Yesterday, something that my pastor, Pastor Mark Batterson, said hit home:
What possession are you holding onto, what thing are you chasing so fervently, that you’ve gone from possessing it to it possessing you.
That thing stung, y’all. I mean, lower-your-head-rasie-your-hand-and-say-ouch kinda conviction there.
For the past week or so I’d just felt so tired, physically, emotionally, mentally. Drained.
No amount of sleep was fixing it. No amount of meditating was doing it. Not even prayer did the trick.
And then Pastor Mark said that, and it all came together.
In the span of a few minutes God revealed to me the source of my fatigue: I’d somehow moved from chasing God to chasing other things and those other things.
Now, before you go and get all high and mighty on me, I’ll share that the “other things” were family things: more money to pay tuition; more clothes for the kids for the fall; more, more, more…stuff.
I’d somehow become so driven to give more and do more that I forgot that God is our source and our everything. He knows what we need, what we desire, and if we seek him first, as it says in Matthew 6:33, then all good things will be added to us.
It was hard to hear that I’d gone from relying on God to provide to driving myself into the ground trying to do things on my own, but it was a welcomed revelation because after I repented and quietly sought God’s guidance to understand what my wrong priorities were and how I’d gotten then, I was freed from the fatigue and the heaviness and the burden. I could go back to joyfully and freely depending on the one and only true provider, God Himself.
I bet if you were honest with yourself there are times – or have been times – where you too have strayed. Perhaps your story is like mine where you sought God consistently and earnestly for godly promotion, and when you got it you all of sudden thought you had to make things happen, achieve greatness and success, by yourself and in your own might. But how many of you know that there’s no way to succeed alone in what God has ordained and divinely gifted to you?
I know that now.
Or maybe that’s not your story. Maybe you started out genuinely trying to be a Proverbs 31 woman, or a man after God’s own heart, on a path closely tied to scripture. But somewhere along the way the competition of arriving “there” first and better overshadowed the journey of traveling in trust with God, and now you feel overpowered by a spirit of drive and competition and acquiring more stuff: more titles, more money, more things, more status.
Whatever the origin, chances are that you are now feeling a heaviness and a tiredness that you can’t put your finger on. You’re getting more sleep. Exercising. Trying to eat better. You’re trying to take time throughout the day to be quiet, to unplug. But you just can’t shake this feeling of…burden, desperation. This feeling that no matter how far you’ve come there’s still infinitely farther to go and you’ll never get there.
See, that is evidence of being overtaken by a maverick spirit. A spirit of discontent (remember Paul who famously learned to be content no matter his circumstances in Philippians 4), selfishness and/or covetousness have befallen you and without revelation from God you won’t be able to shake it.
That’s what the enemy does best I think. He waits along the wayside, watching us follow God blindly and joyfully. Then he waits until God gives us a taste of that which we’d sought Him for before starting to wedge himself between us and God. He’s discrete about it at first: the job we prayed for doesn’t pay EXACTLY what we wanted so now we want to work harder to earn a bonus or get ahead faster. Or the car/iPhone/thing we couldn’t wait to have just a few months ago is now yesterday’s news, so we’re unhappy, focusing now on getting the next best thing.
Or even in our relationships. That husband or that wife that we prayed for forEVER is, we later find, HUMAN (shocker) and it looks easier to start anew somewhere else than to put in the work where we’re planted.
It can happen to any of us. And if we’re honest, it has happened more than one. But the great thing about the God we serve is that He’s merciful, always extending His grace to us. He’s patient, waiting for us to want to come back to Him. And He wants nothing more than the absolute best for us. But He wants us to want it, His way. And in order to ensure that we do, He’s willing to wait. He’ll wait until we open our hands to release that thing we’re holding on to, pursing recklessly, obsessed with achieving on our own…He waits. And when we’re ready, He unfurls His beautiful plan and blessings before us inviting us to once again follow Him.
There is someone reading this now who all of sudden realizes that my story, this story I’ve just shared, is your testimony right now. You somehow became so blinded by what you wanted and were working for – which could very well be a God-given dream/goal – that you’ve stopped following the One who gave you the dream chasing the dream itself instead.
Well, I have good news for you: it’s not too late to get back on track. It’s not too late to say, “Un-uh, promotion/boyfriend/girlfriend/new car/new phone/new thing/stuff, I want you, but only if it’s what God wants for me.” And once you repent, and let God show you where you went astray, you’re restored to right standing with Him, just like that. Seriously, it’s that easy! Then that heaviness, that burden, that discontent, that discomfort, they’ll all melt away and the joy that God promised us, the peace He said was our for the taking, it’ll come back.
Today I am a new woman because I repented, God forgave me, and I’m back on track. The reality is that I’ll never feel like I have enough money or am giving enough to my kids. That’s the way life in this world is; we’re conditioned to feel inadequate so we can constantly consume the “stuff” the world is forcing on us. But today, right now, in this moment, I am content in knowing that my Father in Heaven wants the absolute best for me; He has a plan to give it to me; and I don’t have to do anything extra to earn it other than love and follow Him. Period.
You know, there’s something else that Pastor Mark said yesterday that still sticks with me. He said, “If God loves you and plans to give you life and life more abundantly. Then the devil hates you and he has a plan to harm you.”
We are spiritual beings living in a natural world. As Pastor Mark said, we were born right in the middle of a battlefield between God and the enemy. It’s the devil’s job to make our life hard, to get us off track from time to time, because only when we realize that we’re off track can we experience the renewal of being restored, redeemed and rebirthed into God’s light and goodness for us.
So shake off the weights that are weighing you down! God’s waiting to restore your joy and peace and contentment.
This may not be a typical devotion, but it’s the square biz folks. Because I love you and I want God’s best for you!