Obedience doesn't come with options
Because you have satisfied me, God, I promise to do everything you say. I beg you from the bottom of my heart: smile, be gracious to me just as you promised. When I took a long, careful look at your ways, I got my feet back on the trail you blazed. I was up at once, didn’t drag my feet, was quick to follow your orders. The wicked hemmed me in—there was no way out— but not for a minute did I forget your plan for me. I get up in the middle of the night to thank you; your decisions are so right, so true—I can’t wait till morning! I’m a friend and companion of all who fear you, of those committed to living by your rules. Your love, God, fills the earth! Train me to live by your counsel. (Psalm 119:60)
If you are like me, you have probably made a promise or two to God in some moment of great need, then as things got a little less 'intense' in your life, you found yourself wavering a bit on the obedience part of those promises. Just as with King David, I needed to take a long, careful look at my ways - realizing I was not staying on the path God and I had discussed. In short, we call that disobedience. Those long and careful looks at life are not accidental - they are orchestrated by a loving God who desires to see us continuing to take the right steps in the right direction with a right purpose and a right heart-set. What we do next is totally within our control. We can bury the promise, or we can get back up on our feet and be heading down the trail God has blazed for us.
My only hope is that every moment God takes to help me examine my steps is followed with a determined 'step-taking' in the right direction - no feet dragging, no stubborn digging in. This is the key to God's grace. We need to be back on the right path, but anytime we drag our feet, we are in danger of choosing to remain slightly or completely off course. As with David, we need to recognize God's direction is always right for our lives. We can spend a whole lot of time debating that with God but take it from me - it isn't going to change the fact God has determined the best path for us to follow. I may have a thousand other 'options' to that path, some of them quite 'close' to the same path, but none of them will be the path he has determined to be the BEST for me.
Where there are any 'rules', there are also multiple 'commitments' that must be made and kept. Speed limit signs require a commitment to travel at that speed no matter how late we are to our destination. Failure to do so could result in anything from a blown-out tire to the loss of a life. Those 'rules' are there for our safety - we are supposed to 'commit' to them. The truth is 'life's rules' are not just for us - we travel with a whole lot of others committed to the same path. If we fail to commit to follow the desired actions God puts forth for us, we can actually be placing others in danger. If you have ever been on the highway, traveling along at a speed that 'everyone else' is travelling, then looked down at the speedometer only to realize you are posting a speed well in excess of the limit, you have been placed in danger by two things - the influence of others and your inattention to your own actions.
If we are to live in community with each other, we need to realize we all influence each other to some extent AND our inattention to the steps of obedience we have committed to follow could place others in danger. We need each other to remain consistent - one spurring on the other. We need each other to realize when we are drifting off course - one realizing there is a distance beginning to occur that could suggest one of us is not quite on the right course. Commitment to God's purposes can be made in the spur of the moment, but when we start to travel that 'commitment highway', it can be hard to stay within the boundaries that will keep us safe without each other, God's constant care, and the Holy Spirit to remind us of each step of obedience we need to take. Obedience doesn't come with options - it comes with protections. Just sayin!