Recently I visited some friends who have three children under the age of five. Like most young children they don’t always respond to their parents’ requests when first asked. At one point the three year old was lying on the kitchen floor while her mom prepared dinner. She ignored her mom’s calm request to get up so with just a bit of sarcasm in my voice I told the little girl it might be easier and she could avoid trouble if she just did what her mom wanted. She looked at me like I was some strange but harmless creature speaking a language she didn’t understand.
I don’t know why I expect children to obey their parents without hesitation when I have a hard time doing the same. My earthly mother doesn’t make many demands on me these days and I am happy to do anything I can for her. Responding to God’s promptings is much harder. Just listening and understanding what He wants is challenging for me. I am that little girl staring at God blankly as if he were speaking Sanskrit. At some level I understand what I must do but my rebellious will doesn’t want to hear and understand. I can listen carefully and respond as best I can or I can do my own thing and decide to follow only after I’ve reaped the consequences of my earlier inaction.
Parents discipline their children so they learn right from wrong and so they can learn to behave and act appropriately. God is a loving father and wants to teach us too. He gives us freedom to choose right from wrong and to suffer the consequences when we make the wrong choice. Following God’s will isn’t the easy path but it is the one that leads to true joy.