The Gift of Obedience

I have been working on my “shoulding.” I decided that since I am such a “lover of crossing things off lists,” I would write all the things I should do down, and then enjoy crossing them off when I did them—or let it go when I didn’t. And it has actually been helping.
Part of it has been a re-framing. I mean the fact is, I’m a mom of three, we own a home, have a yard, friends—there are just a lot of things I should do. But the truth is that I have three great kids, I actually own a home with a yard and I have friends and I get to do things for them. Yes, it feels like drudgery at times, but that is just a part of the deal when live in community. There is a lot to do.
I think one of the things that helped a bit was when one of my kids told me he wasn’t a fan of how strict the Bible is. I told him that God tells us what to do because God wants us to have a good life. And life is better when you obey God. I said, imagine if I went on dates with other men and wasn’t faithful to your dad. That would be awful, right? He agreed [of course]. So I said that is why God tells us what to do. A married couple being faithful is important for them, for their kids and for their community. Obeying God’s Laws [shoulds] are about making life better for us and for others.
Obey or obedience are not words I use that often in my faith life. I know a lot of other Christians talk about those words a lot. I think I have shied away from it because I worry that if it is all about “obeying” God, then that starts to make God someone who demands my obedience. And I can never measure up. That is why God came as Jesus—to measure up on our behalf.
But I think I forgot about the part of obedience that is life-giving. Like when you can depend on your partner to be faithful. Like when you can depend on your friends to help you out.
When God first gave the law to the Israelites, he told them that he was giving them the commandments so that it would be good for them in the land. We obey God because God knows what is best.
I don’t want to keep “shoulding” myself, or finding ways to beat myself up for all I should be doing. But I also want to obey God, and that means loving God and loving and helping my neighbor. And when I do those things, even if I am doing them because I should, there is something really beautiful and life-giving for all concerned in that.
I’m realizing that obedience is really about letting go of your own self-centeredness and being about loving and serving your neighbor. This is what makes the world a good place. When we live for each other rather than our own selfish interests.
Of course we fail all the time. But we also keep getting new chances to obey the Lord. So here is to second [and 1000th!]chances and the gift of obedience.

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