Obedience ~ My Path to Peace

For months now, God has been laying it on my heart to write about obedience. I would come up with new blog post ideas and He would tell me, “no, Jen, I want you to write about obedience”. It was so annoying! He kept on me over and over…
So, what did I choose to do? I ignored Him all together and did not write at all. Instead of doing what I was being commanded to do, I chose, time and time again to be DISobedient and not write about this topic, until now. As I sit and ask myself why it’s been such a difficult subject for me to dive into, I can only come up with one answer…being obedient is not always fun and let’s face it, I like fun! Just look at the definition and you’ll see what I mean: Obedience – “compliance with an order, request, or law or submission to another’s authority”. Seriously…that does not sound like much fun to me!
However, obedience has been something that we’ve been knocked over the head with over and over again since we were small children. How often, growing up, did you hear, “how many times do I have to tell you to _ (fill in the blank)?” We were told to share our toys, to clean up our rooms, to play nice with our siblings and, as the 5th Commandment says, Honor (Obey) your mother and father. You can’t argue with that one, it’s from the Big man upstairs!

Then, as we grew up, we learned to be obedient to teachers, police officers, to our elders and our bosses. Obedience has been a part of our lives from day one and it is something we just can’t get away from, so we might as well face it head on, embrace it and see what benefits it might have for us.

For so many years, being obedient was not one of my strongest attributes, my parents can definitely attest to that! I was a good kid overall, but I definitely broke a few rules from time to time, especially in my teenage years. As I grew older and more “mature”, I was much better with following rules and doing what was required of me from my bosses and other figures of authority. I reported to work on time, I did the tasks that I was asked to do and I was fairly successful in most of my duties. I was obedient to my doctor when I became pregnant (well, I may have not always eaten the way he recommended) but, overall, I followed his guidelines for healthy pregnancies. We may want to defy obedience at first, but as we have learned through all of the things that I have mentioned, is that when we follow the rules, it usually bodes well for us. We are rewarded one way or another. Whether it be a new toy because we behaved at school or a bonus for a job well done, or a healthy baby because we ate right, obedience can have it’s upsides!

Now, as I revisit why I think God has wanted me to write about this particular command, I realize it’s because I have a very personal story to share about a recent revelation about my spiritual growth and maturity and that not so fun word…obedience. I fought Him on writing about this because it means that I have to be really honest and vulnerable in order to help others see what it could mean for them to also be obedient to The Lord.
Matthew 7:13-14 says, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
This scripture is a bit daunting but it is absolutely my truth!

My marriage of 21 1/2 years has not always been one of sunshine and rose petals. NOT EVEN CLOSE! We met as teenagers, became the best of friends and subsequently got married in our early 20’s. Seemed like a good idea at the time. We truly loved each other but we definitely had zero clue on what it took to sustain a loving marriage in the sense that God intended for us. We liked to have FUN! We both worked very hard but we definitely made up for it on the weekends by playing hard too. We did this for several years and then we added kids into the mix and continued to do the same thing (smart move, huh?). Growing up Catholic, both of us still believed in God, had faith and prayed when it deemed necessary in our minds, like when we couldn’t pay a bill or when we were discussing divorce, but neither of us had a close and intimate relationship with Jesus. We went to church for baptisms, funerals and on the occasional Sunday if we got out of bed on time. We would even throw a couple of bucks in the offering basket as our “tithe”. HA!
God was NOT our priority and we were NOT being obedient.
As we suffered through many hardships in our marriage, we somehow continued to maintain our best friendship and by the grace of God (I now realize that), we stayed together. In the midst of serious turmoil, a lot of counseling and serious divorce discussions, our youngest son Gage was born and 11 months later, Kevin was offered a job in Texas! Wow! This is it! A fresh start, a way to escape our demons and begin again, it seemed perfect! I now know that we were being obedient by taking this huge leap of faith in moving across the country where we didn’t know a soul, but back then it was just our escape route to try and find “happiness”!

There are so many details and stories I could tell you in relation to our almost 12 years here in Texas, but I’ll sum it up with this. We were broke and made the very intelligent decision to join a country club {insert sarcasm}. We made a ton of friends, friends that I treasure to this day, but we continued our days of work hard and play hard. We continued to disrespect each other in our marriage and we began several years of counseling. We spent money we didn’t have and we valued material things, trips, places and events that should have never been considered. We were irresponsible in just about every sense of the word and things were not improving. We were taking that “broad road and wide gate” that is referenced in Matthew 7:13-14 and it was leading us to destruction. There were new names and new faces, but the problems did not change. In fact, they worsened at times. The biggest difference, though, was that we were in Texas! The Bible Belt! So, that meant that we visited many churches, there were so many to choose from, and we got involved and began a path of deeper faith mixed with hypocrisy. Not a great combination, yet a very popular one.

Eventually, Kevin and I hit rock bottom! We suffered for years financially, spiritually, maritally and even physically. We knew at that point, we would either implode or we could explode (in a good way)! We slowly but surely looked to Christ to save us from disaster. We found a church home that we could literally call HOME and we still do. We learned how to pray, how to rely on God and to have a relationship with Him. We learned that is all He has ever wanted from us.
We discovered that there were people around us that we could look to for guidance and hope instead of looking for the next best thing. We discovered that we truly loved each other and wanted to spend our lives together and we began to realize what being obedient to our Creator really meant. As I look back, I don’t think we became obedient intentionally to earn His rewards or gifts, it just kind of began to happen as we changed our hearts, our minds and our spirits. We became intentional about every aspect of our lives. As he kept saying to us, “how many times do I have to tell you to _“, we began to listen and our lives began to change. We learned that obedience is not just about walking in the church doors weekly or doing our nightly devotional with the kids or volunteering when it was convenient for us. We learned that life was not about things we could buy or places we could travel to, but it is about being with our family and building a strong and healthy relationship with our children. This obedience has strengthened every relationship in our home in every way even in the midst of conflict and it did not happen overnight!
We learned that obedience to Him is an every day, every moment beautifully gratifying experience, but it takes work. It’s the narrow road that is sometimes not so fun to take, but the rewards are endless.
Honestly, we have been truly blessed with Kevin’s employment and me being able to stay home with the kids and as they get older I get to focus on my ministry. God has allowed Kevin to use his talents and gifts to succeed in business. It’s quite ironic how we now have some sense of financial security after years of pretending that we already had it. We spent years trying to fix a marriage without putting God in the center of it and now, we can’t survive another anniversary without Him!
The transformation, though, lies in living intentionally for our Father. Please do not mistake what I’m saying about what it means to be obedient. Obedience does NOT mean that one day you pray and the next day you wake up with everything you’ve dreamed of and prayed for! God does not work that way! If He did, I’m pretty sure everyone would hop on board. However, it does bring a sense of peace and a spirit that begins to live within you that helps you to cope with whatever adversity is thrown your way.
Even after a year of health issues, pain, suffering and the toll it took on us as a family, I am experiencing a peace that I cannot begin to describe but I now know that it is due to my obedience to Him. This peace that now lives in my soul allows me to live joyfully in all circumstances and have true faith in what His plans are for me. I do not worry anymore about pleasing others and trying to be the life of the party, I try so hard not to worry about the teenage issues that we face with our children, I try not to worry about what curve balls might be thrown our way, because I live my life for an audience of one and my faith tells me that He will provide, protect and Love me through whatever adversities I will face.
We still have our trials, we still have setbacks, we still falter and fail regularly and that is why I hunger for Him every day of my life. I am not healed, I am not fixed…I am obedient and when I sin or suffer, I have faith that my Savior will take my hand and bring me back to Him as he faithfully has for my entire life.

“I am the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.” Isaiah 48:17-18