I have been on a journey of freedom this past three weeks. To open myself up to seeing all of the things that God wants to transform in my life and giving him the free reign to change me, to change my life and to shed light on my foot path. It is not easy. Taking responsibility for the freedom God has already granted me through Christ and actually doing the work has been brutal. But the most incredible part is that despite what is hard to see, what is hard to accept about who I have been and who I am in this moment is that God renews me everyday with a sense of hope that this hard work will be rewarded in ways that I will never fully know until I see him face to face.
That said, if anyone reading this knows anything about me, they know I am a fixer. God gave me a heart for service from the moment I was born. When my little sister came into this world when I was four years old I was determined to protect her. That spirit of protection and service has led me to running to save anyone who calls me up to say they need saving. I am the forever life guard at the pool. Sitting on the edge of my tall chair, overlooking those treacherous pool waters, waiting to blow my whistle and come to the rescue.
Broke down on the side of the road? I’m on my way!
Don’t feel good? Let me bring you some soup!
Can’t finish something? Let me do it so I can free you up for better things!
This isn’t a bad thing, but something that I realized during my journaling time is that I spend so much time trying to save everyone else that I forget to save me. “Only one life preserver? Let me give you mine as my head dips under water.” It even happens when I am journaling during MY personal time with GOD! Writing to the collective “WE” instead of requesting Him to work on me and my walk.
Let me explain before you start thinking that I have decided to become a self involved jerk who doesn’t care about people anymore.
Four days ago, I was up before the sun, as I am dedicating the first portion of my day to my time with God and my relationship with Him and if that time is going to happen, distraction free, I get to get up at 4am. (See that I said get to, not have to). I concluded my study and the prayer journal that I have gives you space for what verse impacted you, what observations you had through the study, the application of the verses and then a place to pray about what you learned.
I wrote down my notes, began writing my prayer for the lesson and went on with my day.
The next morning I got up at 4am, began my study and when my prayer time came, I noticed something. Even when I pray after MY time with God, I was using the collective we, seemingly looking to share a lesson with the world that lives inside my journal despite this being my time to spend with my Creator. I am still trying to save all the world in that time, not wholly focused on how I can change, but focused on how, “Maybe if I pray for the whole world, and write this for everyone, things will be better.”
Now maybe you always write your journal entries from your perspective. I am grateful that you do! It was a stunning realization to me that even in time I set aside for God and for me, I am still trying to save the world. Now this isn’t bad, per say. We know God wants us to share his message and his word, be a light unto this world. (Isaiah 49:6) But when I (notice I let myself be the focus here for a moment) focus on saving the world in MY time with God, I dilute the words, the messages and the change he wants to provoke in me. This is His time, the first part of my day. In my eagerness to give him my morning, I forgot that I need to give him my heart and my mind and my soul in those minutes too. No one else is there with me but God, so for those moments, I don’t have to save the world.
To let myself be in his presence, to see that I am worthy to let God focus on me, and do the work in me. I cannot be a better servant, a better leader, a better __________(you fill in the blank) if I don’t first open myself to let God do his work in me. In all of the lessons that God showed me, this hurt my heart to know that even though I so long for that intimate relationship that I was still so focused on how He could equip me to save the world, I didn’t think about how I be a better light and I could save so many more people if I let Him save me first.
The enemy would have us think that it is selfish to think of ourselves or focus on ourselves. That celebrating daily victories will be a stumbling block and create selfish hearts instead of allowing us to stay selfless and humble. The enemy is a liar and he is wrong.
A sweet friend of mine shared with me yesterday that she often beats herself up during the day when she has those little victories. She checks off those little boxes on her list of things to accomplish for the day and then rebukes the good work she has done because she doesn’t want to become boastful or self centered by giving herself credit for completion. Those little victories are gifts from God, not for us to boast in ourselves, but boast in Him who got us through those moments. Our days and weeks are comprised of those little moments, and those victories are His! Let us remember that God created us in His image, and that every single one of us matters. Stand firm in the truth that if that Creator of the Universe, the Great I am, felt the need to create a you for this world, and loves you and believes you matter, then you DO!
We can claim the good feelings it comes when we serve, when we work hard and reach our goals. It isn’t boastful to let ourselves be built up in our lives. We can’t shine God’s light if we bury the good works He has given us to do. We just have to remember that as we take the credit we deserve to be humble, give thanks to God for those victories and keep pushing forward.
The two easiest paths to live in are to take too much credit and give no thanks, no Glory to God for it and be boastful or to live in self deprecating behavior that causes you to become your own doormat as you let fear of becoming selfish and self centered prevent you from the joyful life God wants for you.
It is NOT, I repeat, it is NOT selfish to let yourself celebrate your victories, nor is it selfish to let yourself enjoy the things that God has placed in your life. He wants you to have joy in all things! It is however a choice on how you respond. You can choose to become self centered, or you can choose to stay God centered.
As the lesson fully continued to sink in yesterday, I realized that we matter so much to God, that He wants us to love ourselves the way He loves us. He gave His life for us, for a joyful abundant life, not a lack luster life of disgruntled sacrifice.
When we abandon our victories or boast over them, it diminishes what God is doing and breaks it down to a worldly view instead of His. It steals credit from God, steals the glory in what He is doing. It takes those potential moments of praise and worship, moments to share what God is doing in your life and makes them ordinary. There is absolutely nothing ordinary about God! There is also nothing ordinary about you.
Let me say this to you dear one, you reading this, I wasn’t accepting victory every day, I wasn’t writing in my journal about me, and the most painful realization came this morning as I chose to journal about my journey with God and what I want Him to do in MY life. I wasn’t allowing God to work on me, I was just reading to learn. If I want to see 1,000 generations of lives changed by taking a step toward breaking generational bonds, and NOT creating more curses, I have to realize two things.
- The work starts with me and in me.
- The enemy only has the authority I give him.
We are already victorious. We have no need to wake up every day and ‘put on the armor of God” As deliverance Pastor and faithful man of God, Don Dickerman said, “Where do you hang it up and why do you take it off?” We were suited up in the full armor of Christ when we accepted him into our lives. It doesn’t come off, it is however up to us to use it. Christ has given us victory over the enemy and over the grave. VICTORY! A huge win that we can stand on. He gave us the word of truth, and that word is here for you to stand on and have victory every day. Don’t give your daily victories to the enemy! The enemy lost the war, and every day his job is to steal the joy from you, and to steal the glory of victory you could give to your Heavenly Father. Give them back to God, stand on His word for your victory. We are not waging a war that God has not already won. We are merely fighting for our ability to daily impact lives and live in relationship with God.
The truth for me today is that God believes that I deserve to live in victory in Him, that I deserve to have joy in all moments, and he believes that I was created to make a difference. What if, we chose every morning to start with what God believes in us instead of the world?
Let the sword of truth pierce your heart today, and as 1 Kings 8:61 says, “May your hearts be fully committed to the Lord our God.” Be committed to God, to the transformation of your heart and mind, the renewing of your spirit and the hope we have in Christ Jesus.
God can make us whole again, but only if we let him. My relationship with God is about him and about me, together. The world is in there too, but I have to start giving God the space to work in me before I can take on the world.
Here is an excerpt from my ME centered prayer this morning. One last realization came as I prepared to share this with you, when I let God change me, when I let God focus on rebuilding me and my heart, I am empowered by HIS spirit to serve and help others. I am strengthened to serve at a higher level. And I can be a brighter light in this world when I don’t let the enemy dim it. Have hope. God can redeem and renew anyone who gives him their heart and their life. Read Jeremiah 17:9-10 and verse 14. (I am using The Message Bible here)
“The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be. VS 14: God, pick up the pieces. Put me back together again.”
I don’t know the way. Every unknown path is dark to me. You are my light. Let me let go of the wall that I have been using for so long to keep my balance and my footing. This wall that keeps me from letting you steady my walk. Take my hands, guide my steps and create in my the heart of a servant who carries your lamp to share your hope, your forgiveness and your truth.
I am ready to see you move. Fill me with courage to face what comes against me as I boldy step out of the comfortable darkness that conceals the mistakes and shortcomings I have and instead bring me into your light and expose everything to truth. I am yours. Be Near to me, Oh God.
In the mighty name of my Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Amen.”