Thinking that this would be the final chapter of this book, I sought the Lord for the most important principle on which to conclude with: a principle that has changed my life, and that hopefully, will change your life as well.
What the Lord told me was a complete surprise. In the days since He first told me that this chapter needed to be about the blessings of obedience (submission and the like), He has revealed to me so much more that I hope to be able to fully share with you in this chapter. A revelation that I believe could literally change the course of your life, if that is, you take it to heart and seek to obey, no matter the cost.
The opening verse needs to be read again: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
To me, love is the key. If we love the Lord, it will show Him (and others who are watching), by how determined we are to obey Him. Now stop and think on that thought for a while.
Now, if our obedience shows our love for Him, our lack of obedience, or disobedience, shows Him (and others) the contrary. This means that disobedience says we do NOT love the Lord. Are you getting it?
With this principle well established for us to build upon, the Bible tells us clearly that we are each to submit to the authorities over us. If we are married, we are to submit to our husbands. If we are not married (and live at home), we are to submit to our parents. If we have parents who are still alive, we are to honor them. If we have a boss, we are to submit and be obedient to them. If we are in school, our obedience is to our teachers, our principal, etc. All of us live in a country where there are laws: traffic, public, state, local; the list of those in authority over us is endless.
The Lord tells us that for us to be blessed we MUST be obedient to each and every one of these authorities, whether or not we agree and whether or not these authorities are good and kind or even cruel. If you are still not convinced, read these two verses carefully:
“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities for there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.
Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.
For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same . . .” (Romans 13:1–3).
“Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God” (1 Peter 2:18–20).
You know, when I read that last verse I understood just WHY I have been so adamant and so careful to be obedient every moment of my life. Favor. Submission finds favor with God. I do not know about you, but what I want in my life is to be surrounded by God’s favor. This is how we live the abundant life—heaven on earth.
As I mentioned in the last paragraph, there is something that I really want to expound upon in this chapter and this is the reason why I said that I am “careful” to be obedient every moment of my life. Right now, I am flying home, my 17th flight (one more to go) after touring Asia, the Far East, or the Orient, as many call it. Because I have been flying extensively, I have heard and seen the safety instructions until I think that I can give the demonstration myself! However, I still pay attention and listen since I want to be in obedience to the authority of the airline, the captain, and the flight attendant. You may think this is idiotic and takes this principle of obedience too far. But if I choose to ignore this level of authority, how far will I take it—to ignore it until I walk right out of the boundary of God’s favor? I am not sure how wide the boundaries of His favor are; therefore, I am very careful on every level since I don’t want to risk stepping out of it.
In all the chapters I have written in this book (and the other book I have had the pleasure of writing and living through), the Lord has brought situations into my life as examples of the principles He teaches me, in order that I will share and teach them to you. Though we have really powerful women in ministry and in leadership, just recently the Lord has brought to my attention the fact that so many, so many, do not walk in obedience, and it spills over into every area of their lives. The truth is, if you are under someone’s authority and you usurp that authority by doing what you want to do rather than what the person in authority asks you to do, you are in rebellion.
“For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king” (1 Samuel 15:23).
Rebellion is living dangerously, and I want no part of it. As a matter of fact, I don’t even want to associate with it. On this very lengthy trip, I ended up actually parting ways with a member of my women’s ministry who started out traveling with me, because she was continually insubordinate. Insubordination is not the same as rebellion, although I had thought for years that it was.
Insubordination is when we take the authority that belongs to someone over us. It could be, and many times is in marriage— when a woman takes charge in their marriage and rules over her husband. In homes today, children are insubordinate almost from infancy. Children are who are really in charge while the mother and/or father submits to their whims and demands. What a tragedy!
“O My people! Their oppressors are children, and women rule over them. O My people!” (Isaiah 3:12).
“The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother” (Proverbs 29:15).
By taking authority over the one who really should be in authority over us (remember that all authority is established by God?), then we are in idolatry. Who is our idol? Ourselves. We put ourselves forth as the one to worship. Let’s not forget that this is the first sin, the sin that created the demonic world that battles against us every day. Lucifer wanted to be equal or above God, and thus, sin was established. Things have never been the same since that time. Insubordination, which is idolatry, is something we must run from and avoid at all costs.
Though I would really need an entire chapter, and probably a book, to really deal with the principle of insubordination and the counterpart of honoring parents, let me just say that in the United States, we are so far off when dealing with elderly parents. Grown children today treat their parents with such little honor and respect it really makes me grieve and literally makes me sick. I will tell you that I paid a very high price to continue to honor my parents before they died: a high price. (But that needs to be another book and I am not yet ready to touch on that pain.) But I would do it again in a heartbeat if I had to go through it again. If you have grown parents, I warn you to be very careful how you speak to them, speak about them, and how you treat them.
“Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the LORD your God gives you” (Deuteronomy 5:16).
“For God said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,’ and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH’” (Matthew 15:4).
And let me say that there is no excuse for treating your parents as if they were your child; not even when they are plagued with dementia (such as Alzheimer’s). You can still honor what you know they would want, just like women who begin to submit to their husbands who are gone. Honor them by making decisions for them since you know what they would want if they could express it to you. And don’t make the excuse that your decision is for their good when that’s just an excuse to hide behind, because God sees your heart.
The wisdom and understanding I’m sharing with you came by going through it when I did it all wrong, and then finding the path to righteousness as I sought the Lord. When my father was hospitalized, he was told that he needed a pacemaker. He very kindly told the doctors (and his family) that he had lived a long life and that that he didn’t want one. Unfortunately, I had his “power of attorney,” and with that power, I was a target for my siblings (I am one of eleven children) to push me to make the decision against my father’s wishes “since he obviously couldn’t choose for himself” they all agreed, but this was well before dementia ever hit him. I regrettably signed the papers for him to get the pacemaker.
For the next few years, I watched my father die a slow death to the point that he spent the last nine months of his life bedridden. My siblings didn’t witness his suffering since they lived states away and some in other countries. So due to what I’d done, I watched my hero (who was once a famous and talented artist) not be able to sign his name or feed himself. To date, it had been the biggest mistake of my life when I signed the papers for that pacemaker and dishonored my father. I paid a high price for my insubordination.
Yet as we all know, God is a God of second chances. Within five years, I had my chance to redeem myself and to learn a very hard lesson about honoring a parent, no matter the cost. First, I had to repent to my mother regarding dishonoring my father. She, too, had to suffer and care for him and to watch him die slowly, painfully and with horrible humiliation. Though God did use that time for good (Romans 8:28) because my mother helped as one of the editors of A Wise Woman book, working with me when Erin revised it. And although she said that the principles were for other women, not for her, God changed her. Then He gave her another chance to be the wife that I know she had probably always wanted to be for my father. She was able to redeem what the locusts had eaten. God is awesome. Thank you, Erin.
Let me now continue to share about my second chance. It came in the year 2000, five years after my dad died. My mom became weak and sickly but she did not want to go to the doctor. She had always been like that. As a matter of fact, after my father died, while I was taking care of all the insurance paperwork, the insurance company asked when my mother had died. I told the lady that she didn’t; she was still living. The reason she believed she’d died was that her insurance records showed that the last time she had seen a doctor was in 1959, which was the day my youngest sister was born—a full thirty-nine years without seeing a doctor.
So as my mother became more ill, just as before, I began to receive a lot of pressure from my siblings, insisting that I had to get my mother to a doctor—I refused. Within weeks, my mother began to speak to me about “when I die . . .” She told me honestly and very calmly that either Jesus would heal her or she would go to heaven. No doctor.
No matter what it cost me, I was determined to honor my mother and to obey. Just a few short weeks later, while I was cleaning her room, my mother died in her own bed, no doctor. I stood there listening, but she didn’t take another breath. Calmly, I called the funeral home. (My mother and I had made prior arrangements together when we had gone there for my father’s arrangements.) They told me that since she died at home, I needed to call paramedics to confirm her death. When they arrived, the police came as well, and within a few minutes, I had five different officers asking me questions. It was the last plainclothes policeman who asked me, “Do you have any idea what is happening?” When I said “no,” he told me very kindly that I was being charged with the death of my mother. Since I had not sought medical help, and as I was with her during her death and did not call 911 when I knew she was dying, I was being charged with taking her life.
As I said, this really needs to be another book, but as you have probably guessed, the charges were eventually dropped after many lengthy investigations. But the criminal charges were later followed by Family Services charging me with “abuse, neglect, and exploitation of an elderly person.” These charges were also dropped, many months later, and after many lengthy investigations. It also kept me from attending my mother’s memorial service and it requiring special permission from the state to be allowed to move out of state with my family.
Needless to say, it was a nightmare that few will ever face. I had paid a high price to honor and obey my mother’s wishes, but as I have said before, if I had it to do again, I would gladly pay the price.
One thing that I do know for certain is that I have shown honor as a daughter to my parents. Therefore, I am assured that my children will honor me and I am seeing it already. Throughout my married life, I witnessed first-hand my former husband dishonoring his parents. Without really understanding the grave consequences, he and his older brother are notorious for trying to tell, especially their mother, what to do and not do. There were many loud, public disputes and disagreements, very often about how she spent her time and money. I was never really in the position to be able to talk to my former husband about it when we were married (since this would be the same insubordination as I am sharing about here). After we were divorced, however, I was able to talk to him briefly about my concern.
Currently, my former husband is living with his mother. Though we don’t really talk now (since he is presently engaged; we are friendly but no longer friends like we were), he told me how horrible it was to have her treat him as a kid. How she got on him about everything, especially his drinking. I thought to myself that maybe God was giving him a second chance to get things right with his mother. I am not sure if he knows it, nor if he will take the opportunity to honor his mother, but the consequences may be more than he bargained for. Though my children are very, very respectful of all authority, I was in utter shock and surprise that my children have never encouraged me to seek restoration with their father. As a matter of fact, they’re against it. When he moved states away, and later planned to move back to the area where we live “if he had the money,” it was my children who did not want me to give him the money. Insubordination is sin and the Bible is clear, what we sow, we will indeed reap.
As I said, this is not the way my children usually are. They have never been disrespectful to him, spoken against him, or refused to see or speak to him. All I can say is that this verse is also true:
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
Now that we’ve covered insubordination, what exactly then does it mean to be obedient? Sometimes, we need to see what not being obedient is to fully understand what obedience is. Here is an example of disobedience from one of our television members that I observed just last night. I was invited to stay overnight with this member (when she heard I was traveling to this area), who interestingly was separated from her husband. But then, at the last minute, this woman’s husband told her that he was not comfortable with me staying in their home. However, it was going to create a big expense for me with last-minute arrangements, so she told me that I could still stay at her home since her husband had left early in the morning and he wouldn’t know. I was more than shocked, but I realized she honestly had no idea that what she did was disobedience or rebellion. This woman loves the Lord but she had no idea that she was doing anything wrong.
During this same week, one of the ladies who works for RMI as a volunteer had one incident after another of disobedience, coupled with insubordination when she made decisions without checking with Erin (since Erin had given her instructions, but she chose to do something else). When I saw what had happened, I spent a lot of time and tried my best to explain how to obey, what constituted disobedience, and how insubordination played into the scheme of things that would go very wrong. In one email, this woman stated that she did not “try to be rebellious,” to which the Lord told me “you don’t have to try to be rebellious, it comes naturally; you have to try to be obedient.” Wow.
I believe that the root of rebellion, disobedience, and even insubordination, goes all the way back to our relationship with the Lord. How many times have we known what we should do but we have chosen to do something else? How many times have we excused, ignored, or reasoned why we did something that someone in authority told us not to do or what we were to do but we chose not to do it?
As I mentioned earlier, I am on my way back home after many, many, many flights. I still hate flying. I still hate being away from family. But though I hate flying (but thankfully have no fear of flying like Erin’s shared that she has), I love the Lord so much more and it shows by obeying Him. Before I even got home, my church had already booked an extensive tour to Africa and Europe that may even include time in South America. Many of you who love to travel may envy me, but those who are closest to me see clearly that I love the Lord with all my heart, because they all know that I hate to travel and I am a simple homebody. I’ve always been happiest at home and am very content to just care for my home and family. So if given a choice, I would remain home. However, I love the Lord, and it shows through my obedience to Him.
“If you love Me . . .” (John 14:15).
What about you? At what level of obedience do you live? Trust me, for most of you, you have no idea that you are living in rebellion, disobedience, or insubordination. I have just witnessed this phenomenon with three of our church members whom I know love the Lord and are passionate in their desire to gain a greater intimacy with Him. But, if these sins (rebellion, disobedience, or insubordination) are active in your life, then deep intimacy with the Lord is simply impossible. This is not my opinion but God’s. And the only way that you can break this cycle, which stands in the way of true intimacy with Him, is to first admit that you are a sinner.
“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).
Secondly, ask the Lord to reveal the areas where you are living in rebellion. He will.
Finally, begin to watch your day-to-day living habits to see ways to obey. Remember we don’t need to try to disobey, we need to try to obey. Then, once you begin this enhanced journey, you will be amazed experiencing how great it is to walk in God’s perfect will where you are always surrounded with favor and blessings. One of my greatest benefits is watching my own children who are “walking in the truth” as fruits of my obedience and now I can share John’s sentiments: “I have no greater joy than this” (3 John 1:4).