Being a Christian is a lot of hard work, and uphill battle. Obedience to Christ is sometimes difficult, uncomfortable and unpopular.
Obeying God has been a struggle for my entire life. I'm a contrary soul with too many questions, too many passions and a short attention span. These things are not conducive to a life of faith.
And yet, I still love Jesus and know He loves me. When all else fails, the love of Christ constrains me. Love for Jesus motivates my obedience, prompts me to be forgiving, inspires me to live how a Christian should.
"I just want my children to be happy," many mothers say.
My mother never said that. She said, "I want my children to be holy."
Thanks a lot, Mom. And I mean that sincerely, not sarcastically.
Are holiness and happiness mutually exclusive? Not always. Sure, my mother wanted me to be happy. But more than that, she wanted me to have the inner fortitude to make the right choice even if it came at great personal cost. She was more concerned with the happiness of my immortal soul than the fleeting happiness of this passing world.
As a child, I did not appreciate this. And that's a huge understatement. But when I see an adult desperately struggling to obey Christ, to build the habit of obedience, I'm deeply grateful that I learned obedience as a child. In that regard, the life of faith comes easier for me.
Jesus tells us to "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you." (St. Matt. 6:33). Initially it may seem difficult to obey God, but in the end, the long-lasting rewards of obedience far outweigh the temporary highs of disobedience.
One of the main issues that hinders my obedience is worry. I worry about my managing my big family, surviving this scary economy, being prepared for natural disasters. Which is to say, I want to obey God as long as I get to control what happens. Doesn't that sort of defeat the point?
The paradox here is that even if I think I'm controlling everything that is happening to me, I'm really not. It's basically a lot of wasted energy.
There's a better way to live. Jesus tells us in St. Matthew 6:34: "Therefore, do not be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Easier said than done, right? And yet, I think this is the most important key to obedience. Trust and obedience go hand-in-hand. My children trust me to lead them safely across a busy street. I want to trust my Heavenly Father the same way---to place my hand in His and let Him lead me across the busy street of life.
The hill only seems difficult when I let go of my Father's hand. So long as I'm hanging onto Him, nothing will happen except what He knows is best for me.
I trust Him. Do you?