Over the past month I have been contemplating characteristics of biblical leaders and figures. I wanted to understand, or at least have a better understanding, as to the characteristic that God most desires in his servants and leaders. Through the scriptures there are many examples that tell us how we should act, but we also have many character examples within the Old and New Testament. The individuals that I focused on were David, Daniel, and Jesus. In this examination I came across the characteristic of obedience. It is a critical characteristic of the examples mentioned before and required by God for any servant.
David was loved by God for many reasons, however in his early adult life before Saul’s death there are many examples of David’s obedience to God. While being pursued by Saul, Daniel displayed the characteristic of obedience by not slaying Saul when given the opportunity even though he was wronged in such a manner it would appear justifiable (see 1 Samuel 19 -24). Daniel in his early life purposed in his heart to obey god by not partaking of the king’s meat, while his brethren, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, obeyed the Lord by not worshiping Nebuchadnezzar’s idol (see Daniel 1-3). Finally, Christ showed obedience to God the father with his willingness to go to his death on the cross (see Matthew 26-27).
In sharp contrast to these examples we can see God’s judgment against his servant when he was disobedient. In 1st Kings 13, once the man of God had delivered his message to King Jeroboam he was to leave not taking food or drink. The man of God left but was intercepted by a prophet who convinced him to disobey the direction given to him by the Lord. The man of God was slain by a lion for his disobedience.
In my life God has given me guidance, but on one instance in which God gave me a direct answer that relates to the topic of obedience. In 2015 I was contemplating going back into the Marine Corps. I was about to finish my degree in accounting and was dissatisfied with what the work on a day to day basis would be like. I enjoyed my time in the service and was looking back with rose colored glasses. My wife encouraged me to seek the Lord’s guidance in this matter. The two of us began praying and fasting regularly on the topic and I began to reach out to Marine Corps recruiters. Within a month I had a dream. In this dream I was back in California on my porch looking out at my children in the street playing. I then witnessed a bear that towered over the houses coming down the street. I was unable to leave the porch as is I was stuck unable to retrieve my children and bring them to safety and witnessed the bear destroy my children. This was a direct answer to my prayer and not the answer I wanted. I heeded it.
Over the following 5 years I struggled to find a position that I both liked and was a good fit for my family. I regularly looked back and questioned that dream over this period of time. I wanted to do exactly what I had been warned against, but did not do it. I obeyed, even though I found the order to be disagreeable. I had other opportunities that would take me from my local or further from church in general. I refrained from those opportunities as well heeding the guidance from my loved ones and what was given to me from God. Now, I am at a place in life where I am content and blessed to a point I would not have thought possible two years ago, and would not have been had I disobeyed the direction provided by the Lord.
Like Daniel purposed in his heart to not eat the Kings meat, purpose in your heart first to obey God in all things. If I had purposed in my heart to follow Gods direction I may have avoided some discontentment in the 5 year period described above.
It is easy to obey when we receive the answer we are hoping for when we seek the Lord. However, when the guidance from God is not what we desired it is paramount that we obey as the Lord knows what we need far better than we know ourselves.