Partial Obedience is Disobedience
It’s no secret that I am incredibly out of shape, so when God spoke to me last night and instructed me to get up early this Saturday morning and go prayer walk around the church, I knew it wouldn’t be easy for me. Still, I obeyed. I arrived at the church and took one of the prayer pamphlets our church printed to be a guide for prayer walking. As I began to walk, I opened the pamphlet and saw all the things to pray for the first time walking around the church, then all the things to pray for on the second time around the church, and finally what to pray for the third time around the church.
I can do this, I thought. Walking around the church building three times seemed like a good workout. Plus, I was being obedient to God’s direction. So I walked and I prayed. Once around the building…twice around the building…three times around the building, praying for each thing mentioned in prayer guide.
As I approached the end of the third lap, I was seriously huffing and puffing. My legs burned from the unfamiliar rigorous exercise, but I felt good. I’d done it! Pride and a sense of accomplishment welled up inside me. Yes, this was a good idea, I thought. God had known just what I needed as He always did.
Then I closed the guide and saw something on the back page that made me shudder…directions for what to pray on the fourth and fifth times around the building.
Five times around the church building! Are you kidding me?
Suddenly deflated, I limped towards my car. I was already breathing heavy from three times around. No way could I make it five laps. I got into my car and started the engine, fully intent upon leaving. At least I’d done three. That was more than I’d ever done. Surely God would be cool with that. He knew I was out of shape. He knew I couldn’t handle more. He’d understand why I couldn’t complete this task.
Partial obedience is disobedience.
Those words from this week’s Bible study spoke to my spirit. What if Joshua had given up the march around the city after the third lap? What if Moses had given up after speaking to Pharoah once? What if Jesus had gotten to the last supper and declared he’d done enough already in his thirty-three years and wasn’t going to the cross? None of them had given up on the task God had given them.
Didn’t I care about praying for the staff and church leaders? Didn’t I care about praying for missions? But I can do that from my car, my flesh protested. Sit in the car and pray. Driving and praying. Why didn’t we have a ministry for that? Yet those words continued to speak to my spirit—partial obedience is disobedience. Partial obedience is disobedience. I couldn’t deny God had given me this task and to do less than all five laps was only partial obedience to His instructions.
I had to do the other two laps around the church.
Fighting my fleshly laziness and out-of-shape-ness, I got out of the car, reminded God that I would need His strength to do this, then began laps four and five of my prayer walk.
In case you’re wondering, I lived to tell this tale. God gave me the renewed strength and endurance I needed to do what He’d instructed me to do. And I have to admit, I did feel better after completing my task. Getting up early, getting in some exercise and prayer time, that was just what my lazy self had needed today, and God knew that, just as He always knows what is best for me. When I spotted my car this time, I was tired and sweating, but I felt amazing. I was actually smiling.
Even so…I checked that prayer guide one last time, hoping against hope that I hadn’t somehow overlooked another page that instructed me on lap six. And I was thankful there wasn’t.
Partial obedience is disobedience.
Thank you, Lord, for that reminder today.