1 Samuel 15:22 (ESV) “And Samuel said, ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.’”
Pupping gas into his sedan, David taps his foot in time with the melody in his head. Another vehicle pulls in next to him and an older woman steps out with the weight of this world bearing down on her shoulders. A small nudge tugs at David’s heart. “Ask to pray over her.” David knew the Lord’s voice all too well, but normally it spoke peace into his life, not a task. His foot stop tapping as him contemplated this task. Time passed. David’s hands grew hot with nervousness. He came around to stand in front of the woman.
“Excuse me, I know this might sound weird, but can I pray for you?” Before he finished the words, the woman’s eyes overflowed with tears.
“Yes. Please.” Emotion covered her face as she choked out the words, “My husband has just been diagnosed with stage four cancer and I didn’t think God cared.”
Startled with the announcement, David stood as she continued to cry silent tears. “Now pray over her, David” the Spirit led. In obedience, David placed his hand softly on the woman’s shoulder and prayed for her there at the gas station. Afterwards, with a weak smile, she thanked him for reminding her that God still cared and then she left his standing next to his own car staring after her.
This very instance happened to a friend of mine a few years ago. He just went about his business, but God called him to be about his Father’s business. And in David’s obedience, he blessed God, blessed the woman, and blessed himself. There is blessing in obedience. He never did find out if the woman’s husband survived the cancer, but at that moment, God used him to reach out to this woman who didn’t think He still cared.
God calls us to obey Him for so many reasons and they connect into a beautifully woven life. We obey to show we love Him. John 14:15 states, “If you love me, you will obey my commands.” Here is a god who does not give laws and then leaves. No, by far, we have a Heavenly Father who desires a relationship with us as his children and as such He requires obedience just like we do with our own children.
I require obedience from my children for several reasons, but the biggest one at this stage in their young lives is for protection. If I, being human and prone to mistakes, want my children to be protected, then how much more does our Heavenly Father want to protect us from things? Have you ever wondered why God allowed something unfortunate to happen in your life? We often blame God for not protecting us, but I know in my own life, a lot of those unfortunate events were due to my disobedience. I have not always obeyed the Lord when it comes to my finances and often found myself in a pickle. But if I had kept God’s principals with my spending I could have kept myself out of debt.
But it goes further than that. God is not a surface level God. He’s always layering things: lessons, love, and mercy blended together with correction and redemption. I love it! Years ago, we were financially strapped (yes, due to our disobedience) but we felt called to start obeying the Lord and tithe. It was just a little, but it’s all we had. Yes, it was a sacrifice at that time to obey the Lord. And God honored our small step of faith in obedience. We came home from church that morning and found at our door step a box of diapers, a bouquet of flowers and an unsigned card with a hundred dollars in it. Talk about being blessed! We just had our second child and the cost of daycare and diapers exceeded our rent.
The card had a hand-written message in it that I recognized immediately as my best friend’s. I called her thanking her so much for the blessing and she said, “I just felt like God was leading me to do this and I just obeyed Him. Thank God, not me.” You better believe we were thanking God. We obeyed Him with tithing not expecting anything, but to just bless God. In blessing God and honoring His command, He blessed us in return through the obedience of my friend who also received a blessing.
Our Heavenly Father knows so much more and sees beyond what I can see. David didn’t know the woman or her situation. He just obeyed. And that has become his lifestyle. David’s life is a life of obedience and it’s not always easy. He faces opposition and it requires faith, but I have seen his faith and his ministry and his blessings grow beyond measure because of his obedience. I’ll be honest; I need to be more faithful in my obedience to finances. As I write this I know the Holy Spirit is lovingly convicting me and I will not disobey. I want to live a life of obedience, of bold and radical obedience. Yes, I will be met with opposition. It’s a guarantee, but if God is for me than who can be against me?
As you go about your day, I encourage you to stop and ask the Holy Spirit in what areas do you need to be obedient? I’ll tell you this much: a call to obedience is a call to get out of your comfort zone. It requires faith. To speak to a complete stranger. To tithe despite what your checkbook says. Who knows except for you and God?