Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Immediate Obedience

It happened again. I was coming out of Wendy's last week, and a man stopped me to ask for my help. He wanted to know where the nearest DMV office was so he could purchase a license. Up until that point he had been unable to afford one, and he needed to know how to get there by bus. I stopped and talked with him and pulled up the information he requested on my phone. So far, so good.

Somewhere in that process, I heard the Holy Spirit plain as day tell me, "You need to give him a ride to the DMV." But, I had just bought a frosty as part of my lunch and didn't want it to melt. I needed to get back to work. He reeked of cigarette smoke. Blah, blah, blah. As I was getting back in my car, I remembered that I had an outreach Bible, and I thought something like, "Well, at least I can give him a Bible," like it was some sort of acceptable compromise to not obeying. But as I got back out to do that, he was already on his way to the bus stop. Another missed opportunity.

But it didn't stop there. As I was pulling out of the parking lot, God gave me another chance. I saw this man at the bus stop and I heard God again, "Go give him a ride." But I kept driving. Like the biscuit story, God convicted me to the point of submission, and I turned around to go back to pick him up. But this time, God decided to teach me a lesson, as the man was no longer there waiting. In a three minute span, the bus must have come and picked him up.

God showed me something in that. My mom used to tell me growing up that obedience is "doing what you are told when you are told to do it." I would later learn that there is a third element, doing so with the right heart attitude (Philippians 2:14). But it is the immediacy of obedience that God pressed on me.

My 3 1/2 year old son has a frustrating habit. At the end of each day, before he goes to bed, we have him clean up his toys. It is always a battle. Sometimes it is outright tears and meltdown. But sometimes he shifts into bargaining mode. "But I don't have to pick up these blocks. I will just pick up my cars." (Declarative statements like that are his way of asking.) And when I tell him no, you really do have to do what I told you to do, the meltdown eventually follows.

One word the Bible used for "obedience" is hupakoƩ. It means "submission to what is heard." Do you dig in, whine and complain when God tells you to do something? Do you try to bargain with Him? From the moment you hear God tell you to do something, you have about 3 nanoseconds to submit to what you heard. If you don't, you are in a state of disobedience.

There are a lot of things my son does that bring a smile to my face. One of the chief among those is when I ask him to do something and he immediately says, "OK, Daddy", gets up, and obeys. In that obedience, that immediate submission to what he heard, I know he is learning a valuable lesson that will serve him well later on in life: When your Father says, "Go," your best response is an immediate "OK, Daddy."

You are not guaranteed multiple opportunities to obey. Like Peter's denial of Jesus, I disobeyed God multiple times in this encounter. When I finally did relent and sought to comply (compliance and obedience are not the same), God showed me that in my disobedience I missed an opportunity to be used by Him. I urge you not to make my mistake.

Today, if you hear His voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.
Hebrews 3:15

This is how we know that we love God’s children 
when we love God and obey His commands. 
For this is what love for God is: to keep His commands.
1 John 5:2-3