This morning the alarm went off, I dragged my aching body out of bed, rummaged through the floordrobe, fumbled my shoe laces into some form of bow and we set off for our daily jog. As of yesterday this our new morning routine.
We stepped outside to the cool morning air and the trees gentle swayed as they cheered us on. The sun was slowly moved up the massive blue sky and as almost every morning in Lilongwe, it promised a beautiful day.
Between gasping breaths we discussed the concept of joyful obedience and the many amazing times we have been able to demonstrate joyful obedience to God together. These included choosing to settling in Malawi, choosing to supporting our family members, choosing to take leadership roles at church and many others. The decisions required discernment but not weighty trail, and our obedience is life-giving and joyful!
I asked Humphreys a question that I have pondered forever and feared to ever voice. “Is being JOYFULLY obedient a choice we make or is it dependent on the circumstances of obedience?”.
I feared he would say that it is only in easy decisions that its possible to be joyful. I feared him pointing to the abounding suffering in our world and asking with a hint of uncharacteristic sarcasm ‘do you really think joyful obedience is real in those circumstances?’.
He simply answered ’I think we can always choose joyful obedience’.
Paul suggested that he also believed in choosing joyful obedience in Philipians 4 when he talked about the secret to contentment in all situations, which is that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.
So, I made a new resolve, that through the strength of Christ, and knowing joy doesn’t necessarily mean happiness, I will always choose joyful obedience.
Tomorrow when the alarm goes off we will most likely arise from obedience, but my prayer is that by God’s strength, it will be joyful obedience.
Joyful obedience is not moved by circumstance but is constant because the one know we belong to is unchanging. Therefore joyful obedience is not motivated by seeking approval from God but because we are already approved by God we respond joyfully. In joyful obedience that’s where we experience change of heart and transformation. For to truly experience God even in the most difficult and unpleasant moments is to trust in the one who is unchanging and the source of all joy. I choose joyful obedience not because am the source of joy but because Christ is joy and his joy gives me strength to respond joyfully to his call.
And then when God calls us to hard jobs, frustrating tasks, fruitless efforts, difficult terrain, exhausting days, disheartening outcomes and conflict-filled rooms, my prayer is that we will pursue Him with joyful obedience.