A DOGGONE LESSON IN OBEDIENCE
Leave it to God – and the dogs – to give me yet another lesson in walking by faith. “Red, Jake, time to come inside,” I called out. “Elijah, let’s go. Inside,” I added. Now I knew what to expect. Red would come fairly quickly. Jake has limited hearing, so he has a bit of an excuse for delayed obedience. Elijah? Elijah has great hearing – but believes strongly in practicing “delayed” obedience.
Surprise of all surprises, Elijah came along at a fairly brisk pace – for Elijah anyway. Given that most of the 18 Walk by Faith doggies in my care exhibit a wide variety of obedience levels (thanks in part to a lack of training on my part), I am well versed in who is obedient – and who is not. I am also well aware of who likes to obey on time – and who prefers to take his or her time. I also am all too familiar with who likes to pick and choose if, and when, he or she is “in the mood” to obey.
Elijah? Well, his preferred response would have been to flip on his back and politely request a belly rub in response to being told to come inside. But today he was pretty swift. Now if you think his obedience came out of a heart full of “I aim to please,” think again. So what was up? Ah, yeah, thunder. Oh, yes, storm. And as soon as I understood the catalyst for Elijah’s quicker response, I got a big whopping dose of my faith lesson.
See, Elijah’s decision to obey without a big delay was more than likely a result of his desire to GET INSIDE before the rain. After all, he knows good and well I have no plans to hold umbrellas over my doggies that don’t like to get their hairdo’s tampered with by a little wet.
Suffice it to say, Elijah probably was more interested in avoiding the consequences of not obeying me than he was concerned with pleasing me. Sound familiar? No, I’m not asking if you have dogs that obey in this manner – or with this motive, or for this purpose. I am inquiring whether YOUR OWN level of obedience might be Elijah-style. What exactly do I mean?
Well, let me put it simply. I think obedience tends to fall into two main categories. Either I OBEY THE LORD because I love Him and He wants me to demonstrate my love for Him with obedience, OR I OBEY THE LORD because I don’t like the consequences of not obeying Him.
Let me give you an example. I am a recovered alcoholic. By God’s grace, and His grace alone, in February I celebrated 20 years of sobriety. Praise the Lord! When I stopped drinking, I did NOT stop drinking because I knew the Lord, loved the Lord, and wanted to obey the Lord. I stopped drinking because I wanted something for ME. Let’s just say, I heard the thunder. I saw the lightening. I felt the storm. And I didn’t much like it. So off I went to the dry land – no pun intended – of sobriety.
Another example? Anorexia. I have struggled with an eating disorder on and off for DECADES. Many times, I tried to put the eating disorder behind me because I couldn’t stand the consequences of the eating disorder. I couldn’t stand the toll anorexia took on my life, including the sickness, the emergency rooms, the hospitals, etc.
But, over time, the more I fell in love with the Lord and studied the Bible, I wanted desperately to PLEASE THE LORD by OBEYING HIM because I LOVE HIM. The more intimate I became with the Lord, the more I desired to do what is right in His eyes.
Do you see the difference? Instead of obeying the Lord because I wanted to run from the thunder, the lightening, and the rain, I came to want to obey the Lord because of who He is and my love for Him. Please don’t get me wrong. I hate the consequences of disobedience. I don’t want to stand outside in the middle of a thunderstorm any more than my dog Elijah does.
But my desire to obey now comes from one motive that is stronger than anything else – my love for the One calling me inside to shelter me from the storm.
Now how is that for a doggone lesson in obedience?
“Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.” ” John 14:23 NLT
“Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” John 14:23 KJV
“And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.” Isaiah 4:6 KJV
Please, Father, draw people through this devotional, draw them through this ministry, draw them through my life, draw them, draw them, draw them. Draw people in from the storm, into your shelter. Draw them, Lord, in Jesus’ name, Amen.