No, Daddy: A Lesson in Obedience

Barefoot.  Blithe.  Basking.  Free spirits like mine thrive on beaches.  Sand and shore are God’s invitation to run and play, to wander aimlessly and explore, to drink in the splendor of a sunrise or sunset, peaceful and serene.  Well, almost peaceful.

A little boy appearing 2-3 years old raced up and down the shoreline just out of reach of pounding waves as he loudly snapped, “No, Daddy!”  Every effort of the father to grab his hand was slapped away.  When finally the father did get hold of a hand the child plopped down on his bottom in the sand, refusing to budge.  Another loud, “NO, Daddy!”  The father maintained his grip and pointed down shore.  “This way, son,” he said sternly.  Immediately, the toddler fell flat on his back, screaming, pounding fists and flailing legs, kicking up a cloud of sand.  After a few minutes of mayhem the child lay silent and still, red-faced and spent.  Dad crouched down beside him to talk. 

In a burst of amplified rebellion the boy pounced to his feet and darted straight for the ocean.  The father quickly followed with not even a hint of surprise on his face.  A willfully disobedient child pushing the limits of defiance and danger didn’t catch him off guard.  He’d witnessed this behavior before, probably many times.  Unaware of the danger, the boy catapulted his body into oncoming waves.

The father scooped up his soaked, screaming son out of a torrent of frigid water, hugged the trembling tot tightly to his body, returned him to safety and wrapped him in a beach towel.  As the boy gasped for breath, I heard the father calmly declare, “Enough, son.  I love you but you have to stay close to me and obey me or there will be serious consequences.”

There were people on the beach oblivious to the child’s belligerence and probably others who might have cheered a hard butt-dusting for the toddler.  {I’ll leave it to your imagination which category I fell into.}   I marveled as this little ball of defiance melted into the arms cradling him to keep him warm and safe.  I marveled even more at the father’s great restraint and wisdom.  He knew exactly what the frightened child needed in that moment.  Despite what incredulous onlookers might have applauded, the father offered patience and mercy.

My heart ached as I realized how many times as a grown woman I have acted the part of a defiant toddler.  To be sure, my rebellion is much more sophisticated than that of a tiny tot, but the heart posture is the same.  I may even appear calm on the outside, but inside I can be kicking, whining and demanding.  How many times when God clearly pointed the way, have I responded with, “No, Daddy.”?

Taking the stance, “I want what I want and I want it YESTERDAY!” I’ve chased the wind and wandered dangerously close to treacherous waters.  On at least a couple of occasions I felt my Father’s hand rescue me from raging currents positioned to lap me up and pull me under. 

In the midst of my rebellion my heavenly Daddy exercises patience and demonstrates divine mercy.  He blankets me in his love, gripping me tightly and he will not let me go.   His warning is calm yet clear, if I don’t remain close to him, there could be serious consequences.

 Today my Abba/Daddy reminds me that it is not enough to appreciate his long-suffering, not even sufficient to love him for his protection and be grateful for his mercy.  The Father expects his children to obey.  He knows what is best for us.  He points the way and holds our hand but He will not drag us against our will kicking and screaming.  It is our free will to behave like toddlers and refuse his divine direction.  But oh, how much we will miss in doing so.

The prophet Nehemiah proclaimed:

“Oh Lord, God of heaven, you are a great and mighty God who faithfully keeps covenant with those who LOVE thee and OBEY thy commandments…” Nehemiah 1:5

Three principles jump out at me in this Scripture: 

~Love and obedience go hand in hand. 

~God is great and mighty.  By His sheer might He could coerce his children to obey but He doesn’t. Instead he offers us free will.

~God’s favor rests on those who choose to love & obey.  He is faithful to keep covenant with those who engage in loving obedience.

Our heavenly Daddy is not intent on crushing the free spirit in us.  On the contrary, He delights in bare feet and a blithe disposition.  Yet He loves us enough not to allow us to run amuck in the face of spiritual peril.   What’s more, He longs to bestow blessings and favor upon us when we heed his voice and obey his commands.  Wow.  Now there’s something we can bask in.

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8 responses to “No, Daddy: A Lesson in Obedience

  1. Nicely written; your thoughts are always so well structured yet free flowing and fun. The message is pure, the intent divine. I’m a big Liv’n4Jesus fan. Thanks for yet another jewel of meaningful prose.

  2. obedience is good way 2 kno G’s will:)

  3. Takes me back a few years.
    Aren’t we glad God doesn’t have a belt ? Or does he?
    A wonderful piece !

  4. great story! i could feel the sand in my toes. thank you for sharing.

  5. maria Ledesma

    Thank you so much for another wonderful story. That reminds me of many times I have gone astray, away from my God(father). During those crying painful moments, God revealed his love and patience in ways that words cannot express. I’m so thankful for his faithfulness.

  6. Are you working on a devotional book? If yes, I can’t wait to buy it. If not, why not? You’re a voice for God. Use it, girl.

  7. Hi DiAnna!
    Glad to hear you are enjoying the CA beaches!
    Your article is excellent! Profound powerful comparisons! I could definitely relate to this and had tears rolling down my face as I read it!
    Outstanding writing!

  8. Very vivid and powerful! I could picture it in my mind and it not only made me want to go to the beach, but it really made me think. I appreciate it and look forward to reading more!

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