My oldest and I went on a date over the weekend-- nothing fancy-- just a drive to the mall to make a return. I love these times alone with each of my kids. It's quiet, it's conversation, and it's unexpected peeks into the hearts of my children... "Sometimes I wonder why I respond right away when you call for me, and why I'm quick to obey," he says, without even an ounce of self-righteousness or contrived veneration.
"It's because I have an intense love for you and Baba, you know."
What can I say, I was pretty amazed at his evaluation of himself.
But, before I could respond with a word of praise, thanks, or affection in return, he adds,
"I really want that kind of love for the Lord, because my obedience to him is not always like that."
To God be the glory for moments when your kids get things that you never did at their age...or maybe don't even quite get, now.
We read this in 1 Samuel 15:22...
"And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams."
...and we believe his Word, and desire to obey. And, for those of us who miss obeying Him for all the serving we are doing for Him, He is calling us to put away the burnt offerings and instead, draw near at the sound of his voice.
Obey, draw near, listen. Absolutely...but how do we really do that?
Had my son said,
"Mama, I respond to you and obey you right away because I'm afraid of you," or
"Mama, I obey you because I know you'll give me an allowance if I do,"
...his obedience would wither up as his motivation decreased. And my heart would not have been blessed.
But, instead...he reminded me that happy and glad obedience comes from "an intense love."
An intense love is unsustainable through mere feelings and dreamy ideals; it is cultivated through knowing the one you love, and finding him to be who you've trusted him to be.
An intense love for our Savior begins in his Word. It begins with meditating on who he says he is and why he is trustworthy. It begins with believing him to be who he says he is and believing who he says you are.
Intense love feeds glad obedience.
And glad obedience supercedes burnt offerings...for which there is no need when the God of the universe is no longer judging you according to your sin, but according to Christ's righteousness...his beloved son for whom he has intense love for.
You see, my oldest responds with intense love for me and his Baba because we have intense love for him as parents. It all begins with the Father.
Christ has intense love for you, friend. And when you are in him as his beloved child, you have all you need to leave obligation and penance behind, and to grow that glad obedience you so desire.
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:36)