Delayed Obedience is Disobedience

I used to be a teacher, and every time I assigned a project, I would have a student who turned in an elaborate and brilliant piece of work that did not meet the rubric requirements. Despite its great appearance, I could not give them a good grade because they did not complete the assignment correctly. While I have been the assigning teacher, I have also been the disobedient student who resigned to doing things the way I thought was best.


God has an assignment for each of us. He has something that he wants us to do, and He gives us instructions on how to carry out the work before us. Far too often, we complicate the mission with our ideas. This can keep us from completing the assignment, and like my students, we might ultimately fail.


A couple of years ago, God told me to write. That’s it. Those were the instructions. Simple, right? I had a session with a business coach, started a website, and took courses on creating social media content. I did everything except what God told me to do— write. I spent months redoing my website because I did not like the design. I posted less and less on social media because I started focusing on getting followers rather than writing. I had intentions to follow through, but I got distracted. Our obedience is delayed when we become distracted by things outside of God’s instructions.


Delayed obedience is disobedience.

We can be very creative with reasons to delay our obedience. We pray about it, consult friends and family members, and do other tasks— like building websites that have nothing to do with the original instructions.


Ultimately, we are disobedient.


Similarly, it is still disobedience when God gives us instructions that we agree to but never act upon.


When God told me to write, I said, okay. I told other people about His instructions and what I would do. I wasted time. In part because I was scared and uncertain. Write what? Where? To what audience? I asked Him many questions, and His instructions never changed. He told me to write and said He would reveal more after I took that step of obedience.


Two years passed with me writing intermittently but knowing I had not entirely done what God told me to do.


Our actions, not our words, determine our obedience.


In Matthew 21:28-32 (TPT), Jesus tells the Parable of Two Sons. A father gives his sons instructions to work in the vineyard. The first son refuses but later changes his mind and does it anyway. The second son initially says he will but ultimately does not. In the parable, the first son is obedient because he actually did what he was told.


Sometimes God will help you fulfill His instructions.


A few months ago, I posted a list of random thoughts on Instagram. Number six on that list was, “I want to blog, but I don’t want to manage a website.” That post led us here. My friend subsequently asked if I wanted to be a guest contributor on her platform: Embrace It Always. This offer was an intervention from God. It removed my excuses, gave me a place to write, and helped me be obedient.


In the book of Exodus, God tells Moses to go before Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt. In short, Moses has doubts and objections regarding His ability to do what he was asked to do because he had difficulty speaking. God responded in two ways. First, He reminded Moses, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute or the deaf, the seeing or the blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” But then tells Moses to take his brother Aaron with him to speak. God helped Moses be obedient.


God’s will does not change to accommodate our objections. If He has called you to it, He will provide the skills, resources, or platform for you to do what He has asked.

Our job is to be willing and obedient. That often involves stepping out in faith without the whole picture or knowing the outcome. Be honest with yourself. Is there anything God has asked you to do (or stop doing) that you ignore or put off?


Obedience can be scary, but experience has taught me three lessons:


  • It is ok to pray and ask questions; however, it is not okay to delay obedience because God did not give you the answer you wanted.


  • We may not have the complete picture, but God has our best interest at heart.


  • Small steps of obedience can be the key to God providing you with the information and the understanding you seek.


Take some time this week to pray and ask God to show you any areas of your life where you are being disobedient, and then start acting!