Obedience seems to invade my thoughts a lot lately, maybe because I have 12 and 14-year-old boys who sometimes struggle with obedience. Sometimes there’s outright resistance. Sometimes there’s physical obedience with mental disobedience. And, sometimes, there’s true obedience out of love and respect.
My boys know that we have zero tolerance for two things: Disobedience and disrespect. Separating outright disobedience and disrespect from general teenage boy stupidity presents a challenge at times, but we do our best as parents to not just discipline when our kids are disrespectful and/or disobedient but to explain the serous impact of those behaviors both temporally and eternally.
Almost every time I discipline my boys for disobedience or disrespect, the Holy Spirit gently reminds me of the presence of both issues in my own life, especially disobedience. To help with this understanding, Isaiah 40:5-11 gives a picture of the Lord’s obedient servant.
Just as God did with Isaiah, He gives new understanding of His will on a consistent and daily basis. He only asks that we diligently listen to Him, refuse to turn away from Him and avoid hiding from Him (v. 4-6).
In obediently paying attention to God, the benefits of obedience become increasingly evident.
- Courage. Dismay becomes dispelled, replaced by a stone-like, immovable quality (v. 7).
- Determination. His will becomes all that matters (v. 7).
- Confidence. Assurance of victory (v. 7).
- Presence. Always near His righteousness (v. 8).
- Certainty. Enemies destroyed and guilt erased (v. 8, 9).
Isaiah then goes on to describe two alternate realities that exist in opposition to obedience. The first reality involves being so steeped in darkness we are incapable of turning to the light, and we can’t bear to see the lit path of obedience.
The second reality involves existing in a false light, one where we create our own reality and our own truth to the point of no longer having an awareness of God’s light, which shows us the path of obedience. This reality is actually worse because seeing a light within a light is almost impossible.
The result of these alternate realities involves “great torment” (v. 11), referring to an eternal separation from God. When I realize the devastation accompanying disobedience as compared to the joy of obedience, I find motivation to seek His light in darkness and to rid my life of any false light leading me down the wrong path.
As a parent, I want my kids to focus on the paths God lights before them and not on darkness or any self-created light. That perspective as a parent gives greater understanding of the fact that my Heavenly Father wants the same for me as His child.
So I seek to teach my boys the benefits of obedience that exist now and that extend into adulthood and eternity. At the same time, I also seek obedience and its benefits for my own life on both sides of Heaven.
DISCUSSION: How do we seek obedience and its benefits?