Obedience

Every thing He did or said taught someone something: but He warned, “Listen to and obey the first thing I say - for that is what is best for you. If, however, I find you reluctant, I soften and reduce My request till I arrive at a burden that, you feel, suits the strength of your shoulders. But My first request would not have been beyond your strength - if you had only trusted Me.” Shoghi Effendi repeated this and it seems the Universal House of Justice functions on the same principle.
(Reginald Grant Barrow, Mother’s Stories: Stories of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Early Believers told by Muriel Ives Barrow Newhall to her son, p. 40)


It was not long after this that Lua came to Grace and told her that it was the wish of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that she marry Harlan Ober. Grace was shocked. ‘Why I don’t really know that man! I‘ve only met him a few times and that very casually. Besides - I‘m almost engaged to someone else. He’s asked me and I‘m I‘m making up my mind. How could I think of marrying Harlan Ober? Lua smiled, “I‘m only repeating ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s request,"
she said gently. So Grace quickly put the idea out of her mind. The next morning Lua came the second time to deliver the same message. Again Grace dismissed it all as being utterly fantastic. The third morning when Lua came she added her own remarks to the message. “You’d better really consider this, Grace ‘Abdu’l-Bahá does not make suggestions lightly.” Grace, this time, realized how serious this was. ‘But what does He want me to do? Write to Harlan Ober, whom I scarcely know - and propose to him? How could I? Oh, Lua I do want to be obedient but how on earth can I? Lua hugged her and patted her consolingly. “Ill do it,” she said. “I know Harlan very well - it was through me he came into the Faith. I can do this easily.” So Lua wrote to Harlan - and Harlan, radiant at the thought that he was obeying a suggestion of his beloved Master, took the next train to New York from Boston where he lived. He came at once to see Grace and together they went walking through Central Park where he proposed and Grace, still dazed and uncertain, accepted - because it was the will of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The next morning they were called into ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s bedroom. And ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was there, with one or two others, waiting to perform the marriage ceremony. Grace remembered, afterward, entering the room. She remembered the look of warm love on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s face; she remembered the bands of sunlight on the floor and the bowls of roses on the tables and the next thing she was aware of was lying on a couch with Harlan bending
above her asking if she felt better. She then discovered that the marriage had been performed - a marriage that, with no faltering, she had gone through with Harlan at her side then, when it was over, she had swayed a little and they had suggested she lie down. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, smiling and serene, was watching her with great love knowing perfectly well how overcome with the spiritual force of these great moments she had been and knowing that the whole experience only proved her great spiritual susceptibility and capacity. So were Grace Robarts and Harlan Ober married by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Later that same day they were married again by the laws of New York when Howard Colby Ives performed the legal ceremony.
(Reginald Grant Barrow, Mother’s Stories: Stories of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Early Believers told by Muriel Ives Barrow Newhall to her son, p. 20)


Lua was so traumatized by the idea of leaving him that in an attempt to delay, she deliberately went into the woods and walked through poison ivy. Later, in bed with her feet terribly swollen: “Look at me, Julie,” she said. “Look at my feet. Oh, please go right back to the Master and tell Him about them and say: how can Lua travel now?” I did it, returned to the Master’s house, found Him in His room and put Lua’s question to Him. He laughed, then crossed the room to a table on which stood a bowl of fruit, and, selecting an apple and a pomegranate, gave them to me. “Take these to Lua,” He said. “Tell her to eat them, and she will be cured. Spend the day with her, Julie.” O precious Lua – strange mixture of disobedience and obedience – and all from love! I shall never forget her, seizing first the apple, then the pomegranate and gravely chewing them all the way through till Not even a pomegranate seed was left: thoroughly eating her cure, which was certain to send her to California. In the late afternoon we were happily surprised by a visit from the Master Himself. He drew back the sheet and looked at Lua’s feet, which by that time were beautifully slim. Then He burst out laughing. “See,” He said, “I have cured Lua with an apple and a pomegranate.” But Lua revolted again. There was one more thing she could try, and she tried it. The Master had asked me to paint her portrait, and I had already had one sitting. The following day, at the Master’s house, she drew me aside. “Please, Julie, do something else for me. Go to the Master, now, and say: if Lua is in California, how can I paint her?” I went straight to his room with Valíyu’lláh Khan to translate. “My Lord,” I said, “You’ve commanded me to paint Lua. If she is in California and I here, how can I do it? The portrait is begun; how can I finish it?” Again the Master burst out laughing, for this course was too transparent. “In a year,” He said, “Lua will join me in Egypt. She will stay in New York a few days on her way to Me and you can paint her then” ... So poor Lua had to go to California. There was no way out for her.
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 120-121)


John David Bosch was a Swiss from Canton St. Gall who emigrated to the United States in 1879. Later he returned to Europe and studied wine-making in Germany, France, and Spain … And John became a Bahá’í. On May 29, 1905, he went down to the winery office very early and wrote ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: ‘...may my name be entered in the Great Book of this Universal Life... My watchword will be “Justice.” … There were many Tablets and messages for John Bosch, through all the years … Early in 1910 (the date on the envelope is May), the Master wrote to John: ‘According to the texts of the Book of Aqdas both light and strong drinks are prohibited. The reason for this prohibition is that it [drink] leads the mind astray and is the cause of weakening the body... I hope thou mayest become exhilarated with the wine of the love of God... The after-effect of drinking is depression, but the wine of the love of God bestoweth exaltation of the spirit.’ John had forty men in four wineries under him. In one year, he crushed up fifteen thousand tons of grapes, which makes over two and a quarter million gallons of wine. ‘I thought it over,’ he said. It was not long before he decided to retire.
(Marzieh Gail, Dawn Over Mount Hira, p. 204-206)


Later that evening, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá called Dr. Zia Bagdadi and Sent him on a wild adventure beginning at nine o‘clock at night: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave [Dr. Zia Bagdadi] the key to His New York apartment and asked him to get a Persian rug to give to Mr. Smiley, the president of the International Peace Society. Even though others said no one could make the journey and return before the scheduled departure of 10 AM the next morning, Dr. Zia Bagdadi said, “I am not afraid to try anything for You, my Lord.” Since there were no passenger trains at that time of night, Dr. Bagdadi jumped on the caboose of an already moving freight train. The trainman protested until he saw Dr. written on the professional card and agreed to let the passenger remain on the train, not knowing his urgent mission concerned a rug. About 2:00 AM Dr. Bagdadi awakened Mrs. Grace Ober [Grace Roberts] and her sister, Ella Roberts, who were staying in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s apartment, selected a rug, dashed back to the station, caught a train, and arrived back at Lake Mohonk station with an hour left before 10:00 AM, although an hour’s drive lay ahead of him. The only vehicle in sight was a wagon of the mail carrier, who agreed to take him. Dr. Bagdadi arrived just as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was shaking hands with Mr. Albert Smiley and preparing to leave. Mr. Smiley, on receiving the rug, said, “Why this is just what I‘ve been seeking for many years! You see, we had a Persian rug just like this one, but it was burned in a fire and ever since, my wife has been broken–hearted over it. This will surely make her very happy.”
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 132)


amal was one of those who read the text of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas soon after it was revealed. Bahá’u’lláh permitted him to copy some excerpts and share them with the believers. According to his own testimony, he asked Bahá’u’lláh to make him exempt from obedience to the laws of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Bahá’u’lláh granted him his wish and conveyed to him that he was free and did not have to obey the laws of that book. It is interesting to note that on one occasion when he was boasting about the freedom which Bahá’u’lláh had granted him, someone recited these words of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas to him: ‘Know ye that the embodiment of liberty and its symbol is the animal.’
(Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 212)


Lua came to Grace and told her that it was the wish of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that she marry Harlan Ober. Grace was shocked … “How could I think of marrying Harlan Ober?” Lua smiled, “I‘m only repeating Abdu’l Bahá’s request", she said gently. So Grace quickly put the idea out of her mind. The next morning, Lua came the second time to deliver the same message. Again Grace dismissed it all as being utterly fantastic. The third morning when Lua came she added her own remarks to the message. “You’d better really consider this, Grace, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá does not make suggestions lightly.” Grace, this time, realized how serious this was. “But what does He want me to do? Write to Harlan Ober, whom I scarcely know – and propose to him? How could I? Oh, Lua I do want to be obedient but how on earth can I?” Lua hugged her and patted her consolingly. “I‘ll do it", she said. “I know Harlan very well – it was through me he came into the Faith. I can do this easily.” So Lua wrote to Harlan – and Harlan, radiant at the thought that he was obeying a suggestion of his beloved Master, took the next train to New York from Boston where he lived. He came at once to see Grace and together they went walking through Central Park where he proposed and Grace, still dazed and uncertain, accepted – because it was the will of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 135)


One California Bahá’í, Georgiana Dean, had moved from the West Coast at the request of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to care for Mrs. Dealy, who was going blind. Miss Dean had abandoned a good job and a love for California to fulfill the Master’s request. When Miss Dean met the other California Bahá’ís, she was overwhelmed by homesickness. Harriet Cline suggested she take the problem to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, which she did. When Miss Dean returned from her interview, tears were streaming down her face, but it shone with a radiance I have seldom seen. “He told me to stay with Mrs. Dealey as long as she needed me, and I am going to obey with all my heart and soul.” Through her sincerity, however, her prayers were answered. Within a few days Mrs. Dealy no longer needed her and she was able to return to California.
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 115-116)


After her interview, Feny and Ahmad Sohrab went shopping and bought a leg of lamb for the journey. They all had a long wait at the train station before the departure and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told Feny that where she lived was “dark, very, very dark", meaning spiritually. He asked her to write, which she did during the following years, receiving a Tablet in return each time. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told Fujita and Feny to stay and see that the luggage was safely loaded aboard the train, after which He left. With ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s departure, Feny just couldn’t stay with the luggage and also left. She later said that her disobedience brought her trouble and weeks and even months of delay with baggage. Life would be easier if we knew the wisdom of obedience.
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 210)


One day in 1912 the beloved Master was very stern while in New York. He held the book of the Hidden Words in His hand and walked back and forth and then lifted the book high and said, ‘Whosoever does not live up to these Words is not of Me.’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 49)