hearing God is not surrender

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My pastor said that on Sunday.

Hearing God does not mean we are surrendering to Him.

These words struck me, like an unwelcome plywood board to the head.

“You’re doing that,” God seemed to nudge me in the midst of the congregation. “You’re listening, but you’re not surrendering, and you’re definitely not trusting Me.”

See, I had been listening to God.  I knew He wanted me to be patient on this whole job search thing.  Yes, Lord. Of course, Lord. I am supposed to be patient, I got it. What was I doing though? Fighting it. Fighting it with all my being. I was desperately attempting to control my situation.

We can have a passive awareness of God’s instructions to us, without giving an active response

My pastor used the illustration of he and his brother being instructed to take out the trash by his grandmother.

“Take out the trash,” his grandmother told his older brother.

“Okay, one more minute, I will.” His brother would say, eyes glued to the television.

Where would his brother be in a minute? Sitting, eyes still staring at the screen.

His brother certainly heard his grandmother tell him to take out the trash. He certainly acknowledged that he heard his grandmother’s instructions. However, did he take action, and take out the trash? No.

He listened to his grandmother’s instructions, he even responded, but he did not follow them.

“You cannot follow someone if you stay where you are at.”

More nuggets of wisdom from my pastor.  If I want to truly follow God, I have got to listen and take action.

Not only that, but I have got to trust God. Again, more illustrations. My pastor utilized the illustration of a tightrope walker:


Now, this tightrope walker was highly praised by his fans. They cheered him on as he walked across canyons,  juggled batons in between buildings… he was the best. They told him so, too. 

However, one day the tightrope walker was performing a new act, this time bringing out a wheelbarrow. He pushed this wheelbarrow across the tiny tightrope wire, and returned to the other side to his cheering fans. 

“You’re the best,” one man cheered. 

“Why don’t you jump in then, and I will wheel you across?” the tightrope walker motioned to his cart.

As you can guess, the man vehemently refused, because while he praised the tightrope walker’s skill, he did not trust him entirely.


We do the same thing with God.

“Yes, God. You can do anything, God. You’re amazing. Perfect. Powerful. I trust you with my life, God.” However, when it comes down to it, we don’t trust Him.

Jump into my wheelbarrow, God says. I will wheel you across this canyon.

But we stay on the sidelines.

To trust God takes more than lip service. It takes surrender, giving up your white-knuckled grip on whatever it is you are holding onto so tightly. 

Needless to say, after that sermon, I owed God a confession and an apology.  This whole job search… I hadn’t surrendered it to God. Not only that, I had definitely not trusted Him with it.

So here I am, trying again. I want to do this the right way. I believe God will provide. Whatever the timeline, however long the wait is.. I am trusting God this time. I am surrendering this whole thing to Him. I am surrendering my fears of unemployment, my fears of being unworthy and lacking purpose. I trust Him to be my identity, my confidence, my source of peace and joy. I am jumping in the wheelbarrow, and saying “sure, Dad, go ahead and wheel me across. I trust You.”

I hope you can glean some insight and wisdom for your own life from this post. I pray that God opens your eyes and hearts too, as He has opened mine.

Peace and blessings, friends.

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“I did it my way.”

These are the lyrics to the famed Frank Sinatra song apparently most popularly played among funerals, according to my pastor’s sermon notes.

How sad, he had noted. We live in a world so eager to mold their viewpoint to the brawn of man, instead of the faith of the humble. We want so bad to lean on our own strength, our own understanding.

Even yesterday, I found my own self guilty of it.

Feeling lost and a bit overwhelmed, I found myself combing through the articles of my favorite self-help/lifestyle blogs, hoping to find the key to unlock my job search and career finding woes.

I think if I keep searching, reading articles, a light will go off. The fireworks will set off, the trumpets sound. I will have found my calling.

I will. By myself.

But the reality of things is so different.

If I would only wait, have patience. It is not in my own strength.

I admit, this is so difficult.

I find myself in tears more days than not, with malicious thoughts leering from the shadows of my mind.

Even today I found myself entrenched in a dark cloud again. A tearful storm of self-pity, self-loathing engulfed me, pulling into question my faith in God during this job search.

I just want to be in control of my environment again, was the nasty thought plaguing my mind, as if I am somehow justified in wanting to be god of my own existence.

Christianity isn’t easy. No one said you always get the cake with the buttercream icing.

No, Christianity is about servitude, glorifying the God of the heavens and earth. Why should I be deserving of such a title?

My meditation today features a weeping mess of me laying out all of my doubts and worries in front of Him. Being honest, revealing to God that I was indeed having trouble trusting Him, but that I wanted to, was healing for me. God knows our hearts, there is no use in hiding.

I give God control of my situation. I lay down my pride, my expectations. I praise God, because He is good, regardless of any outcome in life.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11 is the verse ringing in my head these days. On days like this, when life has been pressing like a weight into my soul, I hold fast to this verse.

God has good plans for me. He said so, and God always does what He says He will do. He is trustworthy, I just have to lean into His plan.

I have to abandon all else, all other sense of self-righteous selfish desires, and do it His way.

At the end of my life, I don’t want to hear Frank Sinatra crooning about doing it my way. This life is fleeting, barely a glimpse of eternity.

At the end of my life, I want to hear my Heavenly Father saying, “Well done, good and faithful Servant.“

give up and be the gas pedal

I am not going to lie. I have been discouraged. While I have painstakingly filled out application after application..most of them taking an hour or more, only to have one even give me an interview.

Maybe it is my availability, or my lack of management experience. Maybe it is my age, or maybe my painstakingly crafted resume is not the masterpiece I thought.

The job offered to me.. it is honestly not the job I want. It is not glamorous, nor is it what my university promised would come of my shiny new degree.

You probably guessed it. That was spoken from the depths of a prideful heart.  I have been struggling between what part of job searching is limited by my pride, and what part is limited by understanding that I am capable of adding a valuable contribution to the work force.

I keep praying for clarity. Some kind of sign, some golden nugget of wisdom hidden along the path, perhaps some revelation of which direction to go.

God can open doors, but He expects you to walk through them.

So I am jiggling door handles. A resume there, an application there.

I am remaining hopeful.

God, I give you my dreams. 

Thus far, God has given me beyond what I could hope for. Pulling back, letting go, and letting Him put in the work resulted in reuniting with the love of my life, moving cities, and getting into a cozy little apartment.

I am not sure what the future looks like. I have every fear, every negative self-doubt pulsating in my ears.

The Lord is my confidence, and my strength. That is my battle cry going forward.

Regardless of the outcome of the war within, God is still good.

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

That verse gives me comfort through times as tumultuous as these.

Though I cannot see what is past the horizon, I know that God has great plans for me. He will be there every step of the way. If I let Him, He will guide each step. But I have to let Him.

So I am giving up and giving it to God.

He has the steering wheel. I will hit the gas pedal, and trust He knows the route and end destination. Thus far, I have found myself taking wrong turn, after wrong turn, after wrong turn.

What will the future look like if I just let the Almighty Potter craft His clay? What beautiful masterpiece could come of this?

Lord, I trust in Your almighty plan. You are the brilliant creative behind this mysterious life… I pray for wisdom moving forward, and that You would align and direct my path as You see fit. I am exhausted of doing this on my own accord, let me find peace and rest in You, God. Be my guide, my confidence, my strong tower when I am weak. I trust You.

Amen.

the small voice in the desert

Today, I write to write.

What is the outcome? I don’t know. Will I share this? I haven’t yet decided.

I’m not sure if this post will be helpful..probably not.

I guess today I write because I want to write again. I have words pulsing through my soul, waiting to be unearthed and shared with the world.

I have this ability within me..why do I let doubt get in the way?

Fears of not being good enough, not knowing enough. Being ridiculed, made a mockery..I don’t know why this keeps me silent. Why, when I so value the thoughts and opinions of others, I find no value in my own?

It’s interesting, to say the least. A mystery I haven’t quite solved yet.

I think this is a good first step. A post with perhaps no objective, no goal. No words of advice or tidbits of wisdom to be shared. Just a still, small voice, calling out in the desert.

Perhaps no one will hear it. Perhaps no one will care.

But.. perhaps…perhaps this is the beginning of a shout. Perhaps this is the beginning to a triumphant melodious song, and I will soon celebrate victory with trumpets and drums. Perhaps this party of one will turn into a parade someday. So maybe I should keep trying.

So here is my still, small voice.

May it give you strength to find your own.

Chomping at the bit

I am so bored with my life.

It is a good life. No argument there.

I have recently married, moved to a new city, and landed a pretty sweet job.

However, I cannot help but feel something is missing.

My passion lately feels dead. I feel like my cup of zest for life is empty, the only movement being the tumbleweeds rolling across my own personal desert. I have long since abandoned this platform, as the words on my lips disintegrate at my fingertips. Though I have desired to write, it has been some time since my thoughts have thread together into complete ideas.

Where do I go from here?

I cry out to God, desperate for answers. All I can hear currently is to continue to be patient.

I get it. I want to be patient. Still, I am chomping at the bit for a change.

Anything. Please, God, give me a thirst for life again.

Is it my thirst for heaven and an eternity’s respite from the trials and tribulations of this earthly life? What am I missing here?

No answer.

I do not mean to complain, I just genuinely feel I am wasting my time on this Earth. What am I contributing worthwhile here?

Still no answer.

I guess I will continue to wait.

 

 

coffee stains

We all have coffee stains in our storybooks.

We all have little moments in history that feel to be a dark blot on our storyline, something we may wish we could erase or forget. But there it remains, a stain on our otherwise perfectly crisp, clean pages.

However, we forget that everyone has coffee stains in their lives. Everyone has been through a dark time in their life, or been dealt a bad hand. We all experience a part of life less than memorable. However, like a coffee spill on a blank page, these stains can even be aromatic, familiar to loved ones who have went through or experienced something similar. Sometimes it makes us more relatable, more human.

Some people call it baggage, but I refuse to own that label. I believe that, in this life, everything we do or experience shapes us in some way, and those little coffee stains are what make us our little storybooks unique.

We shouldn’t attempt to hide or downplay these moments in life. These moments in life don’t define you, they are merely part of the plot line that led your life. We can choose to grow through them or attempt to hide them away.

Own your coffee stains. Everybody’s got em.

tiny adventures

The Hamptons. Cruises in the Atlantic. Hikes in Machu Picchu.

It must be nice to vacation at an expensive, extravagant destination, right? I have never been to any of those, and they sound pretty luxurious. I will also probably never make it to any of those destinations, as there are only cobwebs in my wallet.

However, I believe it is important to have a little vacation, occasionally. In fact, I like to call them tiny adventures. Especially when life starts to feel a little stagnant, I believe it is important to do little things to add a sense of momentum or novelty to our day. Sometimes we just need to stir the pot a little.

I took a tiny adventure today. I went driving through the backroads near my house. It was not a long drive by any stretch, as my gas light was starting to threaten to blink orange, and the clouds threatened rain. However, on this drive, as I blared my music (it was “I Said Hi,” by Amy Shark, and super empowering, by the way) and felt my fingers trace the wind, I felt my soul rejuvenate a little. Lately, life has been a little dim, that’s no lie. But today I caught that little glimmer of sun, the little glimmer of hope for things on the horizon.

Because today I got to pause, and take in the world in a unique way. There were rows of corn I had never seen before, tucked away neatly into the local wildlife, there were rolling hills that had bypassed my eye. Lush greens, gurgling, bubbling creeks. All right up under my nose. Between the cracks in the dismal tedium of my every day, I found new life. My soul found new life blood in a tiny adventure.

When is the last time you took a tiny adventure? What can you do that is cheap, free, or breaks the monotony of routine for just a moment? I encourage you guys to break the routine, try something. Rejuvenate your soul with a tiny adventure.

hope

I wish I could escape it. This dark night. Everywhere I turn, shadow, shadow, shadow.. dark figures are my only friends in this ghost town. Like clockwork, the Moon dawns again, his bright luminescence glowering coldly over this recurring nightmare. Again he circles, over and over, and I wonder where he goes for the brief moment he disappears beyond the horizon.

I have a secret. Every morning, I wake, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Sun. She’s beautiful, Her shimmering hair crowning Her bronzed and powerful complexion. Deep within me I know She has hidden power, a mysterious and golden goddess whose long absence has yet to be explained. I caught Her, just once, peaking between clouds, stealing a furtive glance, then chased away by a horde of marching burning, angry stars. It didn’t always used to be this way. There is a memory folded neatly between the paper walls of my mind, back when She ruled the summer, when Southern humidity, was the only condensation wetting my face. I remember Sunshine, how it felt encompassing my skin, Her kiss dispersing even the darkest shadows of my heart. I remember Sunrise and Sunset, the sky blooming cherry red, creamsicle orange, sometimes blessed with swaths of imperial purple … It has been years, but I hold those hazy summers close to my heart. There is a Feeling tucked away somewhere, camouflaged in the depths of my memory. It is only a flicker, but radiates white gold. I reach out in dreams to touch it, but as familiar as it appears, it dissipates into the space between my head and the pillow. I know this Feeling is what I need, somehow my gut knows this alone can unlock the prison of eternal night. This Feeling holds the key.

Subsequently, every morning I rise from my bed, and slip on my shoes. My dreams echo the Feeling, propelling me to the window. So I pull back the curtain, and look for the Sun.

you are not alone

Today,

My fear is crippling. All I want to do right now is to disappear into the cavity in my chest.

Today,

I do not have the strength to vocalize, or fight the anxiety stifling each breath.

Today,

Is a battle that cannot be won, though my knuckles are bloodied and fists clenched.

Today,

I embrace the storm, knowing even the strongest must fade into breaths of wind.

Today,

I focus on holding on, despite pain, despite sorrow.

Today,

I put my hope into tomorrow.