In my years of pondering what it means to be obedient, I always believed it meant doing whatever I was asked to do regardless of whether or not I understood it or wanted to do it – cleaning my room, eating my vegetables, being honest.
Recently, I’ve experienced a few life changing events and have concluded that, though that strict aspect of obedience is valid and necessary, it’s an incomplete definition.
As a child I spoke, thought, and was therefore instructed, as a child. Today as a grown woman I know better and the Lord teaches me differently. Over the years, the concept of being led by my heart as being a method He would use to direct my life is something that’s intrigued me. Does obedience take the path through the heart of desire, or must it travel strictly through the mind of reason?
Looking both ways before crossing the street is an example of deciding with the mind. A strict one-sided response for protection. The heart will comply whether it wants to or understands it or not. At least it better!
When it comes to everyday life decisions, I’ve concluded the route to obedience must travel both through the mind and the heart. The Lord places desires within us for His Kingdom purposes. How much more pleasant it is to obey when reason is wrapped, softened, and encouraged by desire. Indeed, my heart leaps at the prospect of this kind of obedience. I sense the essence of the loving, relational Father I’ve come to know.
Somewhere in between the desire and the execution of desire are gauntlet to run which test and prove whether those desires are God-placed or us-placed, and whether we must be strictly obedient. These experiences of living life rub up against the knowledge of the Word of God, serving to sharpen our reason, and soften and encourage our hearts. If we fully embrace these life experiences, they will increase our discernment and wisdom.
Personally, when I’m faced with a life decision, one gauntlet I must run is that of change. I don’t do well with changes, especially big ones. It’s almost always a long journey through paralyzing emotions before I emerge with enough courage to embrace the big new thing.
On the opposite end of that hesitation is impulsiveness. Sometimes I’ll decide too quickly without checking my balance of reason and desire, requiring me to make sometimes difficult corrections. Very inconvenient. These are my processes. With this understanding, I learn and grow each day, submitting to God as best I can.
It’s a sign of maturity to know the desire of our hearts, which are ours and which are His. It is also a great responsibility, a sign of maturity, wisdom, and faith, as we consider those desires to allow Him to lead us by them.
Help me, Father, to know the desires of my heart, which are mine and which are Yours. Help me to be brave and full of faith when it’s time to step out, and to be still and listening when it’s not. And grant me the discernment to know which is which. For Your name’s sake and for Your Kingdom. Amen.