As we are told in Genesis, God created the universe and everything in the universe. God created the birds, each “according to its kind”.
And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
– Genesis 1:20-21 (NIV)
Ironically, God created several “winged birds” that cannot fly above the earth. Do those birds worry about their lack of flight? Does the penguin look at the albatross soaring high above and lament it’s terrestrial existence? Or are the birds content in the design of their creator?
Perhaps we humans are the only species capable of thinking we know better than God. We convince ourselves we possess a better understanding of how to live than our creator. If you take a moment to think about it, the concept of our own motivation is quite comical. The created knows better than the creator?
Follow Your Heart?
One morning, our friendly penguin woke up, heart filled with the desire to fly. Seeking an expert, he spoke with the albatross. Mr. Albatross convinced the penguin flight was easy. “I can do this” thought the envious penguin. The penguin spends the next several hours navigating the cliffs until he was high above the surface of the ocean. Looking over the cliff, the penguin reminded itself of the words of the albatross – “flight is easy”. I think we know what happens when the penguin leaps off the cliff.
Ridiculous, right? But we do this every time we seek our own path instead of remaining obedient to God.
God did not design the penguin to fly. He gave each bird species unique skills and placed them in unique circumstances. Could the eagle change places with the ostrich? Could a turkey hover like a hummingbird? No. Each to their design.
To humans belong the plans of the heart,
but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.
All a person’s ways seem pure to them,
but motives are weighed by the Lord.
Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and he will establish your plans.
The Lord works out everything to its proper end—
even the wicked for a day of disaster.
The Lord detests all the proud of heart.
Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.
Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;
through the fear of the Lord evil is avoided.
When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way,
he causes their enemies to make peace with them.
Better a little with righteousness
than much gain with injustice.
In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.
–Proverbs 16:1-9 (NIV)
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” How are we to commit? The answer is not an easy pill to swallow: We are to be obedient.
Obedience is a tough word for many of us. It implies weakness, lack of freedom, a squelched will. But as a parent requires obedience from a young child, God requires the same of us. We cannot imagine the designs He has for us, for our family, for our friends. We cannot imagine the millions of personal interactions that God manages each and every day to move His Kingdom forward.
You cannot be obedient if we don’t know what God wants of us. What is God’s plan for you? Have you asked Him? Do you seek that answer each and every day?
I resisted obedience early in my spiritual journey. I had it all under control. When things didn’t go my way, I might return to God’s plan for a brief period of time. Once things were back on track, I would resort to self-sufficiency. “Thanks God, I’ve got it from here”. The biggest problem is we believe the “I’ve got this” lie, consciously and unconsciously.
Just when we see the fruits of our obedience, we turn our back on God. And Satan celebrates.
The desire to be “self-sufficient” is my biggest obstacle to obedience. But my experience has been that the greater my obedience, the greater the realization of self.
“The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become – because He made us. He invented us. He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be. It is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.”
― C.S. Lewis
In the last few years, I have found a level of contentment, of peace that I never experienced before I practiced obedience. When God challenges me now, pushing me to a new level of trust and obedience, I can feel the tension growing. I can feel my pride welling up inside of me, resentful of being told what to do. Fearing the result of the unknown. Not wanting to step outside my comfort zone and trust God.
But when I put my ego aside and follow God’s path, I find peace. Twice in the past week, God has asked me to send emails I did not want to send. He asked me to be vulnerable and open with someone that I would really have preferred to remain closed off from. After an afternoon of “discussion” with God (Really God? You want me to do what?), I sent the emails. How do I know it was the right thing to do? The moment I hit send, I was at peace. Not because of the content of the email, not because of the result of the email, but simply through obedience.
Peace. A peace that can only come from God. A peace totally independent of my secular desires. A peace that doesn’t fade like our secular desires.
The reward of obedience? Knowing one’s true self. Peace. Contentment. Honoring God.
God’s wild creatures live obedient to His design. God has a design for your life as well.
- Do you know His plan?
- Do you seek His guidance each day?
- Do you strive to be obedient?
- How often are you obedient?
- What challenges have you faced?
Please share your experience in the comments.