God taught me a lesson recently. An incredibly powerful, humbling, and eye-opening lesson. And as he often does, he used my 3 year old to do it.
I don’t remember exactly what I had asked Emmie (our wonderfully stubborn and strong-willed 3 year old, who people say acts just like me-although I don’t see it) to do, but whatever it is-she didn’t want to do it. I patiently yet firmly stood my ground and repeated the instructions (a few times) and finally, she obeyed. Granted-she gave me her angriest little toddler face as she turned around and stomped her feet as loudly as she could the whole way. But point is, she obeyed.
Last year, I obeyed God a lot. It was a year of building trust for me (see “Hello 2016” post) and because I knew God was taking me on a journey of trusting him, I determined in my heart to obey him-whatever he told me to do, regardless of how crazy or illogical it seemed, or how much I didn’t actually want to do it. I didn’t always hit the mark, but I sure tried. On some level, I did truly want to trust and obey God.
This year, God is taking me on a journey of intimacy. I feel like he spoke to my heart that this is an area he wants to grow and stretch me in. But I wasn’t quite sure why.
“Because”, he said, “intimacy leads to obedience.”
Well I thought we covered that last year! I DID obey you Lord! Most of the time. What exactly is it you want me to do?
“I want you to obey me-joyfully”, God said.
And then he reminded me of the Emmie incident a few days prior, and he began speaking to my heart (lovingly of course, as always), about how-while I did obey him last year-I also gave a lot of “angry faces”. I stomped a lot. I begrudgingly obeyed. I didn’t always want to obey, but I did it anyway.
This year, God said to me, I want to build a relationship with you that is centered around peace and not just grumpy obedience.
Trust leads to obedience. But walking in a close and intimate relationship with God leads to WILLING and JOYFUL obedience. That’s what God has laid on my heart this year-to walk in joyful obedience. (For some people this may be a quick and easy lesson, for me-it takes years. My daughter may be more like me than I originally thought…)
So to kick off the year, God told me to take a journey through the Old Testament. (And I have to confess, this was EPIC failure #1 when it comes to “joyful obedience.” Yup-I’m off to a GREAT start.) I love God’s word. ALL of God’s word. It has such beauty and value in its entirety, its just that if I had to choose what I wanted to read-it wouldn’t necessarily be the Old Testament. However-I obeyed, and it didn’t take long before my cringing obedience turned to joy!
Everything God wanted to show me about intimacy and obedience-right there in the first few chapters of Genesis, in the story of Noah.
Noah was a man who “walked in close fellowship with God.” (Genesis 6:9) Then, God puts a huge ask on Noah’s life. From Genesis 6:14-21, God lays out his plan. Build this boat. This BIG boat. Build it with these materials, build it with these dimensions. Bring animals. Bring enough food to feed everyone. Very specific and detailed instructions, and what does Noah do? He “did everything exactly as God had commanded him.” (Genesis 6:22). I had to ask myself- how often do I do everything exactly as God asks me to?
No shortcuts. No arguments. No questions. No changes to the plan because he thought he knew better than God. Just perfect obedience-doing everything exactly as God has commanded. And when we see the end result of this chapter, perfect obedience, I believe it was only possible because of how Noah STARTED- by walking in close fellowship with God.
Intimacy leads to obedience. Walking in close fellowship with God brings our hearts to a place that says “yes Lord”, no matter what the ask is. I believe God still has big plans for his people! Big callings, big opportunities, not to mention a GREAT commission.
If we are going to live like Noah, doing everything exactly as God tells us to-even when it doesn’t make sense, even when it may be hard, even when others are critical, even when we think we know a better way, even when we just plain ‘ol don’t want to-I believe that it all starts with intimacy. A life spent walking, every day, in close fellowship with God.
When our first desire is to be close to the Father’s heart, everything else flows from that place. When we’re walking in intimacy with God, we hear his voice. And from intimacy, obedience flows. Willing, joyful, peaceful obedience.
And that’s not all! There’s even more incredible truth in Noah’s story, but let’s take it one step at a time. One intimate step at a time, walking in close fellowship with God.