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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Obedience Isn't Optional

Have you ever seen a child clap his hands over his ears when he doesn’t want to listen? Joey, my five-year old son, often tries this trick. He’s convinced that if he covers his ears tightly enough he won’t have to obey the command he’s missing. Sometimes he even hums loudly to make sure he’s drowning me out.

When this happens, I bend down, peer into Joey’s eyes, and pry his tiny hands off his ears. I remind him that obedience isn’t optional. I reinforce my expectations. And then I help him follow through.

If I’m not careful, I can mimic my five-year old. I can easily cover my ears when the Holy Spirit whispers to my soul. But He nudges me with the same truth I teach Joey: obedience isn’t optional.

It was the last morning of the She Speaks conference, and as you know from my previous posts Brokenhearted- Part 2, Seemingly Insignificant, Friends are Friends Forever, On Holy Ground, and Carving a New Niche, it had been quite a weekend. As the keyboard echoed a beautiful melody and Cheri Keaggy’s voice reverberated through the conference ballroom in a hymn of praise, the Lord stirred my spirit.

“Kneel down, put your face to the ground, and worship Me,” He said. My flesh groaned and I thought, “Lord, there are 600 women in this room. They’re all gonna think I’m weird.” But I knew what I had heard. So I got down on my face before God and humbled my prideful flesh.

In the stillness of surrender, the Lord spoke again. “When you return to Oxford, you’re going to tell Eric what I’ve done in your life this weekend. Then you need to ask his permission to testify about how I’ve miraculously moved and tell him you feel led to corporately repent in front of the entire congregation.”

Corporately repent? In front of 1000 people?

With my face low to the ground, I thought I might vomit as I wrestled with the magnitude of God’s request. Yet I knew I had to obey, and I made a vow to the Lord that if Pastor Eric allowed me to speak I would do exactly what He’d asked of me.

As our time of worship drew to a close, the She Speaks staff invited us to come and lay our prayer requests at the foot of one of the two wooden crosses stationed at each end of the ballroom and pick up a promise from God’s Word from the hundreds waiting for us there.

When I laid my request down at the foot of the cross and picked up my promise, hot tears began streaming down my face. The verse read, “If you [really] love Me, you will keep (obey) My commands. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever.” John 14:15-16, Amplified Version

Immediately I knew what the Lord had spoken over my life moments earlier would indeed come to pass.That’s because love is tied to obedience, and you can’t love God and refuse to obey Him.

As I sat in the hotel lobby a few hours later waiting to catch my shuttle to the airport, the Lord arranged an appointment with Linda Hicks, another conference attendee. Linda was on the speaker’s track, and when she said she had a passion for teaching women the importance of obedience, I knew the Lord was about to divinely deliver another message.

“My husband had given me biblical grounds for divorce,” Linda began. “Every Saturday we met for counseling with our pastor and then had breakfast together. But this particular Saturday was different. During breakfast, the Lord said to me, ‘Linda, it’s time to take him home.’ And I thought, ‘No Lord! I can’t take him home. I’m not ready! I haven’t gotten over this.’ And the Lord said again, ‘Linda, today is the day. You must take him home!’ ” So Linda obeyed.

Linda continued, “That night, after some wonderful horizontal fellowship, I lay in my husband’s arms, my head resting against his sweaty chest as I listened to his heart pounding. He looked at me intently and said, ‘Linda, thank you. I love you so much.’ And those were the last words he ever spoke to me. He had a massive heart attack and died.”

Once again hot tears stung my eyes as I sat speechless in the oversized lounge chair next to Linda. God chose to use her in my life to make sure I didn’t wonder if I’d heard Him clearly that morning.

Needless to say, I obeyed God. And even though I thought I might be sick to my stomach as I approached the pulpit the following Sunday, I boldly proclaimed the truth God had so clearly spoken over my life.

Precious sister, is God asking for obedience in a particular area of your life? If so, I pray that you’ll fall on your face in sweet surrender to the One who can help you walk in obedience despite all of your fears and insecurities.

14 comments:

suzieh said...

Stephanie,
God has been speaking to me as well about obedience. We taught our kids that obedience is "doing what God says, when he says to do it and with the right heart attitude. That has been God's lesson to me as well. Thanks for the word.

meurrier said...

Thanks, Steph...

God has reminded me of this so many times... I always tell Myla, "Obey quickly" (wonder where I heard that???). Ha! Anyways, everytime I say that to her, I hear the Lord whisper, "Do you always obey me quickly?" Talk about humbling!

Love you girl! Oh, and the blog looks AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!

Meredith

Jennifer said...

I just love your heart and who you are. Thank you for your vulnerability and Godly influence!

Anonymous said...

Sitting in Bob Evans, on the road to Atlanta for Catalyst conference. Just read this. Blinking back tears. I have treated obedience like it was a buffet. Choice about how much and which ones. Oh, how many "next words" from the Lord have I missed?

Tracey Wozniak

Anonymous said...

What an amazing post! I'm going to share it with my Bible Study next week, since we are studying One in a Million which is going to involve lots of hard choices. I appreciate your willingness to share.

Olga Griffin

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing your story.

Donna Rayburn

Carrie Turansky said...

Hi Stephanie, thank you for sharing from your heart! What a powerful message! We've always taught our kids that obedience is doing what's expected - right away - with a good attitude. Those are good words of advice for anyone any age. You've reminded me to follow them today!
Blessings,
Carrie

Stephanie said...

Wow, thank you all for the comments! They mean so much to me! :) Suzie, yes- it is all about the "heart!" Our attitude is crucial. Meredith, I don't always obey quickly either, but that is my heart's desire. Let's work on it together! Jennifer, I love your heart too! Tracey, God is the redeemer of time. He has so much more to speak to you, and I know you'll be listening. Rest in this truth. Olga, I hope this story blesses your Bible study as you all seek to be One in a Million. I know I want to be the One in a Million that lives a Promised Land experience on this Earth. It's what we were created for. Carrie, obeying right away is critical. When we wait, obedience becomes more and more difficult. Thanks for your input.

Anonymous said...

Great post on obedience Stephanie and your blog looks AWESOME!! Bring it Girl!! Love you, Hester

Amy said...

Beautiful post from the heart of a beautiful woman. It's a treasure knowing you, friend!

Stephanie Garneau said...

Thank you Amy! I love your beautiful heart as well. I'm truly grateful God chose to intersect our paths at She Speaks and Encouragement Extreme. I hope He decides to do it again soon!

Thinking of you tonight as I prepare to teach on the older Titus 2 woman. I miss you and wish you lived closer so we could share our thoughts over coffee! :)

Linda said...

"The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me; and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I [too] will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to him. [I will let Myself be clearly seen by him and make Myself real to him.]" John 14:21 Ampl.

Obedience is proof of our love. Each time we obey, our intimacy with Him grows. Even when we don't want to obey (because of some fleshly perspective), He will do what Stephanie does for her 5 year old son, Joey. He will help us "follow through". I had no intentions of asking my husband to come home that day. I wasn't through manipulating and still had a few trump cards to play while I was in my "biblical rights" position! Only 2 words ... "But Lord" was all He let me say before it became apparent Who was in control. My reluctant heart obeyed. I asked my husband to come home that very day and tears of joy went from his cheeks to mine. Immediately, the Lord changed my heart and I was transformed into a forgiving, loving wife who adored her husband as if it was the first day of our honeymoon. Oh, how sweet our reunion was! And what a glorious gift for the Lord to give both of us. My husband had repented and was right with the Lord and only one moment after our one-flesh relationship had been completely restored, in God's perfect timing, He took my Stevie home.

Sometimes, obedience can be a matter of life and death. Physically. But - always - it is a matter of life and death spiritually.

Linda Hicks

Barbara Magee said...

Thank you Stephanie, for sharing this wonderful testimony. It is a remindered that we must all obey Our Father and listen to him. Even when we discipline our children, we must remember ourselves are we following the ways the Lord has laid before us and following his instructions. Because if we cannot follow his instructions he has given us, then how can we expect our children to listen and obey us, if we cannot obey the Lord.

You have taught me a lot over the last 2 1/2 years and have taught me how to grow with the Lord and follow his instructions and for that I can say I am a better person. I am so happy to be a part of this Wonderful Ministry. Thank you.

Warren Baldwin said...

An excellent article that speaks very touchingly to the heart, for men or women. I think of some of the great prophets and spokesmen for God, like Moses, Jeremiah, and Isaiah, who all thought they could not speak for God because they weren't eloquent speakers or even b/c they had sin. Yet, God had something he wanted them to say. He required obedience, not perfection.

Isaiah did repent before he proclaimed. "Woe to me" he cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips ..." Then, God took away his sin (Isaiah 6:5-7). God wants our obedience. He'll take care of the rest.

Good post. wb

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