In pursuing my “One Word” (for both this year and last)—CLOSER—I’ve arrived at the O-for-Obey. A concept so easy to get stuck on…

“Hurry, hurry!” I urged, “Get in quick—and shut the door fast!”

Instead she froze, one little foot over the threshold, one small hand holding the door wide, eyes gazing at me, mouth gaping—while swarming mosquitoes danced their merry way inside.

Her three-foot-something frame stood statue-still, but you could tell, her mind was at work: considering… weighing… deciding… Instead of obeying!

Maybe she hadn’t spent enough time with Gramma? Obviously, she didn’t trust my counsel enough to just follow it… quick like a bunny! Just as I said! And that boils down to… she didn’t trust me.

When the instructions come from a human, such hesitation can be wise, especially with the ethically questionable. I see too many professed Christians who want some mortal-on-a-pedestal to tell them what to think, believe, and do, down to which shoes to wear on Tuesdays.

But why do we hesitate so to obey God? I mean clear-cut instructions He gives in His word. Why do we too often sit around deciding whether to obey Him or not—or debating whether He really meant what He said—instead of just following it? Ultimately, isn’t it because we. don’t. trust. Him? Don’t trust His wisdom, His counsel?

Classic scripture examples come to mind…

The Israelites balked at crossing Jordan and taking the land, as God had commanded… because those people on the other side were mighty big and scary… (Numbers 13,14).

Saul jumped ahead when, in respect for God and His commandments, He was to wait till Samuel showed up to consecrate the meat before it was offered up. He feared losing his following, and… disobeyed (1 Sa 13:7-14).

We fear. People—or loss: of our following… or income… or possessions… or positions… or security… or esteem… whatever. Instead of God. Or we just don’t think He has the best wisdom on the subject. And so we don’t always do. as. He. says.

On the other hand, if we trust Him, that trust(/faith) will manifest itself in… yes, obedience. Isn’t that exactly what James 2:17-18 means?

Look at the “Hall of Faith” chapter, Hebrews 11. Look at Abel (Heb 11:4), Noah (Heb 11:7), Abraham (Heb 11:8,17-19)… Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon… and so on. How do we know they had faith (i.e., trust in God)? Because they did what He said even when worldly wisdom pronounced it foolish.

How do I grow in obedience?

1) Pay attention to what He says. “He who has ears, let him hear!” 

2) Then, just. obey. it. Whether He says to act or not act.

But what about when fear or doubt (or selfish self!) takes over? How do I overcome them? Maybe I can’t, in myself. But through Him I can do all things He desires…

That takes me back to the C and the L in CLOSER: Call on Him, and Look to Him—and at Him. When I really see all He is, why should I not trust Him? 

Maybe I haven’t spent enough time with Him? Maybe I’ve been relying on myself or other people for my cues (or equipping), so His instruction seems just foolish (or impossible)?

Trust-and-obey. Almost a compound word. Trust in Him manifests itself in obedience to Him. Disobedience means I’m not trusting Him. “Oh for grace to trust [-and-obey] Him more!”

More in later posts on…

who we can trust — and not trust

ways to strengthen our trust in God

why intimacy with God requires obedience.


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8 thoughts on ““Trust and Obey”—Or is that Redundant?

  1. Oh, how this strikes a chord in me. I am glad you emphasized obedience to God. Obedience to authority does not necessarily equate obedience to God. Although that is what some authority figures would have us believe. It’s another thin line, isn’t it? I look forward to reading what you write about who to trust. Good thoughts here!

  2. Yes, Tereasa. I was thinking of you as soon as I wrote that mortal-on-a-pedestal paragraph. I was going to leave that point till the next post in the series, but after reading the following post by Mrs. P. at “By This Still Hearth,” I really thought I *had to* include it here. I think you might like to read what she wrote at
    Sad to say, it isn’t just the authority figures that would have us believe that. Many of those who end up falling under their sway think that way, too, and magnify the problem. (As joanne says…)

  3. PS to Tereasa: be sure to read her reply in the comments afterwards, too. ~S

  4. Trust – so important, and so easy for me to think I have it when I really don’t – or at least, don’t have as much as I should. He’s been teaching me a lot about trust and obedience these past weeks. This post is no exception. Thank you for sharing, friend!

  5. Hi again Mary,
    There’s so much to confuse and knock down our trust. People who ought to reflect Him instead portray a picture of unreliability and even deceit, which we can unconsciously incorporate into how we see Him. I wonder if we don’t develop trust in Him, step by step, and grow in it, rather that just “have” it or not have it. Although, Jesus did say, “If you *have* faith [even as small] as a mustard seed…” you’re on the way to seeing mighty things, like mountains moved.

    I think of Ephesians 2:8, and though I know the grammar indicates that grace is the gift of God it’s referring to, I am firmly convinced that any faith I have is a gift from Him, too, that without His intervention, I wouldn’t have any Christian belief. That’s why I pray so often (and have right from day one), “I believe, help Thou my unbelief!” And perhaps we should also ask as the Disciples did, “Increase our faith!” (As you can gather, I’ve been doing some pondering about this myself.)

  6. The flesh gets in the way. We rely so heavily on the gifts of our senses that it causes us to bury the best sense He gave us; Him. I think most things in life come down to fear. We fear and try to control the world with our flesh instead of relying on God who controls His cosmos. When we fear what it is He controls, we become idol respecters or worshippers. To fear is to revere. We just need to be constantly reminded in our fallen state. Thanks for the reminder today.

  7. Hi Floyd,
    Wow, what good insights! Thanks for adding them to the discussion.

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