Do you ever wonder what obedience is? Deep in your heart you’re thinking, “Lord, what the hell do you want from me anyway?” Excuse the language, but really. Sometimes that’s how I feel.
You face a situation where you have absolutely no idea how to go forward – every option seems either too scary or too fraught with pain. Or you really have no clue what the right decision is – you can’t seem to understand the current situation well enough even to put the right foot in front of the left. Or you have been completely removed from the known and every paradigm has shifted, every piece of reality altered.
Ummm…ok. Could you please tell me what that means? Give me the list – or, not the whole list, just the top ten and I’ll start with that.
Sometimes I wish I could join up with the Pharisees. I mean, they really had something good going on – don’t you think? They had The List and all they had to do was start with number 1 and go from there. Pouring mint and cumin into the offering plate seems a bit bizarre these days, but if it makes my life a little less complicated I’m willing to do it. Especially if less complicated can equal a bit of obedience stored up for me.
The problem is Jesus didn’t seem too impressed with the Pharisees, which makes things a bit harder in the whole obedience department. He seemed to think the mint and the cumin were somehow missing the point.
“Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Really? I mean, he left everything he knew, started out on a pretty ridiculous pilgrimage, handed his wife over to Pharaoh to save his own skin, ended up in an area 100% claimed by someone else, watched his family fall apart, buried his wife. A whole lot more complicated than tithing mint and cumin. His whole life was one upsetting, unbroken cycle: obedience, disobedience, obedience, disobedience, obedience, disobedience. And he was called the friend of God.
There must have been something so precious to the Lord that only He could see – something deep within Abraham’s heart that grew stronger and stronger as He lived with this God who had plunged him into the dark and complicated and dangerous life of a stumbling pilgrim.
I wonder if Jesus was thinking about Abraham when he felt his feet being washed by Mary. Did He feel His own heart respond to her, in recognition of that deep well of love and trust that Abraham dug deeper and deeper in himself all through those complicated and painful years? Maybe it was only the tears that caused the Lord to recognize in Mary the kind of trust that lived in Abraham.
That’s what I want. And, in my best moments, that’s all I want. I want a heart that loves. I want a heart that trusts. The trust is the obedience. Without the trust, without the love, there is no obedience.
Which means, I guess, that the hardest work I will ever do is done in my heart.