On a trip to Austin yesterday, a friend brought along Focus on the Family’s Radio Theater audio production of The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom which we listened to as we traveled. I had read the book many years ago, but I was once more deeply touched by the story of the Ten Boom family and their sacrifice. This family risked all and suffered deeply to obey God and do what they knew was right.
Often I struggle with obedience to do something that I know is right because it is difficult. Corrie must have felt that way many times and the decisions she faced put her life and the lives of those she loved in danger. The family’s decision to help the Jews eventually cost the life of both her father and her sister. But while I listened yesterday, it occurred to me how much Corrie must have suffered again each time she spoke or wrote about her experiences and I wondered how much it cost her to relive that traumatic time.
Of course, Corrie never knew how many people she would touch and how her suffering would glorify God; she could not foresee what God would do, but even if she only helped save one Jew, I think she would have obeyed anyway. Even if all her suffering only helped save those few that were hidden in her room, she was obedient to what she was called to do. Later, she was obedient and willing to suffer again and to do what she felt God compelled her to do by telling and writing the story. This beautiful story of suffering is testimony to obedience.
The subject of obedience has been weighing on my mind a lot lately as I strive to obey and struggle to do hard things, and I am continually amazed at how God uses so many things to speak the same message. In a devotional that I’ve been reading this year by A.W. Tozer titled, Mornings with Tozer, he addresses the subject of obedience and has this to say, “Nothing genuine has been done in a man or woman’s life until his or her will has been surrendered in active obedience….It needs to be said that a world of confusion results from trying to believe without obeying!….A mere passive surrender may be no surrender at all. Any real submission to the will of God must include a willingness to take orders from Him from that time on.”
Of, course all Christians should know that obedience to God would not involve any action or deed that is contrary to scripture. However, there are times in the life of every Christian that there is an inner prompting that compels us to travel a particular path in our life and do what we know to be right regardless of how difficult the task or what the outcome may be. Obedience may not always have the results we expect. This does not always mean that we have stepped out of the will of God – God knows the heart of man and in His sovereignty is able to direct man’s circumstances to guide him in the right paths. My brother once used the analogy that if there is a boulder in our way and God directs us to push on the boulder it does not necessarily mean that God has purposed us to move the boulder, it is possible that God wants us to build our strength by pushing on an immovable object. So just because we have chosen to be obedient to that inner prompting, does not mean we are able to predict the outcome, but obedience is doing what we know in our hearts to be right regardless of the outcome and trusting the Lord to give us the strength we need to do hard things.