On Bike Rides and Listening to God

It’s easy to live with the mindset that I’d better obey God, or else. I don’t want to go to hell, so I need to do what God says is right, and avoid what He says is wrong. This works for a while, until my desire to live my own way overwhelms my efforts to go along with God’s instructions. At some point, I’m not as motivated by fear or the negative outcomes of living life my way. But what if there’s a different mindset that allows me to rise above all of that? What if there are positive consequences of my obedience, as though God might actually want the best for me? What if there’s an incredible reward for seeking and following my Creator?
During my early grade school years, my mother would not allow me to ride my bike in the street. I really wanted to ride in the street, what with its smooth surface and open space to ride fast and far, but I (almost) always stayed out of the street because mom said, “No.” Riding in the street would have given me incredible, though temporary, pleasure. It would also have put me in danger and caused my mom to take away my bike for a very, very long time. It came down to my way or mom’s way, what I wanted versus what she wanted. I avoided the street because I feared the negative consequences, but more important than the fear that motivated me less and less, I trusted that my mom loved me, and cared about me, and wanted what was best for me.
As an adult and a dad who’s raised his own kids, I see more clearly the importance of kids listening to their parents. As a child of God, I’m learning everyday about the immense value of listening to my Father in Heaven. God tells me to do something (or not to do something), and I often want to disobey, but I (almost) always follow God because He has told me what to do (or not to do). Taking my own path would provide me with incredible, though temporary, pleasure. It would also put my soul in danger and cause me to experience some very negative results. It comes down to my way or God’s way, what I want versus what He wants. I strive to listen to God because I fear the negative consequences, but more important than the fear that motivates me less and less, I trust that God loves me, and cares about me, and wants what’s best for me.
Having a genuine faith in God is to believe Him in every area of my life. While I still fail more often than I’d like to admit, I do my best to obey because I trust Him, even though I might not completely understand what He’s doing in my life. On a deeper level, I have a genuine faith because that’s the only way I can please Him, and because He rewards me when I trust Him and seek Him.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen… And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
– Hebrews 11:1, 6 (NASB)
Troy Burns