Obedience Isn’t Optional

Have you ever seen a child clap his hands over his ears when he doesn’t want to listen? Joey, my five-year old son, often tries this trick. He’s convinced that if he covers his ears tightly enough he won’t have to obey the command he’s missing. Sometimes he even hums loudly to make sure he’s drowning me out.

When this happens, I bend down, peer into Joey’s eyes, and pry his tiny hands off his ears. I remind him that obedience isn’t optional in our home. I reinforce my expectations. And then I help him follow through.

If I’m not careful, I can mimic my five-year old. I can easily cover my ears when the Holy Spirit whispers to my soul. But He nudges me with the same truth I teach Joey: obedience isn’t optional.

It was the last morning of the She Speaks 2010 conference, and it had been a weekend filled with the overwhelming presence of God. As the keyboard echoed a beautiful melody and Cheri Keaggy’s voice reverberated through the conference ballroom in a hymn of praise, the Lord stirred my spirit.

“Kneel down, put your face to the ground, and worship Me,” He said. My flesh groaned and I thought, “Lord, there are 600 women in this room. They’re all gonna think I’m weird.” But I knew what I had heard. So I got down on my face before God and humbled my prideful flesh.

In the stillness of surrender, the Lord spoke again. “When you return to Oxford, you’re going to tell Eric what I’ve done in your life this weekend. Then you need to ask his permission to testify about how I’ve miraculously moved and tell him you feel led to corporately repent in front of the entire congregation.”

Corporately repent? In front of 1000 people?

With my face low to the ground, I thought I might vomit as I wrestled with the magnitude of God’s request. Yet I knew I had to obey, and I made a vow to the Lord that if Pastor Eric allowed me to speak I would do exactly what He’d asked of me.

As our time of worship drew to a close, the She Speaks staff invited us to come and lay our prayer requests at the foot of one of the two wooden crosses stationed at each end of the ballroom and pick up a promise from God’s Word from the hundreds waiting for us there.

When I laid my request down at the foot of the cross and picked up my promise, hot tears began streaming down my face. The verse read, “If you [really] love Me, you will keep (obey) My commands. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever.” John 14:15-16, Amplified Version

Immediately I knew what the Lord had spoken over my life moments earlier would indeed come to pass. That’s because love is tied to obedience, and you can’t love God and refuse to obey Him.

As I sat in the hotel lobby a few hours later waiting to catch my shuttle to the airport, the Lord arranged an appointment with Linda Hicks, another conference attendee. Linda was on the speaker’s track, and when she said she had a passion for teaching women the importance of obedience, I knew the Lord was about to divinely deliver another message.

“My husband had given me biblical grounds for divorce,” Linda began. “Every Saturday we met for counseling with our pastor and then had breakfast together. But this particular Saturday was different. During breakfast, the Lord said to me, ‘Linda, it’s time to take him home.’ And I thought, ‘No Lord! I can’t take him home. I’m not ready! I haven’t gotten over this.’ And the Lord said again, ‘Linda, today is the day. You must take him home!’ ” So Linda obeyed.

Linda continued, “That night, after some wonderful horizontal fellowship, I lay in my husband’s arms, my head resting against his sweaty chest as I listened to his heart pounding. He looked at me intently and said, ‘Linda, thank you. I love you so much.’ And those were the last words he ever spoke to me. He had a massive heart attack and died.”

Once again hot tears stung my eyes as I sat speechless in the oversized lounge chair next to Linda. God chose to use her in my life to make sure I didn’t wonder if I’d heard Him clearly that morning.

Needless to say, I obeyed God. And even though I thought I might be sick to my stomach as I approached the pulpit the following Sunday, I boldly proclaimed the truth God had so clearly spoken over my life.

Precious sister, is God asking for obedience in a particular area of your life? If so, I pray that you’ll fall on your face in sweet surrender to the One who can help you walk in obedience despite all of your fears and insecurities.