I was driving on a lonely two-lane stretch across the middle of the state of Florida. It had been a tough week and I was more than tired. Stuck behind a semi tractor-trailer traveling at a snail’s pace, my patience was wearing thin. It felt like I would never get home.
Finally, a passing lane was in sight. I made my move.
Pressing down hard on the accelerator I picked up speed and began passing the obstacle that was between me and my bed.
And that’s when I saw him. I hoped he didn’t see me, but the flashing lights in my rear-view mirror shattered all hope.
While I think everyone needs an up close and personal encounter with a Polk County Sheriff at some point in their life, I didn’t want today to be my day.
Attempting to set the tone of this little adventure, I mustered up my best I love police officers greeting.
“Hello, Officer, how are you?”
“Driver’s license and registration,” came his curt reply.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, playing dumb.
“You were speeding.”
“I was?” More dumb-play.
“Yes ma’am,” he said.
When did my age creep into the ma’am category?
“Do you know the speed limit here?” he asked.
With conviction, I responded, “I believe it’s 65.”
“It’s 50. You were doing 75,” he retorted.
“Oh. I know I sped up…a little, but I was trying to pass that semi. I think it’s dangerous to travel behind a semi on a two-lane highway. You know, limited visibility and all. And, this is a passing lane. Aren’t you supposed to speed up in the passing lane?”
Not buying my any of my rhetoric, he replied, “Wait here, ma’am.”
Would you please stop with the name calling? I am not old enough to be a “ma’am”!
As I sat there waiting, knowing the inevitable outcome, I began to get mad. Why didn’t he understand my story? It was reasonable. Why didn’t he bend the rules for me?
But the better question was, why did I think this rule didn’t apply to me?
I am nothing if I’m not a rule following girl. But, that day I learned perhaps I’m only a rule following girl when I understand and agree with the rule.
I guess we can all fall into that trap. Not the Polk County Sherriff’s speed trap, but the trap of believing some rules don’t apply to us. That trap gives us license to talk ourselves out of compliance.
We adjust rules we don’t like so they better fit our desires and needs. We twist them into a distorted version of the original; bending them until they’re tailor-made just for us.
We can do this with God, too. We can bend and twist God’s word so it’s more aligned with our desires.
We can water it down, add to it, and subtract from it until we get just the right recipe of words to create a palatable “rule” that is sure to satisfy our taste du jour.
Thankfully, God gives us only two rules. Just two! And they are perfect for us.
(1) Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (2) And, love your neighbor as yourself. Mark12:30-31
Those two rules are fundamental to our purpose. They are designed to keep us in His will so we can successfully carry out everything He will ask us to do.
Indeed, every instruction He gives us to effectively follow Him, hinge on these two rules.
His will is perfect; ours is flawed. And spinning God’s word takes us out of His will.
When we allow our will to rule over His, we can miss divine assignments and blessings reserved just for us. We can miss parts of His majestic plan. We can miss some of the best He has in store for us.
When I look back at the times I’ve fallen short of loving God fully and loving others as myself, it’s usually because it wasn’t convenient for me at the time. But,
Obedience is defined as “dutiful or submissive compliance”. It’s a maturity thing. It takes being intentional and disciplined. It’s comforting to know that even Paul struggled with this as well (Romans 7:15-16); so we are in good company!
We all struggle at times with denying ourselves to be obedient to God’s will. Following God’s commands and assignments, even when we don’t understand or agree with them, is a sign of spiritual maturity.
I want to be compliant with what God calls me to do. And that means doing things I sometimes don’t want to do. And not doing things I do want to do.
That speeding ticket cost me something that day. It cost me money and it cost me precious time. Certainly, it wasn’t what God wanted for me that day. But how crazy is it that He used it to grow me up just a little bit more!
Oh yes, these are the disciplines that make us disciples.
What “rules” are you hesitant to follow? What disciplines are your big struggles? Have you overcome struggles with obedience? Please share your journey in the comments. We need your encouragement today.
A Truth: “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to His commands. As you have heard from the beginning, His command is that you walk in love.” 2 John 1:6
A Song: Trust and Obey by Hillsong Kids (Click here to listen)
A Read: The Heart of Love: Obeying God’s Two Great Commandments by Ted Rivera
A Prayer: Lord, thank you for reminding us that obedience, while not easy, is what’s best for us. You are infinitely greater and smarter than us. You have the best in store for us. Help us not miss your plan for our life because of disobedience. Grow this discipline in us. Give us the strength to fully follow and fully obey. In Jesus’ name. Amen.