Disclaimer up front: You’re going to want to write a letter to Priscilla, slating her “GB girl” as a theologian-gone-wild after you read the next paragraph in today’s post. Alarms are going to ring wildly in your head, eyes will narrow and your head will cock to the left…all as you ponder how in the WORLD I could be saying such things…BUT. If you can hold off on getting me fired for one second, I DO believe you might find your head tilt turning into a head nod…agreeing with me! Blaspheme, I know. But…let’s continue:
I don’t think He cares what path we take as much as that we actually TAKE a path.
“SO…What?!” you ask? I know, I know. It’s foreign to all we think. We operate most of the time out of this place of believing that:
God is Sovereign (because He IS)
and He knows the best path for us (which He DOES)
because He created us (which He DID)
And He has a minutely SPECIFIC path for us (which He sometimes does!).
But sometimes I think we get so caught up in the “Oh LORD! I don’t know which direction to turn! I don’t know which door to walk through! I don’t know what?” and we spin in all the possibilities and what if’s…and…we are paralyzed. Useless. USELESS.
So in saying all this..I’m bashing your hopes for a clear-cut, “God has a very specific plan” answer for all your questions. But hopefully, I’m also allaying a few of your worries that maybe you’re just not “getting it” and that’s why you don’t automatically and definitively know the next step. In decision making, I think the majority of the times, there’s an opportunity and we are supposed to walk toward it…saying “Yes, Lord, show me the way” the whole time. I think Scripture points to this way of working out our “hearing” of God. I am reminded of Proverbs 16:1, “The plans of the heart belong to man but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord” or later on in the same passage, “Man plans his way but the Lord determines his steps.” We start heading a direction, and He hedges us into the right place.
Over a decade ago, for my 21st birthday (I’m showing my age now!), my mentor at the time gave me a little James Avery necklace that looks like this:
I LOVED it and wore it non-stop til I lost it in a lake a few years back. When she gave it to me, she said, “Annetta, as long as you have Christ in the center of your heart, all you have to do is follow your heart.” Now I can immediately hear some of you saying, “WHOA! None of that yogi talk here!” and to a degree I agree with you! After all, Scripture says, “The heart is deceitful above all else” and also that NO ONE knows your heart except the Lord! So I get the instant hesitation. BUT. We are renewed. We have The Triune God living and breathing and working within us. We are SUPPOSED to listen to Him speak to our hearts…to listen to the little “nudges” He gives us every day. We are supposed to dig deep and see what resonates with the Spirit’s work in our hearts and lives…
Even as I write all that I recognize that He has put some systems, some checks and balances if you will, in place in my life to make sure I am operating from that place of HIM leading my life and not ME leading my heart. If you’re like ME, you need a few guidelines setup to this whole “listening to God and stepping out in faith” thing. After all, I’m wrong WAY more often than I am right…especially at the beginning of this journey (but even still today!). And the guidelines that He has setup in me are to make decisions that:
1. Align with Scripture.
2. Resonate with my accountability group.
3. Are in line with godly counsel.
4. Bring peace.
5. Give me a holy excitement.
When all these things align, it’s as though the stars of the universe are lining up to direct me to His calling on my life.
Now, there IS still a degree of “wait on God” in all of this…sometimes He gives us a pretty stern “Wait on me. Don’t move.” But I believe the majority of time, that waiting time is wrongly perceived by us. We hear “wait” and we stop in our tracks, as though God was playing a game of “red-light, green-light” with our life. But if you look at the Hebrew’s understanding of the word “wait” you see such a different picture. They understood waiting to be a moving-in-place thing…a pregnant-woman-waiting-for-the-birth waiting. Many of you just started tracking with me…you’ve had kids, you know what “waiting 9 months” feels like. It’s not a sitting still kind of wait. It’s a put the crib together, read the books, attend the classes, talk with your friends and doctors and anyone-who-will-listen kind of waiting. And when we wait on God, I think it most often looks like this…with our hearts at rest and trusting in His movement.
Waiting is fluid, not stagnant.
Years ago an elderly gentleman mentor stopped me in the middle of eating lunch…with his hand on my shoulder and a wizened look to his eyes, he said, “Annetta, there are 2 things you need to know: 1. You are going to make mistakes. 2. Always wear sunglasses.” At the time I laughed, said “yes sir!” and have kept a pair of cheap aviators in my car ever since (still have 20/20 vision!). But I also walked away thinking…I’m going to make mistakes. I don’t have to be so bound with fear over making a mistake, over making a wrong choice on the path I’m walking on, that I just sit paralyzed.” By acknowledging that I am flawed and WILL INDEED MAKE MISTAKES, I was allowing God to transform the fear in my heart to a trust in that deeper Sovereignty of His. I realized that when I was saying I believed God was Soveriegn in my early, paralyzed years, I was actually operating out of a place of fear; fear that I would choose something He hadn’t said to choose; fear that He couldn’t clean up after my mess; In the end I realized:
In the name of holiness, I stood still out of fear.
NOW. There are moments (rare) that He actually says, “DO exactly this!” As a “do-er” I LOVE these moments. And in those moments, I believe He will make it abundantly clear. Look throughout Scripture and you’ll discover His M.O (modeus operandus…mode of operation for all us non-military folks) for a specific call is clarity, stark clarity, when He is giving marching orders. For instance, with Moses, there was a bush. Burning. But not charred. And a Voice. It was pretty clear the direction. For Paul, there was a huge flash of light. And then blindness. And then a prophet sent to get him and give directions. Clarity. God takes the burden of passing on the message upon Himself. He recognizes our humanness…our frailty. And in recognizing our ofttimes-inability, He makes up for it…after all, in our weakness, He is strong. In our stupidness, He leads….well….clearly.
Occasionally we will start to walk forward in what seems like such a completely crazy idea. We are CONVINCED that God has told it to us. And just as strongly as we FEEL we are right, we are dead WRONG. But in the middle of that place a few things happen…
1. We hear God’s Voice and leading better next time.
2. Our pride takes a whipping as we realize we don’t know everything (always a good thing with me!)
3. We are actually moving and seeing God work in our lives to accomplish “what concerns us” even if it’s not what we set out to do…we are seeing God’s Sovereignty in action!
Suffice it all to say:
We find ourselves in Him more fully when we are making decisions.
The decision-making process is part of our created purpose.
If you’re like me, the majority of the times, there is no clear-cut direction to go…no clean, concise answer. It seems that God rarely gives us an instruction manual to the ho-hum details of our dreams, and then opens doors to go with those dreams. To be honest, I think that has something to do with our created nature…our nature, created in His image, is to create, to forge a road. I’ll get into the whole in’s and outs of this at a later date…BUT. Suffice to say, start moving. It’s messy. You’ll make mistakes. But with an ear to His Word, strong accountability and godly counsel, chances are you’ll be working out your created purpose.
Let me end with this story…you might have heard it, but it sticks with me and is such a clear application to this, I had to share it! Years ago a man was in a shipwreck and was stranded alone on a plank of wood in the ocean. He cried out “God save me!” A fisherman paddled by and offered the man a ride back to shore. The man replied, “Oh no…I believe God is going to save me. I need just wait on Him.” Throughout the course of the afternoon and evening, 3-4 others (coast guard, scuba divers, a fancy yacht) all sailed by and stopped, offering him a ride to shore. His response was always the same: “Oh no, I believe that God is going to save me.” Eventually he died. When he got to heaven he ran into God saying, “Why oh WHY didn’t You save me? I waited on You!” To which God replied, “I sent countless options for you, a fisherman, a coast guard, even a fancy yacht, and you didn’t take ANY of them!”
We all chuckle a little at the absurdity of the story. Of COURSE God had provided through the different boats passing by. In our own lives, it is most often not so clean cut. But I believe, if we keep Christ at the center of our hearts, drench ourselves in the Word, have godly counsel and solid accountability, we need only follow our hearts. After all, we plan our way, but He will determine our steps.
So. Start walking my sweet friend! What have you had on your heart to do for so long that it seems like a pipe dream? What is deep in the recesses of your heart that you have never told ANYone and it seems IMPOSSIBLE? Start walking toward it…pray for open doors…start knocking and praying and shouting, for HE HAS A WORK FOR YOU TO DO. NOW. It’s messy. It’s beautiful. You’re gonna fail some and win some. SO…
Get AFTER it girl!
xxox You are loved,