Barnyard Lessons on Obedience And Why Obeying Is Better Than Sacrifice

Aug 3, 2013 | Encouragement, Faith, Life, Parenting

He called me at 9:15 am asking for his brother’s phone number. “We’re having some trouble with the calf” he said. I held my tongue, gave him Brett’s phone number, and sighed in my spirit. I’ll talk to him about disobeying later, I thought. He’s learning the hard way why obeying is better. 

I was two hours away traveling to a speaking engagement and my husband was out of town. Junior had instructions from me to walk his 4-H calf before his older brother left for work at 9:00. Someone needed to be around to help him if something went wrong. The two calves were strong and unruly and had already given my husband fits.  I gave Junior the instructions for his safety.

But he’s a capable farm boy.  He thought he could handle things okay.

9:15 said different.

When I got home later in the day, I heard about the fiasco.  As Junior and a friend were walking the calves, one of the calves took off, taking one of the boys for a tumble until the calf was let go. Then the calf ran in the soybean field.

Chasing an obstinate 400+ pound steer isn’t an easy feat for two boys in an open field.

Help eventually came.  The calves were chased back into their calf pen and the boys had a few scraps for battle wounds.

“I’ll never tell you to do something for some arbitrary reason,” I told Junior later in the day after hearing what happened. “There are reasons why obeying is better. It involves safety and what’s best for you.”

fourteen year old teenage with aggressive bully expression

 He learned there’s safety in obeying instruction. 

“To obey is better than sacrifice.” – 1 Samuel 15:22.

This incident reminds of 1 Samuel 15. God told Saul to kill everything in a battle against the Amalekites. Saul did…except what he thought was okay to keep….not really a big deal.

Like Junior, Saul chose to do his own thing against God’s instructions. I’m a lot like Junior and Saul. Whether it’s exerting independence, impatience, not understanding God’s motives, or plain rebellion, when I disobey God in the moment, I walk outside of His perfect will that provides safety, security and best intentions for my life. 

Saul stepped out of God’s will with arrogance and pride and lost an opportunity to serve God as the chosen and honored king of His people. He carried out his calling on his terms, not God’s. Do you do that?

“For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.” – 1 Samuel 15:23

When we disobey God, we act out of rebellion and arrogance.

How many times do you seek God’s will less and less because you do well on your own?  That’s what Saul did. stop?He was happy at how well he carrying out God’s commands.  He was so proud he kept the best to show God {and others}. He even built a monument in his own honor. And he lost the opportunity to be king.

When we step outside of God’s commands for us in small moments, we not only side-step His perfect plan for us, but we sow seeds of arrogance, independence and rebellion.

Rebellion is like witchcraft and arrogance is like worshiping other gods (1 Samuel 15:23). God takes these things seriously.

When we allow God to check the motives of our heart, He reveals where obedience is lacking or where arrogance and independence is taking root. It looks different for each of us. All of our children display disobedience in difference ways. In one it might look like rebellion, another like independence, yet another like passive disobedience or a quiet rebellion. Each are equally harmful for their character development and in their relationship with God.

You and I are no different. God doesn’t give us arbitrary commands. Each instruction is filled with love, protection, and good-will just like my 9:00 instruction was for Junior. We can actively or passively disobey and fall out of God’ perfect will for us.

I’ve learned the hard way God’s ways are better than my ways. Obeying is better.  I’ve learned I’d rather obey in blind faith than walk in my own independence that seems better in the moment. 

I’ve been drug around the barnyard too many times.

How about you?  I encourage you to read 1 Samuel 15 and listen to the words between Samuel, Saul, and God. If you’re like me, you’ll hear a lot of yourself in the conversation.

In response, seek Him.  Then listen.  And obey.

What lessons have you learned in obedience or disobedience? I’d love to hear your stories, too!






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1 Comment

  1. Janette Wright

    Great piece…great! I loved that your addressed the different forms of rebellion…as a mother of six I can say that is so true. It is easier to notice the rebellion that shouts rebellion and miss the child who is passive rebellion. I too have been been around the pasture too many times.
    Yes obedience is better than sacrifice. My post this week was on my oldest learning that lesson also.

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