A Will To Obey

by Shelley Noonan


“What your rebellious nature needs, my daughter, is a strong will to obey, and you are the one who trains that will with right and obedient action.” — Mabel Hale, Chapter 5, “The Strength of Obedience”

“I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” 
— Psalm 40:8, ESV
The secret of true obedience…is the clear and close personal relationship to God. All our attempts after full obedience will be failures until we get access to His abiding fellowship. It is God’s holy presence, consciously abiding with us, that keeps us from disobeying Him….The secret of a true obedience is the return to close and continual fellowship with God. 
— Andrew Murray
How do we train our child in obedience?

I have a compliant child, who senses very keenly when our relationship has been disrupted due to his disobedience.  This child cannot stand to have been the cause of even a bit of my disappointment.  Keeping our relationship pleasant, unhindered, unstrained is usually enough motivation for obedience.  This child has a strong “will to obey.” Chances are you have a child or children however, like I do, for whom this is not the case.  Some even seem to feed off constant strife.  Some just seem to be born fighters. So how do we cultivate a “will to obey?”  How do we train our children to find “delight” in obedience, in doing God’s will?

The Secret

Perhaps the secret is, as Andrew Murray says, a “clear and close personal relationship,” a relationship that is so enjoyable and  and beneficial that the child does not want there to be a break in that fellowship. I think of what sweet fellowship Adam and Eve must have had with God, walking with Him in the garden.  I think of what sweet fellowship the Son has with the Father, what amazing oneness they experience, and how painful it must have been for Christ, having taken all our sin upon him, to experience that separation from God that is caused by our sin.  I believe this caused him more anguish than the physical pain of his crucifixion.

Our Model

Of course, we are sinful people.  We cannot truly understand fellowship unmarred by sin.  But we can strive towards that goal.  We can see the beauty and the joy of the fellowship between the Father and Son as described in Scripture.  We can feel His pain on the cross.  We can — and should — desire that same fellowship, which will one day be fulfilled in heaven, and shrink from anything that would break that fellowship. And our relationships with our children should model that relationship between the Father and the Son.

The Plan

Though we do so imperfectly, it is our parent/child relationship that is the introduction to our children of the relationship they will have with God (just as our marriages are to model the relationship between Christ and the church). Strive to build a relationship with your daughter (your children) that is so valuable to her (them) she (they) can’t abide the thought of broken fellowship.  This will create a “will to obey.”

Share your ideas for creating and nurturing this relationship with your daughter (children).

Barb is first and foremost a Daughter of the King.

“Not because of who I am, but because of what you’ve done.   Not because of what I’ve done, but because of who you are.”

She gives all glory and praise to God for what HE has done in her life and in the life of her family.

She has been married to her Mr. Steady and chef for twenty-one years. They home disciple and educate their four children — three boys ranging in age from 17 to 5, and one daughter Katie (10) who blogs with Barb on their new site, “Training our Daughters,” which just launched this September.  They are excited about embarking on this keepers-at-home journey with other moms and daughters.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jacqueline @ Deeprootsathome.com October 14, 2011 at 10:05 am

Nailing down that it isn’t just being strong and making yourself DO right is excellent teaching; rather it is abiding in the Word (Jesus) from whence we get our resolve, will, and strength! Thanks Barb, and Shelley!

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Shelley October 14, 2011 at 10:34 am

I often times relate this to the process of teaching reading. At first we teach phonics and the new reader is bound by the rules of phonics. But after awhile, they become fluent in their reading by internalizing the rules. They follow the rules of phonics because that is how it works. With our children we set up the “rules” (hate that word) and eventually they understand the why and get a grasp of Who they are pleasing. They are being obedient to the Lord out of love not just obedient to heir parents.

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Barb S. October 14, 2011 at 8:06 pm

I LOVE that analogy. Eventually, we don’t really have to think about it. I tell my children…you need to learn to hear my voice and obey me now, so that you can learn to hear the Spirit’s promptings and obey Him when I am not here to tell you what to do.

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Amy October 13, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Beautiful words spoken in wisdom and truth. I also love thinking about what the relationship was like between Adam and Eve and God. It is exciting to know that one day we will have that chance to know! Pure sweetness….pure joy! I appreciated these words on obedience…I am happy and blessed to have read them. Thank you! 😀

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Shelley October 13, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Couldn’t agree more. I have been blessed by reading this post.

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