Obedience = Love

The setting: My 5th grade classroom just outside Guatemala City
The context: Online school
The problem: Yet again, over half the class did not complete an assignment correctly.
Why? Because they didn’t bother to read the directions.
They glided right over them, did what they thought was correct and clicked “Turn in.”

After opening my sixth incomplete assignment, I buried my head in my hands and moaned, “Why can’t they just follow instructions???” Then I looked at my coworker and said,
“I just want to say to them, ‘If you love me at all, please follow the directions!’”

And just like that, conviction struck.
Deeply.
Swiftly.
“To the dividing of bone from sinew” as the writer of Hebrews put it.
The sharp, two-edged sword of the Word of God pierced my heart.
As the Man with the pierced hands and feet said,
“Exactly, Kathy. If you love Me at all, please follow My directions!”

Oh, how often I do what my students do!
I glance at the assignment, also known as the Word of God, and decide I know what is best.
And then I do it.
Not what is says – but what I want it to say.
What I am comfortable with it saying.
Rewriting the Word of God so that it becomes the Gospel According to Kathy.

And often what I manage to do is partially correct – but not totally.
Which makes it completely wrong.

I may have the right actions, but the wrong heart.
Or I may say the right words but to the wrong people.
I may give a half-hearted attempt to follow the Word but I am not trusting Him with ALL my heart.
Or I say I trust Him – but I lean on my understanding of the situation, my view of the world.

No matter how you shake it, I blow the assignment when I don’t simply obey the words of the Master.

He says, “Be kind and tenderhearted.”
I say, “But they aren’t being kind.”

He says, “Consider others before yourself.”
I say, “But won’t that make me a doormat?”

He says, “Forgive everyone.”
I say, “OK, everyone but them, right?”

He says, “Love everyone.”
I say, “OK, everyone but them, right?”

He says, “Give as freely as I have given to you.”
I say, “But I have to take care of myself, right?”

He says, “Do not worry.”
I say, “OK, I won’t be worried. I’ll just be concerned, OK?”

He says, “Tell the world that I love them.”
I say, “When it is safe, I will.”

He says, “Count it all joy when you face trials of various kinds.”
I say, “OK, I will praise You after You solve the trials of various kinds.”

Tweaking His directions to make them easier for me to do.
Completely forgetting that, if it is something He has called me to do, HE will give me the power to do it.
ALL of it. As written. Because He said so. End of discussion.

Obedience equals love.

That’s what Jesus told the disciples in John 15.
“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.”

To my great sorrow, I can easily picture Him putting His head in nail-scarred hands far too often and saying, “Oh, Kathy. If you love Me, you’ll follow My directions.”

Thank goodness His mercies are new every morning!
And that His love for me is not predicated on my obedience but rather His heart.
He doesn’t love me any less when I disobey.
But I am saying, “I love me more than You” when I do.

May I do a better job with obedience today than I did yesterday.
May every choice I make today shout, “I love You, Lord!”
May my obedience be even more consistent tomorrow.

And may the same be true of you (as well as my students!)

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