Earlier I shared that this is the year I’m recommitting to follow Jesus – not just identify as a follower of His, but to actually follow where He leads, because somewhere in the last two years my life totally got off track.
And while we’re totally going to talk about what following looks like soon, and we already talked about setting areas of focus, we’re going to start with looking at how our lives can get so off track in the first place. Because it’s just as important to know where we don’t want to go as it is to know where we do want to go.
So how did I get off track, this woman who loves Jesus and tries to build her life around him? How did I get to a place where “Follow” had to become my word and where I need it, because Lord knows I’m off the well-paved path?
It can happen to any of us. And because my story might share pieces in common with your story, I’m going to bare a little bit more while we work through it together.
When I was healed at the end of my 20s, after years of serious illness, it was a hallelujah moment. God reached into the pit and pulled me out, and He did so by shaking up every single part of me (like when my world was turned upside down, when I lost it all, and when I was scared to take another step forward). He shook all the dirt off – the pain of the past, the stupid mistakes, the pride of life that made me think I was awesome just because I shook hands with celebrities and had a gold record on my wall. He shook off the unhealthy lifestyle and thought habits and the lack of love for myself that kept those bad habits in place. And He made me new. All over.
And then I thought, wow. Look at what the Lord has done. He’s set my feet on solid ground. He’s given me a new song to sing. And I wanted to help others see this, too. But for the life of me, I didn’t think I could ask Him for another little thing. Because He’d just done so much, He’d healed me, and He’d given me a second chance at life. And second chances are meant for living.
So I took off, like a newborn colt on unsteady legs with no idea how unequipped I was on my own strength. And I tried to build a life to say thank You, just like I’d tried to build a life to be OK before I was healed. I fell back into the very same self-sufficiency that Jesus just pulled me out of.
I knew all the truths inside and out, but I let others tell me where I was wasn’t enough. People in church, the business world, my life, and every where I went – people who hadn’t been lifted up out of the pit of illness and totally just given a brand new life – looked only at what they could see, not what is unseen, and told me it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to be redeemed and useful. It just looked like weakness and it could use a few more credentials if I ever thought I was going to serve.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not pointing fingers at anyone, because as Eleanor Roosevelt once (maybe) said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
I’m just saying somewhere along the line I got it into my head that I needed to work harder to be “ready” for God. Except that isn’t strength in weakness how our God always works?
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. – Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)
Those old fears set in that maybe this redeemed life wasn’t enough. Maybe I was supposed to make more of it the way everyone was telling me I should if I really wanted to give my life to Him. So back to school I went, back to debt I went (feeling like maybe He would make a path if everyone’s telling me He needs me to have an advanced degree to serve). And because I jumped back to debt, I jumped back to my old enemy, financial fear. Which led me to jump back into desperation mode. Which led to this place I found myself in last year before “Follow” became the word of the year.
I’m not arguing against training or credentials. They can be wonderful things when the Lord opens the door for them. I’m arguing against fear. Because for a short Cliff’s Notes version of how our lives fall way off track, this is how it works…
Lies (that we’re not good enough) lead to following our fears instead of faith, which leads us down the wrong path.
Print this out. Hang it up. Jot it in your journal. Because you may not know my whole story and I may have a lot more to tell, but take it from me. It all starts there. With the father of lies who wants nothing more than to get us back into a new shallow grave he’s digging convincing us that we’re not good enough to go wherever God is leading.
That’s how I got here. And that’s how most of us get to that place where we ask, “what happened to my life?” Because it’s easier to settle for safe than it is to follow God into what He has in store. But there’s good news that we don’t have to stay here, and the ditch I found myself in- sheerly by the grace of God and the Word He’s placed into my heart – isn’t as deep as the last.
So if you can relate, or if you’ve ever been in the ditch, how do we turn it all around? It all starts with following. Kissing yes-itis, people-pleasing, and the ways of this world goodbye, and following Jesus into fuller life. The life He died for us to have, because He loves us that much.
(Jesus speaking) The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. – John 10:10 (NLT)
And now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, and the compass I’m setting to follow (which is my fancy way of saying the things Jesus is asking me to focus on as I follow Him), let’s talk about why we follow Jesus and how we actually go about doing that, because sometimes the hardest thing is just knowing how to start. I’ll be posting more on that soon.
Do not disdain the small — because it’s the ordinary that adds up to the great. – Ann Voskamp
Now let’s chat. Have you ever been afraid to surrender something you know you need to surrender? Or follow a dream you know God’s placed into your heart? Or just be yourself in a world that tries to make us like everyone else? Do you believe God has better things in store?
Rob Seay Band – Better Days
Image by Stephanie Oh.