Thursday, May 8, 2008

Love & Obedience

I am physically affectionate. It's one of my favorite forms of expressing and receiving love. It's probably the one I speak most loudly to my children. However, I am learning that attention is one of mine also, probably my most desired, as it is also for my children.

We have been working on obedience. Doing what Momma says, "right away, all the way, in a happy way" (Ginger Plowman). Today, Dylan was kissing and hugging me. Showing me that he loves me. He did things that he thought would be helpful, yet disregarded the things I asked him to do. Even when I asked him repeatedly. Over and over, he disobeyed me. Over and over I had to give him consequences. Dylan has also been very pushy and loud lately, especially when Sam and Jacob don't do what he wants them to do. He is frustrated and he inflicts his frustration on his smaller siblings. Now, I am no perfect mother. I promise you. I try to be very patient and calm with my children. And often, when I try to do it in my own strength I fail, miserably! The only way I can truly accomplish this, is in the power of the Holy Spirit. So, with this background, here's the dialog.

Dylan - smooch, smooch, hug, hug, on Momma
Momma - (Not feeling loved b/c of prior disobediences) Dylan, I love you. If you really want to love me, please obey me. It is very important that you learn to obey Momma.
Dylan - blankly, Yes Ma'am
(I can hear the Lord whispering these words to my heart as well....) Lord, let my heart me more responsive, for my sake and Dylan's.

Dylan - pushing and yelling at Jacob and Sam to get this way
Momma - Dylan, hurting and threatening people is not going to get them to do what you want them to do. You have to LOVE them and be kind to them.
(Yes, Carmen, that is true for you, too.) Yes, Lord. I know you are right.

Love, obedience. Isn't that why we love the Lord? Because He first loved us. I have to love my children, with attention, patience, kindness and gentle adoration, even when they disobey me. This is what compels obedience. Not the fear of any consequence. I give my children consequences for disobedience because when they mature and become adults, they must know that every choice they make has consequences. It is also how the Lord disciplines His own children, by allowing us to learn by reaping what we have sown when we decide to repeatedly disobey. But today I realized that consequences are not what motivate my children to obey me. It is knowing that I love them and that they can trust me that makes them want to do what I ask. It's just like our relationship with the Lord. Isn't that what compels us to obey God? Threats, accusations and guilt are the Enemy's tactics, deceptions, to keep us in submission. Not God's. God gave His life for us. God's love was nailed to a tree. We are free. That is why I want to obey. Because even when I disobey, He still loves me and paid the price even for my most recent disobediences. Before I sin Lord, help me to remember the price that you paid to receive me back from it. (Banish the thought, Lord. Though I know each day that I live falls short of Your mark.) May I see obedience in the light of Your Love, for myself and for my children.

1 Samuel 15:22 - Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the sin of idolatry.

Hosea 6:6 - For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

1 John 4:10 -This is love: not that we loved God, but that He first loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

1 John 4:19 -We love because He first loved us.

Righteousness: (for us and raising our children)
James 1:19-20 - My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger, for man's anger does not produce the righteousness of God.

If we truly acknowledge Him, and all that He is, we will want to obey, won't we? No praise, no self-chosen form of "acknowledgment" of the Lord, can ever replace our need to obey the commands our loving God. Father, give me an obedient heart and wisdom to count every command as a gently spoken blessed direction, remembering all that you have prepared for me and how very much You love me.

If I want people to know that the Lord is the Living God, Almighty, Ever-present, Unlimited and All-seeing, then I need to act like He is. Do what He says, when He says it. All the way, right away, in a happy way. Lord, may I practice this, even when I get it wrong, may I return to get it right.

May I listen more than I speak. May I love more than I think.