I was thinking the other day about our attitude of obedience to God, and it reminded me of a Sherlock Holmes story where Sherlock sends a message to Dr. Watson that says, “Come at once if convenient. If inconvenient, come all the same.” I feel like Christ’s call to us is similar. Why do we think that the God who made the universe would care if obedience to Him fits conveniently into our little plans? He is God – we need to obey Him whether it is convenient or not.

It’s amazing how we can twist ourselves into every type of contortion to justify our disobedience. And how easy it is to point at fingers at others and say, “Look how they disobey God,” while we are meanwhile failing to submit to Him in our own lives. It’s so important to remind ourselves daily (at a minimum) that obedience to God is not a checklist of things we don’t do or even things that we do. We can’t just go down and check things off the list, and then say that we have finished obeying God and now it’s time to relax. Obedience is a choice that we make over and over again every day. The choice to surrender our own wills and our own small ideas of how things should be, so we can live our lives to glorify our Creator and to be part of His larger plan. In order to really do this, we first need to recognize and appreciate that the larger plan is not about “me.” We like to cherry-pick verses like Jeremiah 29:11 and Philippians 4:13 and use them like a motivational poster telling us that God loves us, so He will fulfill all of our dreams if we just believe. But if we read those verses in context, then we quickly see that they aren’t saying what a lot of people interpret them to mean. For example, let’s look at the verse in Philippians along with the verse immediately preceding it: “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” 

It’s easy to get caught up in the modern American culture and forget that when God “prospers us,” “works things for our good,” and allows us to “do all things,” He is speaking from HIS perspective, not our limited human perspective. The things that are good and prosperous for us may not be what we think they are, and they often are not what we would have initially chosen for ourselves. To truly obey God, we need to take our minds away from ideas of worldly prosperity and look for God’s definition of success.

“I spoke to you in your prosperity, but you said, ‘I will not hear.’ This has been your manner from your youth, that you did not obey My voice.”
Jeremiah 22:21

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”
2 Corinthians 10:3-6

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Romans 12:1-2

The theme of sacrifice and servanthood is so prevalent throughout the Bible, and it brings my thoughts here full circle. We are to sacrifice ourselves to Christ, to take up our cross and follow Him, to obey Him no matter where that leads. I think it’s safe to say that convenience and comfort are not even meant to be factored in here. It’s so easy to get lulled into the mindset of convenience and self-gratification, but if I really want to obey God, I need to resist that mindset and focus on a life of sacrifice and submission to a will greater than my own.