“But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.” —Jeremiah 7:24

Imagine this scene: one guinea hen trapped in a 12’x12’ space with one exit point and four Sisters in full-length white habits trying desperately to lead the lone hen out. These creatures do not like to be alone, and this one stubbornly rushed back to its reflection in the window. It was hysterical to watch the Sisters try to coax this hen away from the window to rejoin the group. Finally, a Sister got the feed and started shaking the container. Do you want to know what happened next? The hen instinctively went for the higher good – FOOD – and dashed down the hill.   

As I reflected upon this scene, it seemed like a good analogy for the virtue of obedience. Let me explain. Obedience means “to hear.” Obedience seems to be a word that is often misunderstood. Yet we learn from the Word of God that those who hear the Word and keep it are blessed. Like the sheep listening to the shepherd’s voice, we are led forward to green pastures. (Following the will of our Heavenly Father is our sure path to freedom and happiness). The virtue of obedience inclines our ears to hear and follow the will of our loving Father toward freedom and happiness. 

In life, we can often act like the guinea hen, running toward the window that reflects our own will. It isn’t until we hear the “shaking” of a higher good that we turn around and move forward. For us, this higher good is the voice of the Lord, to lead us to the greener pastures – our heavenly homeland.

I encourage you to teach young people to listen and obey with a docile heart.

Some practical examples:

  • I refrain from complaining about rules, and follow them with a pleasant, positive attitude. (I don’t roll my eyes when asked to do something.)
  • I try to understand rules and guidelines from the perspective of the teacher/coach/parent (e.g., I think about why they would make a rule like this).
  • I obey the law and other rules, even when no one is looking.

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