The past week or two has been an interesting time for me as I have felt a stirring inside my heart. It is always during these times of restlessness that God draws me closer and prepares me for a change that is about to take place in my life. I have come to recognize these times as blessings, though I have a love/hate relationship with them. These are times when I re-evaluate everything that I am a part of and the direction in which my life is headed. I dive into the bigger picture of God’s redemption plan and spend very focused time in prayer as I determine what part He might be calling me to play in this plan. Sometimes these periods of time can last for a few weeks; often times they last for months.
Without going into great detail as to what all is being thought about and discussed between God and I right now, I can share some of what I came to realize in Scripture today. I have been working through Luke VERY SLOWLY, and I keep coming back to Luke 6:46-49. This is what it says:
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”
I have spent my life studying the Bible, being involved in ministry, and participating in short-term and long-term mission work. I have cultivated a good relationship with God as best I knew how. As I read this Scripture this morning, I began to be convicted about how shallow my foundation is. For so many years my life has been about doing things for God. I would read Scripture or hear messages on certain topics and recognize my need to learn things or develop certain character traits and I would set out to build those traits in my life. In so many ways, I have often been the initiator of my own learning process and growth. Somehow, I may have been thinking a little backwards.
I have always had lists and descriptions of the type of person I want to become. I know exactly the type of personality I would like to have, character traits I would like to define me, and the reputation I desire for others to know and understand. How many times have I seriously stopped to erase the chalkboard and look at who God wants me to be? What kind of personality did He give me? What character traits would He like to instill in me? What reputation does He desire for my life? I don’t know if the thought of what He might come up with scares me or perhaps I don’t have the patience to wait for His answer. Either way, I am operating outside of His will by trying to live a life of faith without the leading and transformation of the Holy Spirit.
Whether I want to admit it or not, I like to have control. I know what it’s like to be controlled and I know what it’s like to feel out of control and I do not like either one of those scenarios. Therefore, it is only natural for me to grab the steering wheel and hit the gas whenever I can. I am so good at running ahead of God, seeing a part of His will and running full-speed ahead toward that without a thought about the in-between and the journey He might have for me. I wonder how much I have missed throughout my life during these times. I hate the process of becoming; I just simply want the final product of being the person I dream for me and the person He dreams for me. It is the time and discipline involved in the molding and shaping that I have a hard time handling. This is the building of His foundation in my life, and He is showing me that I need to slow down and focus on allowing Him access into my life to lay that foundation. I cannot lay that foundation; that is something that He alone needs to do in my heart.
Today I received a message that changed my plans. I am not the least flexible person in the world, but I have a long way to go in being a flexible enough person for God to use well. It threw me for a loop, and I spent a lot of time in prayer evaluating the question “what now?” I couldn’t help but wonder if I am a failure because of A,B, and C and the devil definitely gives enough material for the jury to come to a unanimous decision. However, the question begs to be asked: what is God’s truth in my life?
I can’t ignore the reality that there are many things that I have set out to do over the years that have crashed and burned, and many of them due to lack of discipline on my part to see things through. It is at my lowest points (rock bottom) when I am reminded of these situations and my complete inability to change myself, and believe me, I have tried. However, I would be shallow to think that all of this is a simple attack from the devil, because I know that even within the accusations, there is a morsel of truth that I must face. I have tried to do so much on my own, and it has ended in failure. My own efforts have not succeeded in almost every instance. It was only tonight as I was praying that I realized that maybe God wanted me to come to the point of acknowledging my propensity for failure so that I might come to know something greater.
As I mentioned earlier, so much of my life has been about doing things for God. I have been the determiner of my own destiny, even so far as the things that I was learning from God. I had tunnel-vision so to speak, only hearing what I wanted to hear and relying on opportunities that I had created to hear God’s voice. I was not really listening to Him, but rather listening to my own understanding of who He is and how He does things. Although I could never disagree more with this method when looking at it objectively like this, it is an easy mode to jump into when you are a person who thinks you need to constantly have control. I know that God has been able to work in these situations, but is it the best He has in mind for me?
What if God isn’t concerned necessarily about what we do for Him, but is more concerned with who we are being in Him? What if the person He is molding us to be leads into obedience rather than obedience leading into us being shaped and molded? I have always lived under the assumption that through having experiences, God was developing me. What if at certain times in our lives, and perhaps this time for me is now, He simply draws us into His presence in the midst of our daily lives and all the normal that surrounds us?
In hitting rock bottom, I have completely become aware of my weakness. I am incapable of being disciplined. I struggle to persevere at times and often lose the fight to push through on projects and responsibilities when my emotions are not in it. I have a tendency to get overwhelmed when things get difficult. I have a short attention span. I am the opposite of a creature of habit: I thrive on change and need it to keep my sanity. I hate being predictable, yet I have a hard time comprehending situations and life in general when I discover that the rest of the world and other people can be unpredictable too. When I face times of restlessness in my life, I know that God is drawing me in, but I tend to fight Him. I have no idea why I resist His love and grace, but I am terrified of my inadequacies and facing the truth of all the things I know I fall short in. I want to believe as long as possible that I can do this. I want to think that I am strong. I want to hope that my house will stand when the torrent strikes, but is my foundation weak? As much as I would love to believe that I have a strong foundation due to all the knowledge and wisdom I have collected over the years, I also know myself well enough to understand that I am far too self-reliant to be vulnerable enough in the presence of God. I cannot change myself, and I cannot make myself become who I desire to become or even who I think that God wants me to become. It is only in complete awareness of my inabilities and the total surrender of my control that God can take the reins and begin to work in my heart to change me and develop His character inside of me.
Do I really want what God wants? Do I really desire to know Him? Do I want it enough to dedicate my life to the pursuit of simply knowing Him, no matter the obstacles, the feelings, or the cost? Can I be patient to wait for His timing and to endure whatever He sends in order for this foundation to be built? Am I willing to lay down everything that I think I know about Him in order to really know Him? Am I prepared for what I might find? Am I willing to wipe the chalkboard clean of everything I think He wants me to be to really seek the truth of HIS desires for my life and character? Am I willing to admit my failure to Him? Am I willing to surrender my control and trust that He will mold and change me if I let Him? Do I have faith enough in Him to give Him everything that matters to me?
I don’t want to miss anything He has for me because of my selfishness and blindness. I want to KNOW HIM, more than anything in the world. The thought that I do not understand Him or perhaps have misjudged Him scares me to death. In my search to live and see outside the box, I have once again put Him in a box. I have made Him predictable when He is anything but that. I pray that over these next few weeks, He will blow me away with new truths about who He is. I know that in order to hear Him and in order for change to take place in my life, I must be humble before Him. I must understand the depth of my own need before I can accept all that He has to offer. I guess rock bottom has its benefits. If this is where He wants me, then I will be thankful that I am here. I pray that I might be open to whatever He might say to me today.