At first glance one might assume that obey and submit are synonymous, myself included. But as I sat meditating on submit (my word for the year), I asked God why not just say obey. If I am standing in obedience am I not submitting? God then reminded me of our previous journey with obedience and asked if I thought I was still obedient. Surprisingly, after thinking about it, I do. When God asks me to do something, I typically do it. I’m not always happy about it, but I do obey… usually 🙂
So then what is submit? What have I agreed to exactly? As I sat quietly waiting for God to speak through my spirit, I found myself looking up the definitions. To obey is to act according to given instructions. To submit is to yield to the will of another.
And so the revelation begins:
When God created man, He gave us free will… the ability to choose. And the world teaches us to hold on to that right with everything we have and everything we are. To let our free will have the ultimate say. To choose what “feels” right. To follow reason and logic. And as with me, to hear and study the word and then use that knowledge to make what I think is the right choice. Yet in all of these the choice remains mine.
When God taught me obedience, he taught me to act according to His urgings. He gives instruction – I obey. But many times my obedience is based out of fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the consequences of disobedience. Fear of setting the wrong example for someone who’s watching. And, while God is thankful for my obedience, He will gleam with joy at my submission. For submission is a form of worship. Technically, I have every right, in every area of my life, to choose. That was God’s gift to me. But in submitting, I yield (or surrender) my free will for His… willingly. Not out of fear, but rather out of love. Because I trust Him.
Submission isn’t about me choosing to do what He asks… that’s obedience, it’s about me choosing to ask what I should do. Thus, instead of waiting for Him to instruct so I can obey, I run to Him in every second and ask what to do next. I deny my will and right to choose and embrace His sovereignty over my life. I can obey without submission, but I can’t submit without obedience.
Ultimately – obedience is about one’s actions and submission is about one’s heart.