Saturday, May 3, 2014

Reluctant Obedience

When I ask my children to do a chore or to help me with a task it is usually done with reluctance. They may have been in the middle of a game or their favorite television show. They may have been preparing to go outside with friends or perhaps they were simply tired. They are obedient but it is a reluctant obedience. It is still an obedience of love because they don't argue with me or refuse to help, they just don't appreciate having to do it at that particular moment. It is still an act of love. Often we serve Jesus in the same attitude.

I would like to say it is the attitude of an immature heart but I can't. Almost everyone feels some reluctance when we get interrupted in what we were doing. Sometimes we call these things, usually people, interruptions but they are actually opportunities. It is often the Spirit saying "I need you to get involved in this". It isn't that were are disobedient but more unappreciative about the timing. We still do it, just not with great enthusiasm. Thankfully the blessing is found in the obedience regardless of the reluctance.

Peter experienced this same thing when one day Jesus gave him instructions. Jesus had gotten into Peter's fishing boat in order to speak better to the crowd that had gathered. A lake or pond is a great natural amplifier, carrying the voice clearly to everyone along the shore. Peter had been up all night fishing and was rather tired. I am sure he just wanted to get his nets cleaned and get a bit of sleep. But then Jesus told him to go out to the fishing area and do a bit more fishing. Talk about reluctance. Peter responded:

Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net. (Luke 5:5)

I always find it amazing how the Lord often reveals himself in the ordinary things of life. I am also amazed at the blessings that are found in obedience. Reluctant or not, obedience is obedience. It is far better to obey with a full heart and enthusiasm, but, at the end of the day, what matters is that we did it. Remember the parable of the two sons. One was told to do something and he told his father no, but later he changed his mind and did it. The second son said yes but never got around to doing it. Jesus said the first son was obedient even though he was reluctant. Back to Peter.

Peter did go out to the fishing ground and he did put his nets back in the water. The result was almost comical. Remember they spent all night fishing and caught nothing. They spent two minutes with Jesus and:

And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. (Luke 5:6-7)

Physical blessings in obedience. Jesus paid Peter back for allowing him use of the boat, but more importantly is the spiritual blessing he receive from his obedience:

When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him. (Luke 5:8-11)

Sometimes we don't realize it at first or we don't remember the results of the last time we obeyed but, if we do remember, we remember that Jesus reveals himself in our obedience. It is in our submission that we draw closer to him and he to us and the bond between us grows. There is renewal and revival in obedience. There is experiencing the presence of Father in obedience. Greater understanding is given, greater revelation. We feel alive.

We may not understand the things he has us walk through, experience or has us do; we may not understand why these things happen at this particular moment in our lives; we may not even understand the full implication of the results, but obedience matters. Obedience comes with benefits and blessings. We obey out of love not for benefits and rewards but nonetheless they are a natural product of our obedience. Even reluctant obedience is accepted and rewarded. Understand this:

Whoever has my commands and does them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father and I too will love him and show myself to him. (John 14:21)

Meditate on this verse today and see if the Spirit gives to you new revelation concerning obedience, even the reluctant kind.

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