Confession 75: Trust and Obey… Is There No Other Way?

Lately, I’ve been working through a Bible study on the book of Philippeans entitled Becoming a Woman of Peace by Elizabeth George. When I picked it up, I thought it would be a message of perseverance, yet God has been leading me down another path in this study–the path of obedience. Whenever I hear the word obedience, I just cringe inside. It’s like taking cough medicine, I have to choke it down. Obedience is not something that comes naturally to me. On a grand scale, I’m an American. Fierce independence has been tilled into our very soil. Second, I’m a Midwestern girl. Midwesterners don’t take anything at face value. We work too hard and, quite literally, “weather” too much. It’s no accident that Missouri is called the “Show-Me State”. Third, I was raised to be an independent thinker. My parents encouraged me to have opinions and to make decisions on my own. In short, I don’t like being told what to do.

The problem is that as a Christian, that is exactly what I’m supposed to do. God speaks, I listen and say, “Yes, Sir!” God doesn’t want stubborn independence, but humble submission. As a Christian, I am called to be dependent–on God. And God has been reminding me of that a lot lately. Even in school. My English IV students just finished reading Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. In this play, violently independent Kate must learn submission to live peaceably with her demanding husband, Petruchio. In the end, Kate publicly chastises independent women, reminding them that their husbands work hard to provide for them, love them, care for them and protect them. In return, a husband should be given the gift of obedience by his wife. You can imagine the discussions we had about that!!

But, essentially, that is the same attitude we as Christians should have for God. God is our creator, our sustainor, our provider and protector. God loves us above all else, sacrificing even his own son for our redemption. And what we are asked of in return is love, trust, and obedience. It shouldn’t be hard, but it’s one of the hardest things we’re called to do. First, in order to obey, we have to trust in God’s goodness and faithfulness. And when you see a dark road looming ahead, that’s hard to do. It’s that leap of faith. The world screams at us not to jump, tells us not to be foolish, entreats us to hold on tight to what we know, even if it’s not in our best interest. Yet in the midst of that is the calm voice of God, hearkening us to listen through the noise, assuring us that when we leap, he will give us wings to fly.

I know all of this. Heck, I’ve even experienced it several times in my life. And the results were truly God-driven. I quit my job, moved to a distant city, went to seminary for a degree I never thought I wanted and met the love of my life. God pushed me there and I obeyed. To steal a line from Robert Frost, “that has made all the difference”.

Yet here I am, five years later, standing on the cusp of faith, doubting, rebelling, digging in my heels. And so God is calling out again. “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way…” Humble obedience. Paul writes in Philippeans of finishing a great race. And while he does speak of perseverance, the overall message is one of submission. Submit yourself to God, focus on God. Forget the past, push forward to the goal. Count all as loss for the gain of Christ. Just obey. Just obey.

Blessings and Peace,