There are times when we are moved by the thoughts of so-called ordinary people-not theologians, celebrities, politicians or scholars but ordinary people whose profound thoughts and observations hit us in the gut and make us wonder, where did he or she get that from? These are the thoughts that open our eyes to see how someone has been dealing with a particular issue, and more importantly how we can also deal with issues that would require us being obedient.
I tell a story of a lady I met at Dorsey Center this past Monday. The Dorsey Center is a multi-purpose center which provides a range of services to those in need. Christ Church is actively involved in serving hot meals to the less fortunate in our community on the second Mondays of each month. I try to join our dedicated and wonderful parish volunteers whenever I can. My role is really simple: stay out of the way of the ladies, taste the fried chicken to make sure it's great and then serve the fried chicken to our patrons when they ask me to. It is one of those places where obeying directions matters a lot!!
While I was serving the fried chicken on Monday, a lady with a child came by. She looked at the sumptuous fried chicken that I was serving and then said, "no, I cant have fried chicken." "why not?" I asked. "For medical reasons I don't want to have it. I prayed to God that I stay away from fried chicken today." "Good for you." I responded. And then she said to me "I can have it, but obedience is the key." Woow!! Obedience is the key!! That hit me in the gut. At that point all I could do was to thank her, not only for her desire to be obedient but the recognition that that is the key. Although, I did not ask which medical condition she may be dealing with, I was simply thankful that of her inclination to be obedient "Obedience is the key" she said.
Thinking about obedience reminded me of the story of King Saul and the Prophet Samuel. The king was tasked to destroy the Amalekites "Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys." However, Saul will later tell the prophet that he kept the best sheep and cattle, and all that was good with the intention to sacrifice them to God. The prophet's words in response to Saul's action were sharp and pointed "Obedience is better than sacrifice...."
Living a life of sacrifice is often about living as we wish and insisting on our rights no matter what. The life of obedience, however, is one where our awareness of God's grace opens the door for us to develop an abiding intimacy with God predicated on the fact that all our life is dependent on Him. And that His all sufficient grace provides more than we need or can ever imagine. Only if we will obey.
Obedience is Key, she said. Obedience motivates us to embrace our own limitations, not with spite but with joy. Obedience provides more than enough reason for us to live gracefully-we listen, not only to others but ultimately to God.
And when we listen, we decline all that may not be good for us, even a free piece of fried chicken.