Friday, August 6, 2010

Obedience, Not Success, is the Goal

Oh Oswald, you never cease to stretch me... to make me uncomfortable with what I've always believed to be true... You never let me rest in the cushy comfort of my denial. On July 28, you ask what comes after obedience. Then you tell me that it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter?!

But in my self-centered, self-focused, self-absorbed mind, the reason for obeying is the success, the affirmation, the good results that come from obedience. Why else would I obey? I'm trying to avoid pain at all cost, and I thought obedience would accomplish that goal. Now you're telling me that's not true?!

You're telling me that raising my kids right won't guarantee that they will continue to give me warm fuzzies all the days of my life? That working hard at my job won't guarantee promotions and pay raises? That paying my taxes and obeying the law doesn't always guarantee a roof over my head, a full stomach and my every need met? That endlessly pouring myself out in ministry won't guarantee that everyone will rally around me, scrambling to help?

"NO!" says Oswald Chambers. Even after obedience, there is no guarantee of success. Success is not the goal, obedience is. Wow, I need to hear that again... Success is not the goal, obedience is. Chambers says, "God is not working towards a particular finish, His end is the process--that I see Him walking on the waves, no shore in sight, no success, no goal, just the absolute certainty that it is all right because I see Him walking on the sea." But I want closure! I can't stand the tension of not knowing how things will turn out. How will I know, Jesus, that you will make it? That you won't sink?

Chambers continues, "God's end is to enable me to see that He can walk on the chaos of my life just now." (Oh, there's plenty of that!) He tells me that if I have anything further in view, I won't pay enough attention to what a miraculous thing it is that God is walking on the chaos of my life! I'll miss it. I'll miss the whole point because I'm looking for his successful landing. I'm looking so desperately for closure that I miss the miracle. He says that if I see obedience as the end, the goal, then each moment as it comes will be precious.

Oh, how many precious moments have I missed because I was so anxious to know how the chapter ends. How many have I missed because I was seeking so desperately for a shred of success... some redeeming moment that would make the obedience worthwhile? How much have I missed because I didn't know that the obedience is worthwhile all on its own?

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I would love to hear from you! Let me know what you think and how I can pray for you. Most of us are carrying some pretty heavy baggage and the good news is, you don't have to carry it alone! You can lay it at the feet of Jesus, and sometimes we need help just letting go of our baggage and not picking it up again. We're in this together!