On the eve of Mother’s Day three years ago, my gift came, bundled up in the hearts of three darling little boys. My husband had been out of state for an entire week at some business meetings on the East Coast, and then attending my brother’s law school graduation. I was tired, pregnant with our fourth son, and the stress on my body was manifesting itself in pain.
I did as I do virtually every night, I asked the boys to clean up. The youngest (age 2) had already done his part so I had him downstairs taking a bath. Expecting, to have to go up and remind the older boys (ages 4 & 6) of the task at hand, I was greeted by one on the stairs, and before I could get my question out he exuberantly declared, “Mom! We organized all of upstairs!” I came up and to my delight, it was true, not only picked up but neatly organized too!
While one came down for a bath, the oldest continued to organize their room and the family room downstairs. At one point he sweetly came up to me, “Do you know why we organized Mom? Because we love you.”
Later, I was putting my second son to bed. He told me the same line the oldest had declared to me. And then so much more. “Mom, I’m only going to take out one toy at a time and then put it back so we keep it organized…. Mom, I’m always going to be nice to my brothers….. Mom, I just don’t ever want to do bad things, I don’t want spankings or time outs, and I just want to listen and obey…and Mom, I’m going to pray that you feel better. And when you wake up in the night, if you hear me talking, don’t be afraid, it’s just me praying for you to feel better.”
I was blown away, not because I know it’s possible for a four year old to keep such a word, but because of what the simple act of obedience earlier in the evening led to. By obeying, their hearts were open to heaven, and heaven started invading and giving perspective, changing the way they actually viewed life.
So often, we get wrapped up on insisting on our blessings as adopted children, an entitlement attitude with little or no responsibility attached. But the Bible clearly marks that those who walk in obedience will be those who walk in supernatural and abundant blessings. It says of Abraham, “And through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” (Genesis 22:18) There are times we get so wrapped up in the wonder of grace, that we lose out on the full blessing of pure and simple obedience. Bill Johnson says, “Grace doesn’t overlook sin, it empowers obedience.”
Some of my greatest heroes on earth are missionaries. Those who have given up comforts and dreams in life by a simple yes in their heart to God. My Grandfather, was a farm-boy teenager from New York, who said yes to the voice of God calling him to Alaska before it was even a state. With a young family, they drove to an arctic territory, to live on a remote river village accessed only by boat or float plane. Simple, pure-hearted obedience. Many of our best friends have given up the American dream of a successful job, a gorgeous home, and a beautiful life to say yes to a life in obedience of taking the gospel to another culture and nation. Simple obedience. Then there are the ones marked in history, the Hudson Taylors, Elisabeth Elliots, Rees Howells, and the list goes on. Joy filled obedience. And we wonder where their impactful joy and sustenance comes from?
“If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. All these blessing will come to you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God. The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands.” (Dt 28:1,2,12)
Could it be that we were seeking joy in all the wrong places? Could the simple answer of blessing and joy be found in the child-like quality of obedience? While missionaries are my heros, I have not been called to some exotic country. I live in Alaska, in comfortable home, and have the privilege of staying home, caring for our home and family. But still, everyday, I have choices, choices of where to obey God and His Word of God (no judgment, no coveting, love your enemies, etc), choices of obeying his still small (or sometimes very loud) voice. And today, I choose obedience, whether hard or easy, I choose a yes to God, whether contrary to political correctness, I choose yes.
Interesting how we concluded that sweet eve before Mother’s Day: reading my children’s favorite Rhyme Bible Storybook. They chose the story of Jonah. My oldest assessed the situation, “Jonah should have obeyed.”
Yes, you’re right dear son, there’s a whole lot more to obedience than we know, heaven is dying to kiss us and bring us closer to the Kingdom of our God and shower us with the bountiful blessings from the floodgates heaven.
Happy Mother’s Day and Many Abundant Blessings!