As Ruth and I have continued to prayerfully seek God’s direction, we have had many “what if?” scenarios. It gets exhausting to continually project options and scenarios even in the most positive sense. Even for my analytical brain, comparing and contrasting pros and cons, weighing options and responses causes mental fatigue If you would like to learn more about our previous step in our “what’s next” journey check out this post.
I am a debater. Anyone who spends any length of time around me knows that I like to argue both sides of any issue. The Meyers-Briggs test agrees with that statement time and time again. However, even with my debate like personality and learner/input mind, I have blind spots. There are areas of growth and sin that I miss and cannot analyze my way to improvement. Because of this, I have to dive deeper and deeper into God dependence to shape the steps I take in order to mold me as a person who thinks and acts like Jesus. Here are three lessons I am relearning during our next step journey.
Be Patient – This is not natural for me. Let’s be honest. I like to make things happen. I like to create. I would say my lifestyle is made up of pushing the right buttons and always pushing for progress. Marked by a desire to succeed and accomplish, the process of patiently waiting seems so inefficient and wasteful. There are things to be done and hills to conquer. While that perception may appear to be true, I’ve noticed those traits are not found in a Spirit-led character in Galatians 5:22-23.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
I love this passage because Paul highlights a pervasive characterer of the Trinity that manifests itself in Jesus and ultimately in us through the Spirit. This character is not natural, rather a product of the supernatural. Patience is not natural. I swear no matter how you slice it. I have a toddler and a newborn. Both are extremely impatient when they want help, food, something to drink, a toy, my attention, etc. Drive, progress, opportunity, whether motivated by love or not, are still not mentioned; this is tough to swallow. Jesus was patient and did everything in The Father’s timing. He was patient for direction and He was patient with people. He sought the Father’s guidance in prayer. Why would I think my life needed to be much different? I must be patient and self controlled, not ready to rush into a situation or opportunity that may on the surface seem like a good idea and a logical one. Rather, in my dependence entirely on the Spirit, the Word, and prayer resolve myself to direct my eyes on Christ’s example. In following this example, I hope my life to be marked not by qualities that seem to benefit the short term, but character marked by eternity.
Communicate with openness – Its not easy to be transparent. Sometimes our unwillingness to be open about what is going in our life is a mask for our desire for control. We intentionally hold our cards too close to our chest. Openness is hard. Trust me. There has been overwhelming temptation to hide options when talking with a potential direction God may want us to go. It seems easy enough to leave out other potential options in fear that it may hinder that “option.”
God is great so we don’t have to be in control.
I have had to reaffirm my belief in that statement. At one point or another, if you claim to be a Christian you have subscribed to the belief that God is all powerful, sovereign, or in control (whatever your word of choice is). Yet, often our decision to hide where God is taking us places “self” on the platform that Jesus is supposed to occupy in our life. I would encourage anyone that they need to be open and communicate the reality of the situation with anyone you come into contact with. If you do not share with openness then you cease the believe God is really in control. When we share where God is taking us it can inspire and encourage, while also challenging and convicting. In sharing with a potential endeavor, communicating with openness can also bring to light the true character and direction of an organization/person because how they respond to you sharing where God is taking you, even in the uncertainty. I have found out this can be scary, especially when talking with other adults, because I have relinquished my ability to control the narrative. I must now resolve myself to fall at the feet of God and surrender my control. For clarity, transparent communication explains where God has you and is taking you while countering the fear of uncertainty and judgment. I always appreciate people being transparent about their motivations and reasoning backed up by action. Even though the conversation may be hard it is always worth it because in the long term there has been a better chance of a fruitful relationship.
Be Present – It is easy to get caught up in where you think God is taking you in the best possible future anticipation. But, as you focus on where you are going, often we forget where we are. And if we focus on where we are it tends to be through a negative lens because we are not where we want to be. It is even easy to get caught up in what we should be doing, but what are you doing with where you are right now. I cannot help but think of John 4. Jesus takes the disciples through Samaria on a short term missions trip. They did not want to be there. They did not like Samaria, as much as many Christians do not like Muslims, which is sad, but save that for another debate. They we so focused on getting through Samaria with Jesus, they did not stop to think about the people they were currently around–people who had an opportunity to hear the good news because they were traveling through. They were focused on the destination, not the journey. The destination was important. Jesus was about to make a bold proclamation. But like the disciples, we forget to get our eyes up off ourselves and our journey and look to those around us. Jesus is a great model for us. He was not only the savior for those he was with, but for the Samaritans as well. He was present–fully in tune with the situation and place where he was. Because of this, he was able to stop and engage a woman at the well in a loving and truthful way. The text says he had to go through Samaria, not because there was not another way to travel to Galillee, but because it was his Father’s will. It was also His will to go the Nazareth, but first through Samaria. Even as we have pursued church planting God has continually put John 4 on my heart that Ruth and I are in Grayson for a purpose and we have to be here now, so be here even through the destination may be somewhere else.
“Don’t you say, ‘There are still four more months, then comes the harvest’? Listen to what I’m telling you: Open your eyes and look at the fields, for they are ready for harvest.”
– John 4:35 HCSB
I look forward to sharing more about our journey soon! How is God working in your life? What are your blind spots? What is God teaching you?