In striving to do take these baby steps of obedience, I must will myself to give up my vote. To give up what I had once considered my "legal right".
Prior to bowing the knee to Christ, and allowing Him to dictate my walk, I had convinced myself that I am in charge. Me, me, me! Now that the right to my life is gone, my flesh is going crazy. I totally understand what Paul says in Romans 7.
The flesh wars against the Spirit. It is a daily battle. Make that hourly. No, better make that second by second.
Obedience is hard, difficult work. It goes against every natural tendency of my body, mind, and soul.
Those who know me well know that I am stubborn to the core. My parents always thought I would make a great lawyer (just like Dad) because of my determination to argue my point into the ground. Leave it to God to give me a daughter who is every bit as willful and obstinate as I am...possibly more. Great sense of humor, God!
Ella has entered a phase in which she wants to do the exact opposite of whatever her dad or I tell her to do. She is testing her limits and trying to find out who she is. She wants to do things her way. Though I completely empathize with her, it is my job as her mother to point her towards obedience. Because, whether she wants to believe it or not, I have nothing but the best in mind for her. I want her to learn certain lessons now so that she doesn't have to endure harder lessons later in life. My goal is not to make her life miserable. It is to point her in the right direction. To make her path easier. To shelter her from unnecessary pain. She can't see that right now. All she sees is that I am making her do things she does not want to do. And she is fighting back. She is resisting my authority over her. She is making her life more complicated and difficult than it has to be. See, if she would just walk in my rules and the plan I set out for her, her days would be peaceful (and so would mine!). If she would just submit her will to mine, her life would be so much better.
Isn't it just like God to put people in our lives that remind us of ourselves to force us to look deeper into our own hearts? God, in His infinite wisdom, blessed me with this child (whom I love more than life) so that I could have a firsthand view into the way I treat Him. To Him, I am that ornery child, pushing against His Will for my life. I fight back against His loving hand that longs to make my way easy and my burdens light. You see, when I am not in control and I allow Him to rule my daily life, the burden is lifted off of me.
Of course, obedience to God does not mean that everything is coming up roses. It is a tough road. Loneliness sets in at times. I see others getting their way and I wish I could take back the reins over my life. Just like a child, I whine to God,
"But, Jane Doe gets to do (fill in the blank with whatever it is that I wish I were doing other than what God had told me to do) ____________. Why can't I have that kind of ministry??"
Then, Jesus says to me, "'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.'" (Matt. 16:24) And, I have to follow Him. I have to leave my own desires and "rights" behind. I have to fall in step with Him. To me, there really is no other choice.
Here is what A.W. Tozer says on submission to God (taken from The Divine Conquest, Chapter 10 - The Spirit-filled Life):
If the Spirit takes charge of your life He will expect unquestioning obedience in everything. He will not tolerate in you the self-sins even though they are permitted and excused by most Christians. By the self-sins I mean self-love, self-pity, self-seeking, self-confidence, self-righteousness, self-aggrandizement, self-defense. You will find the Spirit to be in sharp opposition to the easy ways of the world and of the mixed multitude within the precincts of religion. He will be jealous over you for good. He will not allow you to boast or swagger or show off. He will take the direction of your life away from you. He will reserve the right to test you, to discipline you, to chasten you for your soul's sake. He may strip you of many of those borderline pleasures that other Christians enjoy but that are to you a source of refined evil. Through it all He will enfold you in a love so vast, so mighty, so all-embracing, so wondrous that your very losses will seem like gains and your small pains like pleasures. Yet the flesh will whimper under His yoke and cry out against it as a burden too great to bear. And you will be permitted to enjoy the solemn privilege of suffering to fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in your flesh for His body's sake, which is the Church. Now, with the conditions before you, do you still want to be filled with the Holy Spirit?"
If this appears severe, let us remember that the way of the cross is never easy. The shine and glamour accompanying popular religious movements is as false as the sheen on the wings of the angel of darkness when he for a moment transforms himself into an angel of light. The spiritual timidity that fears to show the cross in its true character is not on any grounds to be excused. It can result only in disappointment and tragedy at last.
Dear friend, if you are struggling with this issue of obedience, let me encourage you. I can honestly tell you that though it is difficult, it is the road to peace. Once you submit your will to God, He can do in and through you things you never thought possible. Come to Him, broken ones. Give Him your life. He is worth it.