Simple Obedience

Posted on May 19, 2011


I’ve learned the phrase “Simple Obedience” from one of my dearest friends, Sundi Jo Graham. I hear those two words rattling around in my heart and mind often these days. So I asked her to guest blog about it for me and you. Hang on to your spoon………. here we go.

When I was a student at the Table Rock Freedom Center, a 12-month discipleship program located in Branson, Missouri, I heard the words simple obedience time and time again. My director would ask me often, “Are you being obedient in the small things?” Of course I was. Or so I thought.

As with anything, whether it is a job, school, etc., there are certain rules to follow. At TRFC there was a list of rules, many of which I did not agree with. For instance, there was no talking in the study hall room.  You could only have three fruits per day. Lights were out at 10 p.m., not 10:01 p.m. You were allowed one leveled tablespoon of peanut butter per day, not a heaping spoon. Stupid!

I found myself following the rules I deemed appropriate and overlooking the ones I didn’t agree with. I would often ask the entitled “why” question when being reminded of a rule, and the only answer I walked away with was, “simple obedience.” It took me a while to understand it. It wasn’t until I allowed God to do a big heart change that it all started to make sense.

Soon conviction started to eat away at me. I remember lying in bed one night tossing and turning because I had taken more than a tablespoon of peanut butter. It wasn’t until I promised God that I would confess the next day that He finally allowed me to go back to sleep. I woke up the next morning, shaking my head, asking myself, did I seriously just get convicted over peanut butter? God spoke to my heart and said, “It all starts in the small things.”

He was right. Disobedience starts out small. An employee helps herself to some office supplies because after all, she’s worked there for five years. She deserves something. Next thing you know she’s stealing money. A husband starts out with an occasional chat with the girl in the office. He decides one lunch with her won’t hurt, but he doesn’t tell his wife. Now he sits in the counseling office trying to save his marriage. A college student stays out late instead of working on his term paper due tomorrow. He decides just this once he can copy someone else’s. Now he is explaining in a job interview why he was expelled from college for plagiarism.

Simple obedience is a necessity, even when it doesn’t make sense. Even when the command we’re breaking doesn’t seem “that bad.”

As a leader, people are constantly watching me. They are watching my faith walk.

Romans 5:19 says, “for just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.”

 I don’t want to get to Heaven and have to explain why the need to gratify my own desires for a simple moment of pleasure caused my brother to stumble. Do you?

I walked into the director’s office to let her know that the conviction over the peanut butter incident was tugging at my heart. She smiled and when she looked into my eyes, it was that, “you’re finally getting it” look. No one had seen me take the peanut butter. But God did. However, my choice to confess my sin, not only to the director, but also to the fellow disciples around me, increased my integrity and character.

I have a feeling that someday, when Jesus takes me home, we’re going to have a laugh about the day I didn’t level my spoon. Perhaps over a nice breakfast, served with peanut butter and jelly toast of course.

Posted in: faith