Obedience often precedes desire

This is the first of a blog series called “Running the Race.” Most Thursdays, I will be sharing what God has and is teaching me through my running experiences. Even if you aren’t a runner or athlete (honestly, I’m not either!), I hope you find encouragement to tackle your challenges with Jesus by your side.

Last year I completed a three-month journey to become a runner. Spanning from August to November, little by little my endurance and strength grew until I am now able to run for half an hour. (Read more about my journey here.)

This exercising plan was about obedience. In fact, there were many (MANY) days that I didn’t want to run. It wasn’t convenient, the weather didn’t always cooperate or I wasn’t feeling that great. But, I did it anyway. God had placed this call on my life to run, and so I did. It wasn’t my desire to get in shape or lose weight or look better in my jeans that kept me running. It was a commitment to obey God no matter what. Eventually, as time went on, I realized I was actually looking forward to running.

After reaching my goal, December hit, and prioritizing the time to continue this commitment became harder than it was when I was working my way up to 30 minutes. The last two weeks of December in particular, with Christmas and New Year’s, were a complete bust.

And, now I’m back to very little desire to drive into town to run in the gym, since it’s too cold and muddy to run at our house.

Even though I don’t want to, I’m going to. I will again choose obedience, and let God work on my desire.

Each of us has an area of our life that we KNOW we need to change. Spiritually, there are way too many of us Christians who know we need to get into God’s Word everyday, spend time with Him in prayer, hide His Word in our hearts and be actively teaching our children God’s precepts (not just expecting Sunday School teachers and pastors to do it). ┬áBut, when it comes down to it, we don’t make time, we make excuses. We’re too busy. It’s not convenient. Bottom line: we choose to disobey.

I remember in college I became very convicted that I was not spending daily time with God. Oh, I knew I should be reading the Bible and praying, but it was easier to just go to church and talk a good game than actually making time to become what God wanted me to be. Finally, I picked up my Bible one morning and began to read. I actually prayed and told God that I didn’t want to be doing this and was only reading this chapter to get Him off my back. But, I kept reading one chapter each morning because I knew it was the right thing to do. Eventually it became a habit, and God began stretching my heart.

I remember opening my eyes from sleep several months later, and the first thing I felt compelled to do was grab my Bible to see what God had to say to me that day. I jumped down from my loft bed (dorm-room style), and flipped open the Word of God. As I devoured the text, I suddenly realized what God had done. He changed my heart. He gave me the desire, when I had, ever so begrudgingly, chosen to obey.

God can and will do the same for you, where He is calling you to do what He says.

Take that first step of faith, even if you don’t feel like it.

Choose to obey.

Attitude adjustments

Days come in parenting when every decision and request is met with whining, complaining and defiance. Instead of responding with gentleness and a godly spirit, I often meet my children head-to-head with an equally bad attitude.

That’s why this passage in Philippians encouraged me so much this week.

Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death – even to death on a cross.

For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow – of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth – and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

– Philippians 2:5-11

I am called to make my attitude like that of Jesus. I cannot make anyone else’s attitude change, only my own. God has called me, as his child and as a mom to the children He has entrusted to me.

So how do I do it? How do I adjust my attitude and become who Christ Jesus intends?

1. Recognize God’s authority and position (v. 6).
Jesus, being equal to God the Father, didn’t take advantage of His standing. Even more so, as His daughter I should not seek preference or expect to get what I want. God is in charge. He is the ultimate authority of my life, whom I owe my very life, and God deserves my respect in every way. He is my God, not the other way around.

2. Empty myself of every form of selfishness and embrace God’s plan (v. 7).
Jesus left heaven and gave up His rightful standing as King of Kings to become a slave of the flesh and walk with us on Earth. He left His home to secure mine. He willingly emptied Himself for my sake. In response, God calls me to separate myself from the selfishness that too often rules my life. He wants to fill my life with purpose and meaning, but I must first empty myself of what I think is good so that God can give me His very best. God’s plan is worth giving all of me.

3. Obey God no matter the cost (v. 8).
Obedience proves devotion. Jesus laid down His life in obedience to His Father. He carried that cross to Golgotha, not because of the soldiers who were cruelly forcing him forward, but because He chose to humble Himself and follow God’s redemptive plan. He was obedient to death. I need to get over myself and do what God says. Christ deserves my everything, and I need to live in the reality and power of His sacrificial obedience.

4. Worship the Exalted Savior (v. 9-10)!
God has given Jesus the name above all names! At the name of Jesus every knee will bow. All people of the Earth will one day recognize the Lordship of Christ. Praises will ring from every nation, tribe and tongue in worship of our Savior! I want to start now! I was made to worship Jesus, and doing so will transform my attitude.

5. Share the message that Jesus Christ is Lord (v. 11).
Just as every knee will bow, every tongue will confess Jesus is Lord and bring glory to God in doing so. When I share God’s love and sacrifice, pointing people to a relationship with Jesus, I honor and glorify God. Telling others about Jesus reminds me of when He rescued me. It puts my life in perspective.

I know I have work to do in each of these areas! Often, my struggles come in #2 as I lay down my wants, and do what God wants. It’s easy to be selfish, but God calls me to live selflessly.

Where do you need an attitude adjustment?