Close your eyes and imagine one of your goals. Accomplished. Complete with recognition and whatever the associated “crowning glory” may be. I am a visual person. So every, and I mean EVERY, goal I set I have this image in my head of what it will look like. I mean this is full production in my head. The conversations I will have, how I can share it on my blog to encourage others and yes how I can shut a few nay-sayers up. Because part of the “payoff” of my goals includes helping others, I never really considered myself to be self-centered. We all like a little accolade now and then for work well done. It’s only human, right.
And there it is. The answer to this wall I have been hitting for the past week or so. It is only human. How can I die to the flesh if my thought process is still “I’m only human”? This is not plaguing every area of my life but it is a serious obstacle. Using the excuse “I am only human” is throwing cold water on the draw of power as a Child of God. Honestly, that ain’t the only thing.
I doubted God in December. Not blatant where everyone could see it, it was in my finances. For three weeks or so in December I did not tithe. I had my head buried in planning our bills, buying Christmas and because I could not see it on paper…I doubted. Then I disobeyed by not writing out the check. Someone is probably saying it is not that big of a deal, but let me tell you…it is.
I spent most of 2016 trying to obey God as things were revealed to me. Tithe was one of the first. I can testify that God makes a way. Money showed up we did not expect, a refund or gift card. Sometimes I just could not explain how we made it from one paycheck to the next. I let my guard down and the doubt creeped right on in. Part of my “deal” with myself, is I would resume my tithe with the new year. I have. In fact I set it up on auto pay so it is always the first thing out on payday. That act of disobedience opened a door where the enemy could attack. And attack he did.
Count It Down
- Too much “I”
- Habit is not enough
- Obey not Clear my Schedule
I started the 21 day fast on Monday with big plans of how I would conquer this fast. After all, because I am a child of God, I am a conqueror. It almost sounds convincing, but there was way too much “I” in my plan. Instead of a triumphant, serene woman plowing through the fast…today I feel much more like a person clothed in burlap, pleading for mercy. I have run this in my head all day long. I have been praying. Some days with more authority than others, but I have prayed DAILY. I have been in my bible. I am working on a reading plan, a bible study and a devotional. Like most habits every now and then I miss a morning (usually a Saturday or Sunday). Clue number 2 – Habit. I should be reading my bible daily and praying but it should be more than a habit. Habits are things we do all the time, without really thinking. I should not pray or read my bible without thinking. Without focus and diligence it is just a habit. I had slipped somewhere between seeking wisdom and checking something off my “to do” list.
The third and most obvious barrier was obedience. There was the tithe issue. There was not reaching out to that person I felt pulled to contact. There was trying to plan everything without consulting God in prayer. I was not out doing anything terrible, but the guilt was almost heavier than any sin I recall. I was still serving and working for the good of the kingdom. WHY was I not feeling connected? My family is closer than ever. I have friends and wonderful loving support in my church family. Why was I doubting? Why was I afraid? Why, why, why?
The Foot of the Cross
The youth service message last night was titled “Abide”.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 5:15 NSV)
I had been abiding in “I” instead of abiding in “Him”. Apart from God, I would never break through this wall I was hitting. The worst part, is I thought I was doing pretty good. Till all the pieces fell into place. Last night the message struck me and as we took communion I prayed for revelation. I wanted to know “what am I doing wrong”. I left church with more peace, but still longing for an answer.
Today, in my Facebook feed I read a message from Adalis Shuttlesworth of Revival Today for January 5th. Let me just tell you the title: I Will Be Obedient to God’s Instruction. I was available to God, but I was not walking in total obedience. I have spent weeks banging my head wanting to know why God was not directing me. First, I need to up my obedience game. Second, I need to shut up. I need to shut-up my doubts with prayer and scripture commanding and standing on God’s promise. I also just need to shut-up and listen. I need to listen to what God is telling me in the quiet of scripture or in the pull in my heart. I need to approach my faith with the same raw, ferocity that I often attack my writing. I never consider how what I write will be received…until it is already out there. (My future editor will likely cry over this fact.) Once it is out there I just roll with it. I take the good and the bad and I grow from it. That boldness needs to be part of my faith walk everyday…IRL. (That’s “in real life” for all the people without gamers in their lives.)
Where To Now?
Now, I am going to go read more in my bible. I am going to marinate on what I read and seek wisdom. Then I am going to make dinner and finish my evening with my family, watching the snow fall softly outside. Then tomorrow I am going to get up and get in my bible. I am going to pray. I am going to Fast. Tomorrow is between God and I. While I drive for work we are going to be talking. When I get home, we are going back in that bible together. I am going to trust in God to remove the “I” in my efforts. I want the things I do to be good. Everything good comes from God. I cannot even achieve my goals without God being first.
Thank God I do not have to be perfect. I thank Him far more that I am forgiven.