Obedience Matters

Obedience Matters

Obedience Matters

As a Grade seven student in Kenya, East Africa, one verse used to terrify me. Some of our boarding schoolteachers were known to use this verse in chapel meetings after a student had seriously flouted the rules. That student might get away with merely verbal punishment. Physical forms of discipline, like having to do push-ups, were rare. For years, my great internal challenge at Rift Valley Academy was learning to balance obeying regulations and controlling my emotions. Through it all, I learned obedience matters.

But the scripture took hold in my heart, and in quiet moments, I came back to it, sometimes fearing that I had provoked the wrath of God. In the chapel message, we learned how Saul disobeyed Samuel’s instructions. When Samuel learned that Saul hadn’t destroyed all the Amalekites, Samuel told the king, “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance is like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the Word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.” 1 Samuel 15:22,23 

I remember thinking how challenging it must have been to obey every instruction he heard Samuel give him. Saul lost the kingdom, his mind, his son, and finally, his life, showing the gradual demise of a great man. Obedience matters.

I thought about that every time we sang the hymn “Trust and obey.” Obedience to everything in the Word of God seemed impossible in my teen years. Gradually, I learned the truth, as Eugene Peterson put it in a commentary on Jeremiah, that God wants “Obedience in a long direction.” At each stage of life, we learn more about the Lord’s work. I came to realize that the more I love the Lord Jesus Christ, the easier it is to put away childish things. Putting Christ first in any situation offers me the correct pathway. I have discovered how much obedience matters.

Recently, I thought about the nature of obedience to God’s Word. Several letters arrived at the LAM Office, and each one showed how wonderful it is when individuals choose to take the Word as their pattern of living. Behind the story in every letter, I knew there are great sacrifices made in personal, family, and financial situations. 

Alan and Eileen van der Woerd spent the last couple of months back in Central America, examining the options for where they might serve by teaching the Scriptures. Dione Lime Santos lives in Brazil and works in the humid Amazon rainforest. Dione shares how she takes the Word of God to Brazilian Indigenous women in her letter. Daniel and Helen Bravo make their home in Barranquilla, Colombia. Recently Daniel undertook a trip aiming to provide water for refugees travelling through the Darien Gap. Daniel and Kamia Paul have recently resumed their missionary work in Colombia. Daniel offers us insights into his Christian calling and what that means for them as a family.

   By David Phillips