I know, I just heard my entire audience log off. Seriously, I once heard a popular minister say their sermons on this topic were not only their least popular, but least attended as well. And that alone should tell you something.
Seriously, the topic comes about based on my current Bible reading. It’s the final instructions Moses gave the Israelites before they conquered the Promised Land. Over and over, he exhorts them to follow God’s commands and to be obedient to the Lord’s leading. Well, if you’ve read the Bible, then you know exactly how that goes – straight into a downward spiral to 70 years of Babylonian captivity. It seems that obedience is an issue that people struggle with. All people. All throughout history. In all circumstances. None of us are exempt. Let’s face it – you know you feel that you have a right to master your own fate, and that nobody is “the boss of you.”
Ironically, a life of peace is beyond our grasp unless we are obedient. I won’t ask you to admit this to anybody out loud, but for just a moment, be brutally honest with yourself: how many times have you known, deep down inside, that you should do something, but didn’t do it – and then came to regret it later? Or worse yet, you knew you weren’t supposed to do something and God was screaming “NO!!!” so loud that everybody around you heard it and warned you off the path, but you stubbornly pursued it, straight into disaster? You know you’ve done it. We’ve all done it. It’s a big source of the one thing we say we don’t want in life – regret. And yet, we still ignore the Holy Spirit within us trying to keep us on the right path, because WE want to make the decisions. WE want to steer this ship and take it where WE want to go, whether we have any business there or not.
I think we’re all familiar with the saying “I’d rather be free in hell than a slave in Heaven,” but people with this attitude (and yes, it’s an attitude that our actions say if our words do not) don’t fully grasp the horror they’re embracing. Our every idea of freedom is skewed. We don’t fully realize what it means, because only God is free. The rest of His creation is bound one way or another, and our freedom is limited to choosing which way it’s going to be. Simply stated, there’s nowhere else to go. We’re free to choose whether to remain His, but we aren’t free to choose to BE Him. That throne is already taken, and He isn’t stepping aside to hand it to any mortal. So our freedom is limited to a very simple choice: to belong to Him and obey His will for our lives, or to break free of Him and live in the consequences of our choices.
We don’t like this. We want to believe we’re beholden to no one, but in the end we are responsible for our actions and where they lead. You can have your way, but you have to work to stay there, and do it without Holy protection of an unordained purpose. Or you can have God’s way and live under His protection, knowing that you can weather the storms because He’s got you. Some don’t mind this. They’re perfectly OK with struggling their whole life if it means that they have control of their life – but deep down, they’re miserable from constant struggles and pains they can’t rise above because they can’t do it alone and have forsaken the only One that can help them rise above to a new place they couldn’t have imagined. It reminds me of what Castiel asked Dean on Supernatural several years ago: “Do you want freedom, or do you want peace?” You can’t have it both ways. If you want freedom, you have to constantly work and struggle to keep people and circumstances from intruding on your will. If you want peace, you must be obedient to the Lord: obey His commands, and following the prompting of the Holy Spirit in your life in every way. This is a place where there’s no sitting on the fence. You’re obedient or you aren’t – and the rest of it follows from there.
We don’t like this. Just like the Israelites, we’re stiff necked people. Hard headed and hard hearted, and yet, Jesus still came. He still lived and loved and walked amongst us and chose to die for us. And to me, that’s the greatest demonstration of love of all – and the greatest mystery of the universe!
It’s amazing, really, that the key to happiness is so simple, and yet so hard to do. Pride really is a leech that sucks the life out of us.
That’s all today. Take care, and have a good rest of the week.