I have a very bad confession to make as a teacher. I don’t love my students. I know it’s horrible to imagine, but I must say something in my defense. I’m a sub. I see anywhere from 24-600 students a week on the weeks that I work. I don’t even know their names, much less love them. I know a true teacher is supposed to love all the students she comes into contact with, and yes, I’m a certified teacher who is subbing after being laid off, but I don’t. So when I tell my kids (for the day or hour) to do something, it might be for their best interest, but it’s more for my own sanity. The students find out as soon as they walk in the room (or before) that I will not tolerate disobedience. Every command I give (and I give lots) are fiercely barked at them with little or no compassion. Even little kindergarteners know that when Miss Wang is the sub, no one moves, or talks, or smiles, or breathes. Why am I so mean? It’s not because I want these kids to grow up to be responsible adults. I really could care less what they grow up to become. I play dragon lady only because I want MY day to be pleasant, even if I terrify poor six-year old’s to tears in the process.
Growing up, many of my authorities were very self-serving as well and a few even abusive. I soon learned that although they said that what they were asking me to do was for my own good, often they were thinking only of what would make their lives more pleasant. Because punishment for disobedience was often very severe, I didn’t dare upset them. However, I soon began to resent them and it wasn’t long before I began using my creativity to find ways to rebel against them. Of course not ALL of my authorities were self-serving, but the ones who were made enough of an impression on me that I transferred my experience with them to all other authorities, even and especially God.
I grew up spiritually in a church where obedience was stressed beyond all other virtues. It was even taught that without consistent obedience, one could lose his salvation. So I began to see God as this record keeper. Every disobedient act I did was recorded, and if I crossed that line and committed too many sins or if I died without repenting of all my sins, I was doomed to an eternity in hell. Why? Well I reasoned it was probably because God wanted to ensure that his life was pleasant, and disobedient children would make his life unpleasant, so that’s why he doesn’t let disobedient people into heaven. Even though the church I currently belong to has dispelled those lies and I have been embraced with the gospel of grace, I am still wary whenever God tells me to do something.
A couple weeks ago, God spoke to me in a very powerful way regarding obedience. He showed me that obedience to someone who loves me perfectly is a beautiful and liberating thing. Well, that sounded nice, and I consented excitedly. However, as soon as things got hard, I decided that I knew better than God what was best for me, and I took matters into my own hands. To say that I made a mess in doing so is the understatement of the century. All of a sudden I realized that God wasn’t causing my pain. I was. By refusing to do what God had told me to do, I had caused immense pain to myself and those around me. It then dawned on me that maybe God tells us to do things not because he wants to make his life run smoother, but because he loves us so much that he will not tolerate anything that destroys us and stands in the way of the intimate relationship he wants to have with us. When I began obeying him, it was like night and day. My deadly addictions were defeated as they no longer became attractive to me, my relationships with my friends improved, and my dependence on God was so sweet that I almost welcomed my times of weakness so that I can run to his embrace and be comforted by his love. All this because I said, “Yes” to my Father who loves me more than anyone ever could. Even when he asks me to do something painful or difficult, I am excited to obey even though my stomach may be in knots because deep down, I hear my Abba whisper, “I’m asking you to do this because I love you.”