Obedience is Hard

“You are my friends if you do what I command.” John 15:14 (NIV)


I don’t know what got me thinking about my high school years but the other day I was reminded of an exercise assigned during health class. Our family moved from New Jersey to Illinois at the beginning of my freshman year, my sister’s senior year.

School had already been in session for approximately three weeks by the time we got registered so I always felt like I was playing catch up.  Everyone knew everyone (or so it seemed) since elementary school and I was the new kid who spoke with a weird accent and had to keep switching classes because they didn’t know where I belonged.  By the time health class started, I had made a few friends but didn’t feel super connected with anyone in particular.  Looking back, that might have helped me with my choices, but at the time, I still felt like a failure.

The exercise was for the entire class to head to the cafeteria and stand together in a group.  The teachers had placed three separate signs spaced equally apart from each other. (Yes, No and Neutral) and we had to choose an answer after each question that was asked. The questions started out easy and continued to get harder.  “Would you ever choose to have sex with someone you dated?” or something similar to that.  I stood in the “no” line while everyone else stood in either the “yes” or neutral lines.  While it was slightly awkward being alone in the “no” line, it was made harder by the teacher calling attention to the fact I stood alone.

As a result, I was embarrassed and chose “neutral” for the remaining questions when my heart told me the right choice was bolder, either a “yes” or “no” depending upon what was asked.

I went home that day upset… mad at myself for compromising my values in a stupid freshman exercise because I knew it was more important than that. I knew by compromising then, I was starting down a slippery slope of potential compromise when it really mattered.  I also realized that day how hard obedience is.

Doing things God’s way isn’t a guarantee of easy.  In fact, it’s usually the opposite.  It’s usually much harder than giving in to our selfish desires.  God doesn’t apologize for hard.  In fact, He warns us ahead of time it is going to be hard.  Living life His way isn’t for the weak.  However, He doesn’t stop there.  It’s not easy… but we’re not alone.  He is right there with us, comforting us, guiding us and encouraging us.  Strengthening us so that when the next “hard” comes, we can overcome more easily.

That freshman exercise was about so much more than answering life scenarios with a “yes,” “no” or “neutral.”  It got me thinking about what it means to fully obey God all the time, whether or not peer pressure is present.

© Cheri Swalwell 2017


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