked her if she worked out, and she said no. Coming from someone who has worked out all her adult life, I didn’t quite understand her declaration, but I saw in her a rare look of determination. Little did I know that seven years later, she would be teaching and coaching me for my first bodybuilding competition.
Tasha seeded her destiny with her words, “I will be a physical trainer,” and she grew that destiny—with the guidance of the Holy Spirit—with her actions. Her obedience is what transformed her words into reality. Her path wasn’t easy. She struggled to reach her goals. But here she is today, effectively and safely coaching women to the best shape of their lives. She’s teaching me fitness concepts and exercises that are totally new to me, and she’s helping me to create a healthier lifestyle as I say goodbye to my younger and higher metabolic years.
“So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55.11 ESV).
The same is true for my life, as well. I was not a reader growing up. In fact, I remember an elementary school friend telling me she had to go home and read, and I couldn’t understand why she would rather look at a book than play outside with me. I was athletic, and I liked to be on the move. When God told me at the start of my junior year in college that I was going to be a writer, I literally stopped, shrugged my shoulders and said, “Well, I guess I better start reading then.” Obviously, you can’t be a writer unless you read books! It would be like a personal trainer who doesn’t work out—it doesn’t make sense!
A writer’s bio usually begins with “I started avidly reading books when I was 5 years old.” I just have to laugh because if I were to write the same sentence, I would have to change it to “I started reading avidly in my mid-twenties.” But despite my setbacks, I heard what God had claimed over my life. He said I would be a writer, so I kicked my obedience into high gear. I got my undergraduate degree in English, I got my master’s degree in English, I taught high school and college English, I wrote my first book, I started writing on my blog, I started editing other people’s writing, and I started writing more books. The path was not easy, but I was obedient in action to the words that God said—I would be a writer!
“In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1.11-12 NIV).
When God gives you a word of destiny, I can guarantee that it will not be easy. In fact, it will be harder than you thought, take longer than you thought and be way less exciting than you thought; but the rewards of obedience will far outweigh the hardships. God will establish His glory in your life. He will use you to shine His love onto this world. He will empower you with His passion, so you can wake up each day knowing that you HAVE a mighty and beautiful purpose in Christ.
Stay obedient to what you first heard—don’t let your feelings or circumstances cause you to quit and walk away. Be like Jesus when facing death on the cross. Tell God your fears and heartache, but always add the simple, yet powerful phrase of obedience: “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” God will lift you up on eagle’s wings. He will fly you to greater heights. Don’t be content with comfortable and normal—allow the Holy Spirit to lead you up the steep slopes of struggle, so you can gain access to the mighty mountaintop of God’s glory!
“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”
– Isaiah 60.1-3 (NIV)