Yesterday, I talked about letting go. Letting go of whatever is holding you back from God’s purpose in your life. It could be sin, a relationship, an activity, a fear, a reliance on something other than God…but if you feel like you are missing out on God’s purpose for your life, I would challenge you to seek him out with all of your heart. I would ask you to prepare in your heart a willingness to let go of anything, ANYTHING, that keeps you from living the plan he has for you. Give everything to him, and let him be the judge of what remains a part of your life and what doesn’t. He will honor your faith, he will set you on the right path, the path to freedom. He will breathe life into areas you thought were dead, expose deep longings that he has written on your heart that you didn’t even know existed.
If you have been following my blog, you know that I am walking through fire right now, living on nothing but faith. God has awakened a strong desire in me to live fully for him. I have been blinded by what the world sees as truth, even as a Christian. Even though I love God, I have still been living in a self-made prison.
I know this post is sounding super serious, and I am normally much more lighthearted. But, I don’t know, it’s like every day, as I step closer to God, as I trust him with one more thing, as I loosen my grip on everything that I have always believed was important, even necessary, he opens my eyes a little bit more. It’s like I am being awakened to the truth of what a life of real intimacy and complete trust in God looks like. It’s awesome and scary and amazing and terrifyingly beautiful all at the same time! And it’s the only thing I want.
I feel like all I want to do is tell you what I see, inspire you to walk away from your own prisons and live in this newfound freedom. I can’t stand the thought of idly standing by, watching people, even Christians who do know God, who live in salvation, who read his Word and hear him speak, continue missing God’s plan and purpose for their life.
When will we stop trusting in ourselves and our own abilities, and start trusting God? When will we be willing to cut back the things standing in the way of making God our number one priority in life, and trusting him with consequences of such freedom?
My boyfriend and I took my kids “hiking” the other day. Where I grew up, hiking was trailing through the woods, up and down hills, navigating cliffs, exploring incredible gorges and caves, following streams to beautiful waterfalls…an adventurous series of challenges with a reward of discovering and enjoying secret places of beauty in nature. Here, not so much. We got to the trail and it was just a dirt road. A long never-ending, straight dirt road. Boring, but easy. On either side of the path was swampland, which was actually pretty interesting. When I saw signs warning of alligators and venomous snakes, warnings to stay on the path, don’t bring pets, no horses, I felt more nerve-racked than curious. But we trudged on, looking forward to the path we had mapped out, expecting to turn on various trails that had different views and terrains, excited to explore the raw beauty and nature of an area I knew nothing about.
The easiness and simplicity of the dirt road quickly lost any appeal. I hated this stupid dirt road. It was 100 degrees, no shade and I was soaked in sweat a mile in. My nervousness turned to fear as I saw vultures swarming around us. My sweat was attracting insects of every sort, and after two wasp stings, I was really looking forward to getting off this trail. After what seemed to be an eternity, we got to the first checkpoint, another trailhead that led to a more exciting path, and maybe some shade. It was closed. So, we looked at the map, saw that a short distance further, we could hop on another trail and re-route our path from there for a similar experience. We trudged on. I might point out that both kids were crying at this point. Knowing that relief from this creepy, monotonous , never-ending path was just ahead, we fought through the yucky parts, still hoping for something awesome on the next trail. The next trail was also closed. Smart people would have turned back now, but not us. Nope, we are stubborn and we were not going to let anything get in the way of our “fun” day out. We re-routed again, and continued to the next trail, which, surprise surprise, was also closed. I finally decided to actually read the sign on the gate keeping us off the trail. Closed for nesting season. Open September 1 – February 21. Why wasn’t this posted on the website when I was mapping out our hike??? Grrrr. More importantly, why did it take me so long to read the sign!? I lead our family on a trail that was going nowhere.
Well, our hiking experience may have been a bust. We rewarded the kids for pushing through a hard experience with ice-cream and lots of cold water, and hopefully didn’t turn them off to the joys of nature completely. But God spoke to me through this crummy experience. I thought about how in my quest to complete this mission of “a fun day hiking with my family,” I completely missed the signs telling me to turn around, this is not the path to be on right now. I thought about how stupid and unnecessary this torturous experience was, all because of my stubbornness and unwillingness to give up on my plan.
I heard God’s gentle voice saying to me, This is exactly the path you were on, the path you have been trying to build a life of purpose on, in your own way, in your own strength. Now, you have finally “read the sign”. You finally hear me calling you to a different path. This path, it looks easy. It looks like you can’t go wrong. It’s wide, flat, straight. Simple. But it leads nowhere. You follow this path relentlessly, relying on your abilities, your knowledge, your hard work, your sacrifices. You wait to get to the turning point, to step into the road of fulfillment and purpose, only to find yourself locked out. You have been travelling this never-ending path your whole life, even after experiencing my presence, even after knowing I offer freedom. You were unaware that you needed freedom. You thought your toiling and striving were just part of the way to my plan. You walked towards each checkpoint, each new trail in my Name, and still found each escape from the path locked. Now you know. The easiness of this path is a lie. Is it full of danger, with evil on every side of you, lurking, waiting for you to stumble. The sun scorches from up above, there is no shade, no resting place. Only survival. Only the hope of getting to next checkpoint. And that hope has failed you over and over. Come with me! The path I have for you, it leads to your real purpose. It is safe, I have already cleared it for you, made a way for you. It is not wide. It is narrow. It is shaded from the blazing sun, which means it is dark – you will have to listen for my voice and pay attention to the roots and rocks so that you don’t trip. You will not be able to bring anything on the trail, you must give that to me first. That luke-warm bottle of water and stale granola in a bulky backpack, those self-made provisions will only hold you back. It will weigh you down, get snagged on brush, keep you from what I have waiting for you at the end of this trail. Leave it, and follow me. I know the way, trust me.
As I heard him speak this to me, another image came into my mind. When we go to the beach, I like to go where it is quietest. I park on the side of road, and head to the beach through access points that go through narrow, wooded little trails that you have duck under and climb down to reach the sand. It’s a short little “tunnel” if you will, that reminds me of the woods I enjoyed as a kid back home. This “trail” or more appropriately, access point, is the image that God placed in my mind. I can’t see how long the trail is, it is dark and it twists and turns. I wouldn’t be able to take a backpack or any other hiking equipment with me. It’s not only on a pretty steep slant, but the brush is close overhead, and you have to duck to go through it. You are stepping over lots of roots, and although they often make a natural “staircase” down, if you’re not paying attention, it would be easy to trip. Any extra weight would be a nuisance at the very least, and completely unnecessary. The path looks intimidating, but is actually peaceful and non-threatening. It’s hard to grasp the length of the trail, because you can’t see the end, but I know where I am, and I know the beach lies a short walk away on the other side.
This access point is the trail I am giving up the endless path of destruction for. God has cleared this path for me, and I know that only provision, blessing, peace and purpose lie on the other side.
I don’t know what the path looks like that you’re on today. My path was a never-ending cycle of trying to provide as a single mom while still maintaining any kind of relationship with my kids. I kept striving and fighting to get somewhere, anywhere, but each time I came to a turning point, the door was shut. I believed in the lie that I have to be superwoman to gain the respect of my kids, my family, my peers, to please God and, of course, to survive. They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and my intentions, while noble and praised in this world of greed and selfishness, had me exactly there, in a hell of my own making.
Don’t you see? God doesn’t want us to fight and strive for survival, he wants us to lean into him with trust, to rest in his presence, to put him first and trust him to provide! He appreciates our hard work when we work in his Name to build his Kingdom, but the world has twisted hard work into slaving away for survival and identity in our job title.
It bothers me that we are pushing God and our families to the side as we toil and strive to add another dollar to our bank account. It doesn’t matter whether that dollar is barely putting food on the table or allowing you to keep up with Joneses, it’s all the same in God’s eyes. We are relying on ourselves to merely survive, instead of relying on him to thrive. And that is the farthest thing from his plan for us.
I am not saying quit your job and hang out on the beach with your family all day, come home order pizza and binge-watch Netflix all evening. That’s a vacation, and while that sounds fun, that is also not God’s plan. We are called on a mission. It’s called the Great Commision. What’s that? Matthew 28:19-20 says this : “Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave this charge : God authorized and commanded me to commission you : go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name : Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”
I can spend hours writing verses where God commands us to prioritize his relationship and building his Kingdom above all else. For the sake of time and length I will put a link here that will give you just a handful of places in the Bible that give us this instruction.
The work you do on this earth should not squelch your time so much that your relationship with God suffers. It should not leave you so exhausted that the thought of being in the same room with your children makes you want to cry. If you’re living out God’s plan, your relationship with God will be the most important thing to you, being in his presence will be necessary and desired above all else. This will give you peace. If your living God’s plan, you will understand that your first mission in building his Kingdom is your family, and he will lead you in a direction that will allow for teaching and guiding them, being present in their lives, and for them to be second to nothing but him. Your work will be challenging yet fulfilling, and will push you to grow in character, not claw your way up a ladder of so-called “success”. This will give you purpose. It might mean taking a cut in pay, or changing your lifestyle and habits, it may even mean letting go of toxic work environments to follow new path. (Like writing) But you can trust God to provide, to step in and fill the gap. He knows what you need and commands us to stop worrying about petty things like money, because he will always provide what we need.
What are we working for? Where do your current priorities lie? Are you striving to survive, or exploring and building to thrive? Would you like to get off the destructive path? Do you know in your heart there is more to this life than busting your butt for nothing? Do you know God has called you to do something but you are afraid of the consequences of doing so?
Stop it. For your own sakes, for your families sakes, get off this miserable path. God has called you to something more. And he will not call you into anything that will harm you. His calling will give you purpose, peace and provision.
It will require faith. It will get messy for a bit. But it’s worth it. I am praying for each and every one of you who reads this today, that God will speak to you and show his love for you, the pain he feels for you as you struggle in a life he never intended for you. I pray you will seek him and give everything to him, so he can lead down that peaceful, joy filled path.
Pray for me too. I’m human, and I scare easy.
Also, make sure you order your Box! I believe it will be a blessing to you, and definitly to anyone you send it to!