The Relief of Obedience

By Shannon Keenan

Obedience is
The very best way
To show that you believe
Doing exactly what the Lord commands
Doing it happily
Action is the key
Do it immediately
Joy you will receive
Obedience is
The very best way
To show that you believe

These are the lyrics to a song we used to sing as kids. Whenever my mom would ask us to do something and we didn’t get up and get moving on it promptly, she would start to sing O-B-E…and typically, before she could get to D, we would be up because we didn’t want her to finish the song.

Webster’s defines obedience thusly: “compliance with an order, request, or law or submission to another’s authority.” For me, that word “submission” tends to trip me up. I don’t really have a submissive bone in my body, so that is something I struggle with. However, in the past several months, God has really been calling me to have a heart of submission to His will for my life. And, as the professional sinner that I am, I have been doing everything I could to ignore His requests.

Recently Anthony preached on the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector from Luke 18. He talked about how the Pharisee had been holding up his resume of “obedience” to God, reminding Him of all the ways that he had kept the law, and what a good person he was, and how he deserved a place in the kingdom of heaven. Anthony talked about how we have a tendency to do that ourselves.

As I sat and listened to Anthony preach, I could see myself, standing before God, holding up my resume of obedience, in light of the ways God was calling my heart to submit to Him. I could hear myself saying “but look at all the other ways I have surrendered my life to you.”

It was in that moment that God quietly said to me, “Shannon, I sent Jesus to die for ALL of your sin. Not just the sin you are willing to repent of. I want you to give me your whole heart. I want you to trust me with every area of your life.” I was convicted. The Word had pierced my soul, and I was no longer willing to ignore God’s request for my complete submission.

So I have taken tangible actions to be obedient to God’s calling on my life. Was it easy? Not even remotely. Did I do it “happily” as the song says? Not exactly. But I will say this. I feel a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. A weight that, honestly, I hadn’t been aware I was carrying.

Obedience is for every part of our lives and requires us to bow the knee to God’s will. It is hard, sometimes painful and often costly. But God never calls us to anything that He hasn’t equipped us for. He has given us Himself. He has given us Jesus. He has given us His Spirit. He has given us all the tools we need to walk the path He has set for us. At the end of the sermon (Word of God proclaimed), I need to ask myself, “What is God saying specifically to me in this sermon?” And then I need to allow myself to be open to the moving of the Holy Spirit. It’s good for my soul.