I didn’t name my son George, but I really wanted to! It’s my dad’s name, and I love him. Michael vetoed that one when we were choosing names for our sons. (I had veto power myself, and used it to nix Rayphord. Yes, with a ph. If either of the twins are reading this, y’all are welcome!). I’ll tell you a story about George today.
I had been running and not paying attention to the oversized hammock strung between the two tress in front of me. How could I miss that? Six years old, I had been more concerned with what was behind me than what was in front of me: it was a great game of tag, and my little brother was gaining on me fast! I ran straight into the hammock and was flipped over onto my back. When I hit the ground, the wind had been knocked out of me. Little and scared, I looked frantically for my dad. I didn’t have to wait long. From my vantage point on the ground, I saw it happen: my dad jumped of the back porch – jumped off the back porch! – landed on his feet and came to my rescue without hesitation. You should have seen our back porch. It was high, I’m telling you. Scary high. Daddy lifted me up, reassured me, and stayed with me until I felt safe again. Already convinced that my dad was Superman, I now had proof: I had seen him fly.
This would not be the only time that my dad came to my rescue. Over and over again in my life, he made it clear through his words and action that nothing was more important to him than the success and safety of our family. He spent time with us, provided for us, protected us, loved us. it was obvious that the main goal in my dad’s life was to care for us and strengthen us. This knowledge made it pretty easy to submit to him. If you were convinced that your authority was dedicated to your happiness and success it would be infinitely easier to obey, wouldn’t it? Sure! That’s the way it was with my dad.
Of course, I went through difficult years like most of us did. I made my own mistakes and learned my own lessons. Though he always put in his “two cents worth”, Dad would let me struggle at times. In his wisdom, he knew that I would learn even in the struggle. Certainly, there was always a reminder that my difficulty would have been avoided or made easier had I listened, but even when I fell, he was always there to help me up.
Looking back, I honestly can’t remember a time when my dad turned out to be wrong. I didn’t always do what he told me, but things always seemed to work to my benefit when I did. From my childhood forward, there were times when I understood his direction and times when I did not understand. In either case, there was one aspect of his instruction that I always understood completely: my dad loved me and his motives centered around me becoming successful and happy. In a perfect world, our relationships with our earthly fathers would prepare us for and be a type of the relationship we would develop with our heavenly Father. In this way, as in every other possible way, my dad id his job well. As I grew, I was able to apply my experience with my earthly father to what would become my experience with my Heavenly Father. Because it was my experience that fathers were loving and caring and protective, I was able to accept that love more easily from my Father God.
Sadly, everyone does not have the relationship with their earthly fathers as I did with mine. If your experience was different, you have to make a concerted effort to seek healing and to exchange whatever feelings you have toward your earthly father for what you know to be true about your Heavenly Father: God loves you! Obedience is key, and our best path to obedience is being convinced that God loves us and means our best. As His motives toward us are pure, our motives in obedience must be pure as well. Sometimes it is important for us to know why we do the things we do. When we were children, we did things because we were told. Sometimes we understood why, sometimes we did not. However, as it is acceptable to use wisdom in helping us make decisions, it is not acceptable to trust your own wisdom over the wisdom of the Lord. When in doubt of your situation, you must never doubt God’s heart toward you. Practice being obedient. Make it your aim to please God, whether or not you understand His ways completely.
As we mature and make decisions for ourselves, the reason behind our obedience can help in the process. God searches out our motives as well as our obedience. In Jeremiah 17:10, God speaks to us and tells us, “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.” The motives behind your obedience (or disobedience) will produce fruit, and it is according to that fruit you will be judged. Strive to keep your heart open and pure before the Lord.
God’s Word communicates to us over and over again that God is love. Through every word and deed in our lives, we can easily recognize His heart and His intentions toward us. As we come to rest in His love, we will be able to minister His love to others. God cares for us so that we may pass on the fullness of God’s care and comfort to others who need to experience His comfort. In understanding our role in the providential plan of God, we must be aware that all He does for us is not ONLY for us. As we are His agents here on earth, it is up to us to do His work and see His kingdom increased.
Paul communicates this idea perfectly in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 when he writes, “our Lord Jesus Christ… comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” As we understand His motives toward us and as we find ourselves comforted by God, we are to pass that comfort on to others. As you become more and more obedient to Christ, you’ll find it easier and easier to serve others. My dad modeled this before me very well. When our obedience comes full circle in this way, we will be simultaneously fulfilling God’s plans for our lives AND furthering His kingdom here on earth. Win-win! In this way, our motives are every bit as important as our obedience.
From my six year old perspective, that porch was high. Scary high, I’m telling you. Years later, all grown and with children of my own, I stood in the backyard with my dad, my hero. Remembering that day and so many other days where he had put me first, I saw that porch from an adult perspective. Funny – it was only about four feet off the ground. I looked at my dad and realized: it didn’t change my perspective on him one single bit. Still convinced that my dad is Superman, I had proof: I had seen him fly.
Having an example to follow here on earth is a bonus – realizing that we have the greatest example in Jesus Christ is a treasure. Praying that you’ll find His example worthy to follow and experience the blessings of obedience in your life ❤