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Trust and Obey

The sounds of certain words as we hear them from some authoritative voice in our life can reverberate in our minds and hearts.  Trust.  Obey.  How do these words hit your ears?  Well, I think it depends.  Our lives, our circumstances, our stories--these are some of the pieces that shape our ideas and what we learn about trust and obedience, more from a cultural perspective, but not always in the way that God intended.  One of the first lessons in trust and obedience came from Adam and Eve in the garden.  We know from this experience and some of our own that disobedience has consequences.  How many times did you have to be told not to do something before you realized (after you did it) that it was wrong and there was some form of consequence that ensued.  

Anyone with a toddler or a teenager right now is in the thick of this.  I remember!  It didn't just take one horrible stomach ache to keep me away from eating a whole box of Junior Mints in the theater.  They're so good!  Our world doesn't practice obedience the way God intended, so how much more difficult is it for us?  Look at the popular potato chip brand Pringles with that catchy slogan, "When you pop, you can't stop"--meaning you can't eat just one.  You can think of others, I'm sure.  Self indulgence sells us an identity that keeps us enslaved to things, people, places, and ideas that are outside of God's plan and purpose for our lives.  I am by no means saying that your favorite snack chips are sinful, no!  The former marketer in me just can't help but point out our calculated consumer culture.

Jesus helps us understand biblical trust and obedience.  As he was tempted in the desert over and over again by the devil (Matthew 4:1-11) Jesus felt every bit of hunger, discomfort, and lack but he did not give in.  He replied each time with the word of God.  He obeyed God.  Jesus' obedience is how we know his love for us and for God.  

Jesus' love is written in obedience.  He has given us commands that turn that love toward God and toward one another (John 15:12).  A few years ago I lost my job for the second time.  It threw me into a whirlwind of anxiety and fear.  My daughter was going off to college, relationships were strained, I found myself randomly crying in the laundry room as I folded clothes.  I would roll out of bed late, take my son to school, come home and lay back in bed.  I showered just before everyone would return home so no one knew I had been like that all day.  A little makeup and curls in your hair and everyone just thinks you've got it all together.  I made the decision to seek professional help and see a counselor.  It was there that my counselor kept pointing me back to God's word, reminding me that it was there that my freedom lied.  It was in my surrender.  I was finally learning what it meant to trust God in the process.  I was studying the gospel of John and a word jumped right off the page at me--abide; to remain.  

Jesus urges us to remain in him (John 15:4).  As he is telling the disciples who he is, he was also urging them to be completely reliant on him so that they would be able to do the things he had intended for them to do.  We remain close to Jesus when we spend time with the Lord in his Word and when we pray.  We remain close to Jesus as we fellowship and worship with others, as we pray and seek to know him more.  

Then we practice giving it all away for the sake of others.  That is where trusting and obeying God took on new meaning for me; when it meant extending it to a difficult ex-husband, when it meant saying I was sorry for what I did, when it meant holding my tongue when I knew my words would take down my enemy.  There's a family that needs a blessing, a prisoner that needs to know he is not the sum of his mistakes, a widow that needs to know she is not alone, someone needs to know you forgive them even if it still hurts.  We come back and choose this each day as the next right step in practicing love for God and love for others.  

In 1 Kings 17, God told Elijah to leave Cherith during a terrible famine, go to a town full of widows and look for just one.  God tells Elijah to ask this woman for something to eat.  He obeyed God and found the woman he was looking for.  He did not know this woman was near death and was looking for sticks to build a fire and cook the last of what she had for her son.  In obedience, she said yes but also let  him know that they would surely die.  Elijah, gave her God's word that she would in fact have food to fill their bellies each and every day.  Both Elijah and the widow were given something they desperately needed regardless of their lack, because of their trust and obedience.  

Won't He do it?!  Let God surprise you.  A practice I have used is to begin each day asking myself how can I make someone else's day better?  Then, lift those words to the Lord.  He is faithful.

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