Open Your Bible
Isaiah 58:11, John 10:1-15, John 14:15-26, Acts 16:6-10, Galatians 5:25, James 1:5-6
In my early years with Jesus, the idea of obedience felt restrictive, like a wool sweater that just feels too scratchy to wear. My will won out, and I let fear of unknown outcomes stop me from saying “yes” to God. As I’ve continued to walk with Jesus, He’s shown me that by asking for my obedience, He isn’t trying to hold me back from the good life, but guide me straight into the heart of it.
Jesus said the one who keeps His commands loves Him (John 14:21). When we look at Scripture, we find general instructions for how to keep these commands, but it can take guidance to apply these to individual situations. And so God does not leave us to ourselves; He gives us the Holy Spirit as a trustworthy guide (v.26) and a community of believers to walk alongside us.
One habit I’ve formed in my own practice of obedience is journaling. Some days, the path of obedience is clear: Forgive her. Confess this sin. But when I find myself on the verge of a decision that doesn’t seem to have a clear direction given in Scripture, I write about it to seek the Lord’s will. You could call it a glorified pros-and-cons list. But there’s something powerful about the process of naming things, of getting them outside the confines of your head, that God uses to bring clarity and conviction.
First, I pray over whatever I’ve written and then call up one to two people whose counsel has proven trustworthy. This might be a lifelong friend or mentor, maybe a leader in my church community. Whoever it is, they know me and live their own lives open-heartedly before the Lord. After sitting with this counsel for an hour, a week, or even a year, I wait for the peace of the Holy Spirit, which confirms agreement with the advice, and then act. Every now and then, the situation kicks me in the pants and requires me to act before I know for certain where God is leading. The good news? When our heart is to obey, He’s faithful to redirect our steps if needed.
If I’m honest, saying “yes” to God can be hard. Even though I love Him and want to keep His commands, there are days when I don’t follow Him well; I walk the other way when sin looks more enticing than the familiar, scratchy-sweater feeling of shedding my sin and becoming new in Christ. (I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.) Galatians says, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). This doesn’t mean obedience gets easier with time, but it does get harder to ignore the voice of our trusted friend and Savior, Jesus.
Obedience sets us free. It brings peace. Our reward is the satisfaction of knowing we are walking in God’s will. As you practice obedience, pray for the Spirit of the Lord to guide you. To echo the prophet Isaiah’s words, “The LORD will always lead you, satisfy you in a parched land, and strengthen your bones” (Isaiah 58:11).