John 15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
Obedience is hard for a number of reasons. The very word brings connotations of force and the strong overpowering weak, for some, it brings memories of abuse. But that is not the kind of obedience I am referring to. Obedience to God is not about being overpowered and being forced to do things against my will. I want to obey the Lord. If I am to grow in grace I need to obey the Lord. I will always be obedient to something or someone. The way I live my life is determined by who I obey. The thing or person I obey is the kingdom I walk in. If I am to live in the Kingdom of God then I must walk in obedience to God.
Another reason obedience is hard is because there are so many options. There are so many things demanding my attention. I want to obey You, Lord. I want to hear Your voice. But hearing Your voice is so hard because You often speak in such a still, small voice. And other voices are so loud and demanding — and, I must add; appealing. They offer me immediate gratification. But obedience to You is necessary if I want to grow in grace; if I want to live the eternal life of Your kingdom.
It is my desire to be like the flower who obeys the sun, turning its head in the direction of the sun.
To turn my ear toward the Lord is to be like that flower. Obedience requires discipline. I need to create a space in my soul where God can speak. Disciplines of the faith are the ways to carve out that space. The disciplines of silence and solitude are like a hammer and chisel to carve into the hard stone that has been built up inside my soul; that keeps me from hearing the voice of God.