July 17: True Obedience Doesn't Have Conditions

There was a bona fide game of "Cops and Robbers" going on today, and they played ALL afternoon.
Those are the days...

Yesterday, Clayton learned how to ride a bike. And really there was no learning, he just kind of hopped on the bike and rode it down the driveway. Just like that. He apparently has been ready for a while. The boy was in heaven the rest of the afternoon. He LOVED it and was excited that he picked it up so easily. We live on a fairly quiet street traffic-wise, even though it's in the city, so I gave him permission to ride up and down our street with his friend. He was supposed to turn around at the stop sign and come back, and he did just that for quite a while, learning some tips and tricks on bike riding from his friend as he went back and forth.

Until he didn't. Instead of turning around at the stop sign, he turned the corner and disappeared.

He told me he didn't stay where he was supposed to because he had to make sure his friend, who lives around the block, got home ok. So I explained again how he needed to listen no matter what so that he could build some trust. And I gave him another chance. Only a short while later when Ben got home, he was nowhere to be found once again. I had to walk all the way around the block to retrieve him from his friend's house, nervous with every step that something had happened to him. Until I found him, that is, and then the nervousness quickly turned to anger. His reason this time was that everyone else was looking for a lost cat, and he had to help find it, too.

He was in big trouble. At that point he lost his bike for the night, of course, and he was devastated. He kept trying to justify and excuse his disobedience, utterly convinced that he didn't do anything wrong. After all, in his mind, both times he was trying to do a good thing and help his friends.

He woke up this morning with the bike on his mind, so I let him ride it a little before we left. He was allowed to ride it in the driveway, as I had several things to do before we left and couldn't sit outside and watch him. We have a nice, long paved driveway, so it didn't completely kill his fun. I emphasized the importance of listening after last night's breech of trust, and he assured me that he understood and would obey.

As I'm running around the house, brewing coffee, and gathering our things to head out for the day, I glance out the front window just in time to see him ride out of the driveway into the road, making a wide turn before heading back towards the driveway again. It's a wonder that human nature still surprises me, but it definitely still gets me every once in a while. I couldn't believe he left the driveway.

I opened the front door to tell him that he's lost the bike for now, no questions asked, and he proceeds to argue the fact that the end of the driveway is too narrow to turn around in and that he had to turn around in the road to avoid getting hurt or falling over.

And that's when I realized what was going on. In his mind, obedience had conditions. Fine print.

A clause that stated, it's okay to leave my street if I need to help my friends. Another stipulation that read, it's okay to ride in the road if I can't turn around in the driveway.

That realization opened the door to an excellent discussion, and he's done a much better job respecting the boundaries this afternoon.

I gotta say though, as difficult and frustrating as these kinds of things are with kids, I do love how it opens my eyes to how we interact with God as our Father. How many conditions of my own do I place on my obedience to the Lord?? 

"The counterfeit of obedience is a state of mind in which you create your own opportunities to sacrifice yourself, and your zeal and enthusiasm are mistaken for discernment."  Oswald Chambers

Take a few minutes and digest that quote--it's a powerful one!! I think I audibly gasped the first time I read it, because there is so much truth there. The fallen nature of humans and the deceitfulness of the heart never cease to amaze me. True obedience doesn't have conditions, but we put them in place every day.

I'll obey you, God, unless I read something in the Bible that I don't agree with.

I'll go anywhere you want me to go, God, unless you want me to go to Africa. Then I'm out. 

I'll do whatever you want me to do with my life, God, unless it means working with those people. You know the ones.

I'll obey you, God, unless it means ending this relationship, and I just don't think I can do that.

I'll follow you, God, unless you ask me to give up __________________. 

I'll obey you, God, unless...

What conditions are you placing on your obedience to the Lord? Whatever those conditions are, they are very things that you currently value more then Him {i.e., idols}. He's not calling us to second-rate obedience--He's calling us to complete obedience, without conditions, clauses, fine print, or stipulations.

At the end of the day, we all need to ask ourselves, is God enough?

God alone. Is He really enough? If he truly is, we would obey Him to the ends of the earth and back, without conditions.