a woman swinging a kid by the hands on the shore
The Father's Heart

A Parent’s View of Obedience

I sit watching you again. My strong-willed, smart, curious son. You are deciding whether or not to trust me…again. How many times have we been through this same place? Going around in circles it seems. Back into the wilderness of testing. More natural consequences. More frustration and anger on both our parts. More difficult navigation of our relationship. Once I win your trust, I know you will be fiercely loyal. But until then, everything hangs in the balance.

Obedience is not something I demand out of arrogance or a desire to control you. A command is simply the pathway. They are like directions. If you follow them, on a very practical level, you will get where you want to go. If you do not follow them, you end up somewhere else. There is only one path. One gate. One way to life and very few find it. Do not let the others confuse you. Love your life enough to let your life go in exchange for mine in you. It’s your choice. But it is the only way.

So…Where are you now?


Are you on this pathway or are you off on your own, trying something different, something new, some other way? I know exactly where you are. I want you over here. Near me. Simpatico. Understanding one another in heart and intention. I miss you.

You know, the rules are not just rules. They are not meant to limit you but to allow you to expand into all you were meant to be. It is your disobedience that limits you, but you cannot see that now. And before you blame me for punishing you, understand. It’s not that I am punishing you. I have shown you the way to life. It is you who are rejecting it. It is I who am constantly reminding you to repent, a word that you have come to see as “judgmental” and “harsh” when it is actually a lifeline. It is the only way back to the way you were going before all this doubt. You must come through the right gate. You must come back to me and let me cover you with forgiveness and mercy. I paid a great cost so you could be free. Don’t be entangled again ok?

It’s not that there is life in the rules themselves. That’s just superstition. That’s empty religion. It’s that the laws lead to me, and from every trespass of those laws, you must repent and turn back to trust in me, because those things are not me. And I want you to be WITH me. I am moving in all the right ways. Come and learn from me. I am moving in justice, mercy, rightness, respect, honor, love, beauty, creativity, hope, joy, peace, faithfulness, and penultimate goodness.

Obedience is how you find all that.

Until you can really see that enough to live it out, obedience (staying in the safety of my boundaries) is your safety, until you can see through a lifetime of cautionary tales, how the other ways lead to death. Simple obedience is a way for me to simplify your experience of life and to protect you. It’s not that I mind explaining the “why” to you, but in many instances, you are not mature enough to handle the explanation quite yet. It would only weigh on you and place a burden of knowledge too great for you. Sometimes, when you beg me and I do give you the explanation, it seems unfair, unjust, even cruel to you and the others. Remember. I am none of those things. Don’t you know me by now? I am the very definition of love, and I have poured it all out on you.

Can you receive it? Even for a moment?

And there it is. You doubt my love for you. You doubt that I really do want the most full experience of life for you. You know, you are not in competition with anyone for my love? I don’t run out of resources I need to take care of you. If you need anything, just ask! I have everything I need to make you completely and utterly fulfilled. And if you obey me, you will know joy, and full and abundant life.

Still, you lie. Still, you hide. You rationalize the lying, the hiding. You tell me you were afraid of getting hurt and punished. Well. What if love were stronger than fear? What if my love were stronger than your fear? What if my discipline was the pathway to life-would you endure it then? My son, hear me cry it from the depth of my heart.


I only discipline those I love. Why else would I take the attention and time to shape your heart in a furnace of purification, in suffering, in endurance, in persecution, in rejection of man? I want to win you to me, but not through bribery. I want to win your affection and loyalty by your choice. By your own will choosing that I am better, that I know better, that I am higher. This is your love for me as I desire it. It is a life laid down in obedient love sitting at my feet, wanting to learn from me, to yield, not push. Stop hiding from my discipline. Pursue it with persistence, like you are hunting for that ball you lost in the woods. Run toward me as a child and let all the weight of you fall onto me as I lift you and swing you around in the air, holding you tight. Laugh! Feel the wind in your hair. Feel the synergy of the momentum, us swinging together, moving as one and united–you as an extension of me. You in my arms, completely protected. Do you think I would let you go?


You don’t need to be afraid to obey. I am your biggest fan. And you know if I tell you to do it, even if it seems painful at the time, I will not leave you alone, but will come to you as you work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Stop lying. Stop coveting. Stop wishing for what you do not have. Give radically. Pour out your gifts to the poor. Sell all you have and follow me. Go and disciple the nations.

And step by little step, you will realize that little step of obedience was the stepping stone that led to the next stepping stone of obedience, and the next, and the next, until radical obedience does not even feel hard anymore, but very natural indeed, because you have seen it accurately now as the pathway to fullness of life. You will run in the path of my commands because you are truly free.

Let them penetrate truth through all the trappings and false wisdom of this world. Believe in the work of the cross and be reconciled to me. And be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, who will teach you my word, remind you what I said, and tell you what is to come. He will guide you into all truth. He will teach you how to live like an obedient son, whose goal is simply to do the will of the Father, because, though it may feel like death at the time, obedience is the pathway that leads to life.

I know. It doesn’t seem like a restriction of your “primal” desires and natural inclinations and impulses could lead to freedom. I know. It doesn’t seem that getting up today and trying to follow me again could mean faithful endurance and victory. But it does. You’ll see. There’s a deeper truth under all those lies and apathy. You were made in my image for glory! Wonderfully made because I wanted you here, My glory is to bask and glory together in this beautiful world and the world after this one. Do you think I would set you free and then force you back into slavery? No! I intend for you to live free! I bought you back from darkness so you could live as a child of the light, not as your own god, but as perfectly submissive to me, and joyfully free, because I desire your freedom!

Not sure how to get there from here? I have given you my commandments. They have not changed. Start with the first ten and obey them from the heart like my son Jesus taught you. Learn what it means that I desire mercy, not sacrifice. Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a flowing stream! Jesus paid so you could be free. Now run in the path of my commands! Run!

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