Have you ever been slow to obey? I sure have. It’s easy to drift into disobedience by over-analyzing situations, weighing pros and cons, and questioning why you would be asked to do something. But delayed obedience is disobedience.
Certain blessings God is waiting to pour out on you may have an expiration date. For example, one day last week I was prompted five times throughout the day (FIVE!) to ask someone if they needed dinner. The first time it was early morning (but who asks someone if they need dinner during the morning hours?! …apparently people who are obedient). Around noon, I had the same thought, but brushed it off again (because, you know, they were probably eating lunch). Then around 3:00…still brushing it off (they were probably busy with their job and wouldn’t respond anyway). Again at 4:00 (but by this time, I had made dinner plans with my parents…let’s not mention the coupon I had with me for another extra free meal). The last time I was prompted is the kicker and just shows what a stubborn, stiff-necked person I can be. This time, it was a little after 6:00, I was way early for an event we were both at, and they even mentioned that they hadn’t had dinner. What kind of hard-hearted jerk still ignores the still small voice telling her to offer to run across the street to grab some dinner?! This girl. I missed an opportunity to be a blessing…actually five opportunities. I could’ve been the vessel God used to remind someone He is faithful, to confirm that He’s looking out for them, and to reinforce His promise that He will provide, but that opportunity expired because I didn’t hasten to the Spirit’s prompting.
Granted, this may seem like a trivial example to some, but if I can’t obey God in the “little” things He’s guiding me to do, how can I ever expect to obey Him in the “big” things?
Is there a heart that will not bend
To Thy divine control?
Descend, O sovereign love, descend,
And melt that stubborn soul!
[from Songs for the Sanctuary, 1874]
“I will hasten and not delay to obey Your commands.” -Psalm 119:60
When He tells you to do something, DO IT. Right then. It may seem odd. It may put you in a humbling position. Do it. There’s a reason He wants you to. But what if what He has laid on my heart sounds crazy? Well, it wouldn’t be the first time God had asked someone to do something that sounds strange to our finite minds, would it?
Take the Israelites for example. They’d been wandering in the wilderness for 40 years and all that stood between them and their new home was Jericho. How in the world would they be able to destroy this great city? God gave them explicit instructions and the Israelites showed exemplary faith and obeyed, even though the instructions sound a little unusual.
Now the gates of Jericho were tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites. No one was allowed to go out or in. But the Lord said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors. You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days. Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day you are to march around the town seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. When you hear the priests give one long blast on the rams’ horns, have all the people shout as loud as they can. Then the walls of the town will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the town.” [Joshua 6:1-5]
Can you imagine? God promises you He’s going to give a city into your hands, all you have to do is march around it once a day for 6 days and then 7 times on the 7th day with priests blowing horns. Then the priests are to give one long blast on the horns and all the people will shout as loud as they can…then the walls will fall. Ooookay, really?!
But the Israelites had FAITH that God would keep His Word. “It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down.” [Hebrews 11:30] They trusted that He would follow through on His promise. And God definitely gets the glory here because, let’s face it, a marching band and thousands of others just walking around a city and then yelling most likely wouldn’t make it fall down. As David Platt said, “When the people of Israel take the city of Jericho in Joshua 6, what you don’t see is all the Israelites going up to the trumpet players and telling them what an incredible job they did. ‘Ralph, I never heard you play that well. Harry, you hit the high C and it was awesome.’ No, you see people on their faces saying ‘Only God could’ve done this.’” (from NOBTS) The Israelites got it. They had faith to obey God no matter how odd His instructions sounded.
Mary got it also. When the wine ran out at the wedding in Cana, she told the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.” [John 2:5]
Simon got it, too. He and his friends had been fishing all night and hadn’t caught a thing. Jesus was at the same lake and a crowd had gathered, so He hopped in Simon’s boat to teach them. When He had finished teaching, Jesus told them to let down their nets for a catch (why in the world should they expect to catch anything now?!). But, Simon took Jesus at His Word and let down the nets. “Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because You say so, I will let down the nets.'” [Luke 5:5]
They caught so many fish their nets were breaking. Oh if we would just take Him at His Word and obey. When you obey and people see God at work through you, they will be astonished. They will be amazed by the hand of God. “For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken…” [Luke 5:9]
Isn’t His Word good enough? Because You say so, I’ll do it. He’s always working for my good. He’s always working for His glory. If only I’d trust that and truly believe that and obey without delay what He tells me to do.
As Spurgeon said, “We accept the Lord Jesus by faith, and He teaches us obedience, and creates it in us. The more of faith in Him you have, the more of obedience to Him will you manifest.” To increase my faith, I must trust Him more. To trust Him more, I must know Him more. The more I know Him, the more I trust Him, and the more I trust Him, the more apt I will be to obey right away.
But for all the times I fail, for all the times I disobey, for all the times I stubbornly do what I think is best, I thank God for sending His Son who lived a life of perfect obedience and humbly obeyed to the end, becoming the sacrifice for my sins and giving me His righteousness. “For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.” [Romans 5:19]
Oh that we would do what He says without hesitation or question. May He shine brightly through our lives as we empty ourselves in humble obedience, following His lead no matter how absurd His instructions may seem. Because You say so, I’ll do it.
And may I encourage you to read a Spurgeon sermon on “The Obedience of Faith” that was preached on an August Thursday at The Metropolitan Tabernacle in 1890? It’s great. Read here.