IF YOU’VE EVER SEEN THE MIRACLE WORKER, the story of Helen Keller and her teacher, Anne Sullivan, you well remember the dining room scene. Helen had long been allowed at mealtime to paw through the serving dishes, steal from others’ plates, and eat with her fingers. But what her family saw as unavoidable, her tutor saw as an opportunity to begin changing her new pupil’s life for the better.
The situation got ugly before it got any better. During what Miss Sullivan described as an hour and a half of warfare, utensils were thrown, things were broken, chairs were knocked over. And though it was only a first step—and hardly a tidy one at that—the ordeal resulted in Helen at least technically eating her breakfast with a spoon and folding her napkin. A new course had been set to move her from a life of chaos and confusion to one of order, self-control, and amazing discovery.
“I suppose I shall have many such battles with the little woman,” Miss Sullivan wrote in recalling the moment, “before she learns the only two essential things I can teach her: obedience and love.”
When God speaks to us about obedience—which He does more than five hundred times in the Old Testament alone—His desire is not to take from us but to give to us. Contrary to what the enemy may suggest, His commands are not limitations on our joy or freedom. Obedience—Spirit-motivated, grace-enabled, Christ-exalting obedience—is the path to blessing. And when we find ourselves wanting the blessing without the obedience part, we must remember that there is no more satisfying, joyful place to be than trusting, loving, and obeying our heavenly Father. — Nancy Leigh DeMoss, The Quiet Place: Daily Devotional Readings (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2012).