I'm learning a lot about obedience these days. Opportunities to be obedient are abundant and necessary (imagine a world where it was "up to you" to stop on red, etc.) Sure, ultimatly obedience is our choice, but nonetheless the expectation is there.
We obey the laws of the land, our parents, our boss. We should obey our doctor, the food pyramid, and those pesky insurance charts that say "if you're this height, then you should be this weight...otherwise, we'll charge you through the nose." We stand in line where the sign tells us to, and we pay our bills by the designated date.
Is it really all that tough? I mean, we learn early on that green means go, and red means stop. So when that bright light is in front of you, you know what to do, right? Sure, you can choose to ignore, or maybe even get distracted and miss the sign, but its there. You know it. Doing what we're supposed to do isn't all that tough, especially when the signs, voices, and images all around us are reminding us of that which we're supposed to obey.
The lesson I seem to be learning is that it's not always that clear. Sometimes, there are no signs, voices, or images to tell me precisely what my act of obedience should be. Or more importantly, why I should behave, act, or follow a certain path. For instance, its not that tough to teach a child that putting the seatbelt on in the car is not only obeying the law, but smart for lots of reasons. But aren't there times in life when we're compelled to obey, but the reasons don't seem so smart? Or the reasons don't seem to be there at all? In fact, maybe the reasons seem, well, not so smart.
Put yourself in Abraham's shoes. What do you think was going through Abraham's mind as he led his son up the mountain to prepare for the sacrifice, even allowing Isaac, the "target" of his affection, to help with the preparations? Were there doubts? Questions? Was there pleading with God? Would there be if YOU were wearing those shoes? "God, I want to obey you, but does this seem all that smart?"
Nowhere are we promised obedience is easy. But God expects it. Certainly its not a popular notion in an era where making your own rules to live by is a badge of honor.
Have you had a mountaintop/altar experience like Abraham? It will look radically different than Genesis 22, but the choice will be the same. Obey...or not.
"Do what you know you should do, and you will know what to do. God clarifies in the midst of obedience, not beforehand."
-Erwin McManus, "Seizing Your Diving Moment"