THE GARDEN OF OBEDIENCE
By Janice Price
One moment I was relaxing with a newspaper, the front door open to let in some late November sunshine, and the next I was staring in horror at forty pounds of canine animation flying feet-first at my side of the glass/screen door. On the other side, there was an eleven-year-old girl, who, along with four younger children, had raced laughing and yelling up the porch steps. Her hands were already reaching to brace herself on either side of the door as she leaned forward to press her face to the glass. Buddy hurtled toward the same spot, with only a thin pane of glass between them. The girl’s eyes grew wide as she noticed the dog coming at her, but she was moving too fast to stop her forward momentum. Buddy’s feet collided with the glass and it started to bow outward from the force.
The girl, who frequently spends weekends with family members next door, is sweet and energetic, and she runs to pet the dogs when I walk them, despite Buddy’s overly enthusiastic greetings.
She spent the day playing with four children visiting the older couple in the house on the other side of this one. My two dogs spent the day running through the house and barking at the noise of the children running around the outside of the house. When it grew quiet, the dogs settled down for a nap.
Then, for some reason, the girl decided she wanted to show the other children my dog Merci. The peace was suddenly shattered with a shrill racket that startled me to my feet with my heart pounding. The dogs raced, barking, from the bedroom. And just-turned-one-year-old Buddy did what he normally does when someone comes to the door. He leaped high into the air with excitement. Only this time he was still running forward and his big body, instead of rising straight into the air, went speeding toward the glass. He kicked at the glass to stop his flight, and the glass bowed. There was no time to react – to move or to scream – and nothing I could do to stop what was about to happen.
Miraculously – and I do mean miraculously! – the glass did not shatter. Buddy dropped to the floor, barking furiously at the commotion. There were now five faces pressed to the glass, all the children talking at once. “There’s the big dog.” “Where’s the little dog?” “Can we come in and see the dogs?”
The girl and her friends were oblivious to everything but their excitement, unaware of how close she had come to having shards of glass and a forty pound dog hit her in the face.
Many a time her mother has cautioned her to be less exuberant and more tranquil when she approaches my dogs, or any animal, for that matter. She has pets of her own, but they have become accustomed to her hyperactivity. She did not deliberately disobey her mother, but she is still a child and she was not thinking beyond the moment. As she matures, she will settle down, and Buddy, with a little more time and training, will stop trying for the high jump title when someone comes to the door.
God has cautioned us to be circumspect in our lives also, but we do not always listen. He has given us a road map with a compass to point us to the right path, or an owner’s manual without the diagrams and visual aids, whichever you want to call it, to guide us through this life and into his kingdom.
Some read it and some use it as a paperweight. Some memorize great passages of it, but do not comprehend the meaning. Some twist the meaning for their own profit. Many balk at a four-letter word used in the Bible - obey. Obey is not a dirty word. It is not a misprint.
We read in Scripture that children are to respect and obey their parents. Loving parents guide and set limits for their children, to protect them from harm and to teach them to make wise choices for a happy and healthy lifestyle.
Do we pray to the Father out of habit, without an understanding of the special relationship we are privileged to share with our brothers and sisters in Christ? Or do we understand how blessed we are to know God as our Spiritual Father? And if we call him Father, should we not obey him? As a loving Spiritual parent, God guides and sets limits for his children, to protect us from harm and to teach us to make wise choices for a happy and healthy lifestyle.
He offers us eternity, and yet we sometimes dig in our heels because we do not want to obey, or we want to choose which laws to accept. When I give Merci a command, she often ignores it. I repeat it and she looks at me as if to say, “You must be talking to Buddy. I’m too cute for that to apply to me.” She wants to control the relationship, just as humans frequently try to manipulate a relationship with our Creator. Let’s face it, there is only one God and none of us can claim the title.
The word obey has a negative connotation in American society today, but if we obey the command to love God first, we are blessed by our compliance. Our relationship with God deepens and our faith grows. Whether he wants us to participate in or to abstain from any activity, even if we do not understand his purpose for it, we should obey in faith. .
Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? Romans 6:16 NKJV
There are many things that can affect our judgment and send us rushing headfirst into disaster, just as the young girl, in her exuberance, had a momentary lapse of judgment – out of control anger, chronic pain and fatigue, the thrill of flirting with something we know to be sin, too much alcohol, even prescription drugs, or …..
Maturity in the faith is a growth process. It grows in the garden of obedience. The longer we are in the faith, the more settled and obedient we should become.
And being made perfect, he (Christ) became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him. Hebrews 5:9
Copyright 2005 Janice Price