Thursday, February 2, 2012

Joy Through Obedience

"My happy place is my obedient place." --Beth Moore 

From my own personal experience, I know that this statement is true.  To be honest, I've had to learn that truth the hard experiencing its opposite.  Too many times I have been disobedient, stubbornly insisting on my own way and refusing to bend my knee, and the end result of that has always, always, always been pain, brokenness, emptiness, dissatisfaction and extreme unhappiness, even depression.  

Praise be to God...He never gave up on me, but gently whispered to me of a better way.  He blessed my first baby steps of obedience by showering me in a flood of "good and perfect gifts!"

One night in particular stands out in my memory.  I had promised my husband a massage when we went to bed that night, but we had gotten into a quarrel that evening.  I don't remember the impetus for the argument or the exact words spoken (or more likely, knowing us at the time, not "spoken" but rather "hurled like weapons").  I do remember the feeling of separation as we lay side by side in bed that night.  It was more than a "wedge" between us; it was a "Grand Canyon" of hurt feelings! 

Into my indignant, self-righteous heart, Jesus whispered, "Give him the massage."

"No way!  Not until he apologizes!  Did you hear what he SAID to me, God?!?!"

"Give him the massage."

I lay in that bed arguing with Jesus for a long time.  No matter what I said, He kept gently insisting, "Give him the massage."  I knew I had a choice to make.  I didn't have to obey!  I knew Jesus wouldn't take over my brain and nervous system, seize control of my muscular system, and make "massage giving" an involuntary act like breathing!  The age-old choice presented to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 30 was presented to me:  Choose.  God's way or my way.  Blessing or curse. Life or death.  The choice lay with me.  

Finally, I surrendered my will to His.  The ONLY reason I reached out to touch my husband that night was my love for my Savior.  NOTHING in me wanted to serve my husband, but my love for Jesus ultimately compelled me to the place of obedience.

The instant I touched my husband, I was flooded with divine love for him.  Believe me....I know my heart, and that kind of love does NOT come from me.  My heart in that moment was anything BUT loving, but because of my obedience, God gave me the privilege of experiencing the Father's Heart.  Sinful, selfish me became a conduit of GOD'S LOVE for my husband.  What a privilege it was!  There are no words capable of describing the love of the Father!  (It was warm and real and total and substantial and absolute and bottomless and safe, so thick it's almost palpable, so overwhelming nothing else matters.  I recognized that love as the treasure my heart has always longed for.)

My husband received the massage that night, but I was the one who was TRULY  blessed!  Joy?  Yes!  Awed by grace?  Yes!  Wrecked by His love?  Yes!  So, so grateful?  Yes, yes, yes!

And I could have missed it. I could have missed it so easily.  I almost did.  Clinging to my rights, my way, my feelings, my will, ME, ME, ME!  I can't base my decisions on ME because my thinking is distorted;  I have those "deformed desires" James talks about that carry within them the seeds of self-destruction.    Yes, "there is a way that seems right to a woman but the end is death."  I've experienced too many deaths in my life!  I need God's wisdom, desperately.  Only by obeying His directions do I find JOY and so much more... the life that is truly life!

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