Joy in Obedience
Reflection from Fr. Jacob Bearer
Reflection by Vicki
I do not like being told what to do.
It feels like it strips me of all my freedom and “obedience” just feels like a nice way to say “enslaved.”
But I am learning that so much of my problem with being obedient has come from my attitude. I am not actually enslaved, I have enslaved myself with my false idea that there is no other option but to obey.
Obedience is not slavery, it comes out of choice.
The truth is, we have the freedom to disobey, because we are not slaves. Once we realize this, obedience becomes a beautiful act of love - an act of freely surrendering ourselves to another.
There is great joy in that.
Father Jacob explained in the video that the root of the word “obedience” means “to listen.” If I am to hear the voice of God, know Him and follow Him, I have to listen.
I’ve learned this Lent that I am a bad listener. I noticed myself looking for ways to fill my prayer time - reading, writing, listening to a song or a podcast - anything other than sitting still and silent and listening for the Father. It’s hard enough being obedient to God when I do know what he’s asking, but if I’m not listening, I am only making it harder. If I’m not making the effort to listen (and sometimes it is a great effort,) then I don’t know the difference between what I think God is asking of me and what He is actually asking of me. When I really listen, I discover that what God is asking me always comes down to this: “Let me love you.” A shepherd's whole life is built around the good of his sheep; he would not let harm come upon them and everything he does he does for their ultimate benefit. If the Lord is my shepherd, if he is my Father, he has only my good in mind.
In obedience, we are showing great trust in our Good Shepherd.
The more deeply we come to know God, the more we know him to be infinitely trustworthy and infinitely good.
“My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)
When we really listen and we come to know the loving voice of the Father, there is so much joy to be found in following Him.
A few questions to ponder in your mind, in your prayer or in your journal.
What sort of feelings surround the word “obedience” for you? Where do these feelings come from? Are they rooted in truth?
St. Josephine Bahkita has a truly incredible story of slavery, freedom and obedience. What attitudes enslave you to false ideas? What attitudes would give you greater freedom in the truth?
What keeps you from listening to God? How might you make space to listen more attentively?
Do you think of God as a Good Shepherd and Father? In what ways have you seen this truth in your life?
How has God been asking you to let Him love you lately? How will you practice joyful obedience to His request?
A Song for your Soul
A Friend to Walk With
St. Josephine Bahkita
You have our total good in mind as you ask us to love and be loved.
Be patient with us as we learn to listen to your gentle voice and find true joy in obedience to You, our Good Shepherd.
St. Josephine Bahkita, pray for us.