A Lesson in Obedience

I am on the brink of an explosion.

 My battle against my flesh is brewing so strongly and I feel trapped at the bottom of a pit just barely trying to peel away tiny little layers to catch some air… only to have a million more bricks come crashing down right when I peel one away. I want to just bury my head and disappear until I can wake up and find things in order the way they would satisfy me (selfishness).

 I know God is doing something big in my life and in the life of my family but for the time being I don’t want to walk the way He is taking us to get us there (disobedience). Every day are a million ups and downs… one second my perspective on our situation and my marriage and my performance as a mother are bright and hopeful and all it takes is one talk back remark from Amelia or one comment from Adam that rubs me the wrong way or one thing about our living situation that is difficult and my temporary brightness and hopefulness is immediately darkened and crashes down on me all at once… and the worse part is that the offender usually receives the brunt of the crash. I choose undeserved punishment as opposed to discipline for Amelia’s actions and I choose harsh words, or sometimes even worse… silence, to Adam for the way he rubbed me wrong. And these decisions only leave me feeling worse for the lack of control over my reactions.

 We have been really focusing on teaching Amelia the importance of listening and obeying. That she only needs to be told once and she needs to listen the first time. Our expectations of her are to trust what we are asking her to do and not argue with us or whine at us and throw a fit but out of respectful obedience to do the thing we are asking her to do (or not do for that matter) (Colossians 3:20). And if she does not obey then there is a consequence. I am constantly reminding her to check her attitude, to do things with a happy heart (Proverbs 15:13), to do all things without complaining (Philippians 2:14) and to say nice words to people. AND THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT GOD IS ASKING ME TO DO. The exact lesson I am trying to teach my 2 1/2 year old is the exact lesson God is trying to teach one of his 27 year olds! You would have thought I would have this down by now. This is why my drive to teach my children these lessons young is so strong because I hope that when they get older it will be so ingrained in them to respond in these Godly ways that they will not struggle in the same way I do (Proverbs 22:6).

 God is really trying to break my heart of bitterness and unforgiveness and selfishness and pride and discontentment and the pattern of all of these sinful things is found in these verses:

 “… walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3

 “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” Colossians 3:12-14

 “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32

 “… that you put off, concerning your former conoduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24

 “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4

 This follows a “put off” and “put on” mentality. God is telling us what to put off and what to put on instead and there is a clear connection to the repetitiveness of these scriptures. God is clearly telling us that our natural reaction (the sin of our flesh) is to respond in bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking, malice, pride, selfishness, conceit, impatience, hatred, disunity, roughness and unforgiveness (how would that be for a character description on your eulogy). And he commands us (these are not suggestions but commandments that we are to be obedient to) to instead respond in lowliness, gentleness, patience, love, unity, tenderness, kindness, humility, meekness, forgiveness and love (essentially the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-25). It sounds easy enough but how easy is it when you’re tired, cranky, hungry, spent all day disciplining a child who seems to not understand what you’re teaching, experiencing a disconnect from your husband because of the time requirements from a new job, being out of your “comfort zone” whatever that may be, etc., etc. The list of normal day to day emotions that we feel can go on and on and on but none of that matters to God because He has called us to higher standards than reacting the way that would be considered normal for someone to react in difficult circumstances. God calls us to act higher, or “worthy of our calling”; to rise above the temptations of our flesh and the lies of this world and to “put on the new man… in true righteousness and holiness”.

 The last two weeks or so that God has really been impressing this on my heart I have failed MISERABLY in all these areas. I am DESPERATELY seeking God for His strength, patience, wisdom, humility, forgiveness, love and GRACE so I can begin changing my heart towards His desires and will. I have been waiting so long to change because I have been waiting to “feel” like it… for it to be “easy”. I’ll show love when I feel like it and it’s easy; I don’t feel like forgiving because I’m still hurt so I’ll forgive once I feel like it and it’s easier, etc. But our feelings are deceptive. Jeremiah 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked”. Our faith and relationship with God is not based on how we feel but it is based on truth and obedience… black and white. God is asking me to be obedient to this. Period. No ifs, ands or butts or I will when I feel like it and it’s easy. Herein lies the same lesson that we are teaching Amelia, to listen and obey. Period. And this is not easy to do therefore I will focus on…

 … coming “boldly to the throne of grace, that [I] may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16. And this one for God comes with no ifs, ands or butts. He will provide grace for me to become who He wants me to become. Period.

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