I visited some friends this evening who have a new resident in their home — a puppy! To those of you who are dog lovers, you will fully understand the statement my friend made this evening as she held onto an armful of squirming fur, “I just fell immediately in love.” Yes, it was most evident indeed — that puppy was one greatly loved pooch and would be for all her days in her new home.
As I watched the continued demonstrations of love for this canine wonder, I could not help but think about God and His love for you and me. However, too often, we grab hold of a great distortion of God’s love. It seems, we sometimes feel that we have to earn God’s love. We must obey Him in all things or He might not love us anymore. Having those out of focus thoughts about the love of God can make us shrink back from Him rather than cling joyfully to Him.
But, mustn’t we obey Him? Yes, we are instructed to obey God in all things. Of course, no one is perfect and we all sin, but we always have before us a way of repentance that brings us immediately back into right relationship with our Heavenly Father. When we sin, does God love us less? No. He loves us the same at all times. If God loves us even when we disobey, then why do we need to be so concerned with obedience?
Questions like the above bring me back to my friend and her puppy. She must teach her dog how to obey. The dog is indeed learning but still has a way to go in knowing what is expected of her. When she gets it wrong, my friend still loves her dog completely. Even so, it’s vital that the dog learns to obey for her own protection and joy. For example, if a car is coming, the dog must obey the command to “come.” Ignoring this instruction could bring dire consequences. It’s no different in our relationship to our Heavenly Father.
God doesn’t give us instructions to obey, as a way for us to keep His love; He gives us instructions to obey, to keep us safe and filled with His joy. The words of a favorite hymn come to my mind, “For there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
God has a right path for us to follow, totally because He loves us. The consequences of following His path will be joy, peace, wisdom, and courage to get us through all our days — or — we may choose the wrong path if we so desire, but like the puppy who refuses to “come,” we might get run over by life’s troubles, bringing unrest and absence of peace, that could be so easily avoided.
It’s really true the words to that hymn — “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”