This is what I know…
God is relational. He wants a personal, ongoing, invested relationship with each of us. This sounds fantastic right? He actually wants to be with us, but how does it work? There is a formula to how God moves in our lives. He also has some expectations for us as well. Look at it like this, anything we are interested in or value naturally receive our time and effort, in hopes of cultivating success. It could be a friendship, relationship or even a new invention. Whatever it is, we know that to make it better, we have to invest personal time and energy. This may come in the form of communicating needs and wants, learning a new system and/or applying what we learned to bring success.
My personal walk with God has developed in what I call “segments of time” over the last 15 years. I can remember the first two things, I had to overcome. How to put my TRUST in a God I cannot visually see or really understand by choosing to give him CONTROL over my life. This was the most difficult choice I ever made because like so many of you, I grew up in a dysfunctional environment. At the age of 11 years, I told myself, “I must now become an adult and bridge the gap between two parents who were unable to see the byproduct of their choices.” When they divorced, my childhood left in a blink and in its place an innate desire to control and manipulate my world took over. Throughout my 20’s and despite even serving in the military, I always found a way to put complete trust in me and control my environment. Or at least, that is what I thought, I was doing. Though, no matter how hard I worked or tried to show my potential, something or someone would somehow sabotage it. I remember learning that hard work alone will not bring automatic success but also playing the game was essential to moving up. ‘Playing the game’ typically resulted in putting others down to gain traction or somehow showing disloyalty in face of opposition, to win. The motto was “there can only be one winner and to win might involve trampling on others and this is okay.” I made a personal promise, I would never justify using someone else for personal gain. If my hard work didn’t pay off then try and try again.
By the end of my 20’s, I was faced with the realization “the control” I thought I had, wasn’t control at all. In a split second, someone in a big leather chair sitting behind a big brown desk could change my choices with a slap of a pen. Honestly, what control do we really have in this world? It became clear that if the right conditions were met, any one of us could end up on the streets. That is when fear stepped in and my world became dark and sullen. Believe me, in my analytical mind if there was a way to overcome this blatant unfairness, I was going to figure out how.
Believing in a God based on what I knew of him, as a cold distant and authoritative God was going to be a challenge. I remember thinking, I always believed in God and Christ as his son who chose to die on the cross for the sins of humanity just because he wanted to, and if we chose to accept this gift of grace and salvation, we might get a good life after all. Of course, that would depend how long I could follow strict rules and guidelines. I thought well, I will focus on Christ and leave the God part alone for a while he seems too distant and untouchable anyhow. I remember sitting on my bed and saying “God as long as I can deal with the consequences of my choices, I’ll be okay, so leave me alone please.” Yep, I said that with conviction at the age of 18 years, I believed I was in charge. I’m sure you can imagine the trouble I found myself in due to sheer stupidity and naivety. The only thing that came out of that nonsense was way more baggage than I could possibly handle.
THERE IS A STRUCTURE TO GOD’S MADNESS
First, you must have FAITH in something you cannot see or hear, but you just know in that beating heart of yours, He is real. Second, you come to a place of WANTING TO PLEASE GOD, and in turn, the desire to CONFESS the bad thoughts or things you’ve done flow from your lips. I call this repentance. The simple choice to confess, confessing our wrongdoings before God in hopes to be FORGIVEN. Third, choosing to SURRENDER all aspects of our lives is essential. This step can be a one-stop shop or a step you revisit often, one surrendering moment at a time. Thank God, for his unwavering patience and an enduring love we cannot begin to understand! Fourth, you must decide if choosing to walk in OBEDIENCE is worth it or not. Once you choose to surrender an aspect of your life such as finances, marriage or thought life…a level of obedience must develop. Fifth, walking in daily obedience slowly but assuredly brings about a desire to want to be more and more like Christ. You want to walk in HOLINESS. You desire to be set free from the daily worries and anxieties the world has to offer, instead opting for peace and hope only given when our hearts are fully open to receive. The good news is, God has already instilled this desire and hope within, we were born with it. You just need to acknowledge its existence and awaken it. And to think this can come naturally with little or no effort on your end is what walking with God is really, all about. Learning how to place your complete trust in Him despite what your rational mind might suggest. It is a continual process that unfolds in many layers, forms and steps over short or long periods of time. I promise, eventually if your heart’s desire is to honor God and want to be a success in his eyes, it will happen. Most of the time you won’t even be aware of it until someone tells you how different you are becoming. It will not be easy and it may even be the hardest decision you ever make. But the good news, it’s your choice and no one can take it away. It is in your complete control to choose God’s grace and salvation.
I know, it sounds so inviting yet so untouchable. How on earth can anyone attain that? I can’t even keep myself from swearing every ten minutes, so how am I going to do that? It’s simple. You don’t do anything! In fact, the harder you try, the longer you will stay stagnant in that aspect of your walk. It’s not like 12 steps to sobriety or success up the corporate ladder. It isn’t about zenning and learning how to hum your way to peace, you can’t ascend to it, you can’t call it into action and you definitely can’t make a success board and say it into existence. It is gift that is freely given to each and every one of us. You must ASK and desire to do your PART in cultivating a heart that is pliable and teachable. REMEMBER IT ALL BEGINS and ends with THE HEART.
God speaks to and from our hearts. Our minds have to be in alignment with our hearts. To know God, we must first know Christ. To know Christ, we must read the bible. Not just read it, but meditate on the living word scripture provides. To fully understand how to accomplish this, you will need a personal guide, a counselor of sorts. His name is HOLY SPIRIT OR HOLY GHOST. Christ promised he would give us a portion of him, to be with us at all times, to lead us into greater understanding and awareness, to teach things our human mind could not otherwise, comprehend. He is the one who took the physical place of Jesus by placing a portion of him into our spiritual self. He teaches and prepares our hearts, at the request of Heavenly Father, to grow spiritual eyes, ears to hear, and hearts to receive the secrets of his kingdom. The Holy Spirit equips us to become what we were called to be before our conception. Each of us has a vital part to play in this big grand scale of life. We are all predestined to play a role in advancing God’s kingdom. We are all important and necessary; no one is greater than the next in the eyes of God. We are equal.
INTERWORKING OF FAITH
Now that you have chosen to plug-in to your predestined path, a REBIRTH must occur. When Christ told the people of his time to believe, and they will receive a new body and mind, he wasn’t being metaphorical. When we are saved by actively confessing that Christ is God who walked in the flesh to forgive us of our sins, to admit we can’t do it alone and actively receive the gift of salvation, we are instantly reborn into his kingdom. We are no longer subject to this world, Lucifer’s world. We are on our way to salvation one step at a time. Many believe that being physically immersed in water through a ceremonial baptism is essential. I say, why not? It is an opportunity to confess your allegiance to God’s army and then asking to be baptized in the Holy Spirit opens you up to the supernatural. When you choose this, you are literally filled with the supernatural presence of the Holy Spirit. You give him permission to teach and mold you into a usable vessel filled with the Holy spirits anointing. Does that mean he can just enter me without my permission? No. This comes through prayer, the desire to be used. Again, there is a teaching discipline that needs to be cultivated-learning how to listen in the Spirit. For someone like me, this has been a whirlwind of ups and downs. By nature, I am a loud and abrupt person who only knows how to speak in one volume, loud. I talk loud and sing loud and move around in a loud manner. But as stated earlier, we never have to make this stuff happen, we just need to pray and ask. When God says, if you pray and seek me, I will listen and your prayers will be answered in accordance to my will. He is serious!
For the first four years, all I could do was ask, take back, give back, ask, take back and give back CONTROL. Some days I would be in an ongoing tug-of-war with giving up control just to take it right back again. But never lose heart, because if you really want it, your heart will overcome your human nature to be in control. The more you give up the less you carry. The less you carry, the easier your load. One day you will notice your worrisome thoughts are gone. That weird obsessive behavior you had, no longer dominates you. Your thoughts are no longer your enemy; in fact, you actually like yourself most days. Even though the first four years of my walk was an ongoing battle for control and trust, one day it just stuck, and as my prayer life increased, God’s words molded into the very fabric of my heart, and I was changing. I was living in the word of God, as if I was in a graduate class wanting to get straight A’s. I was reading and chewing on his words. I was questioning and journaling thoughts and feelings. I was actively tuned into God each day, and over time, His words replaced my thoughts and anxiety and fear left me. It was a bitter sweet segment in time. There were many moments I experienced sheer love and adoration at the hands of an all loving Heavenly Father, who I knew adored me. I began to feel worthy. I felt alive. The simple prayers I prayed materialized. Nothing was too big for my God. When I would walk in and out of disbelief, the Spirit would gently redirect me back to the throne of Christ. There was so much grace and forgiveness. It was a simple yet profound segment.
The next four years, I experienced warfare. I was caught in the middle of good and evil and had no idea how to overcome it. It was a very unsettling time. Within a year and half, I experienced a divorce, a career change, two state moves, a rape and immediate abortion, the death of step mother, the death of ‘the love of my life’ and the loss of my dog. I mean what else could possibly go wrong? It was when I moved back to Mississippi to enter a graduate counseling program that everything started to make more sense. During the first part of my four year warfare segment, the endless tragedies brought me even closer to God. I had a choice, give up and go my own way or surrender to God in a deeper way, a quieter way. The second part of my four year warfare was an awakening. I was growing more content and God allowed me to experience a higher level of closure from my divorce and the loss of Joshua. He was revealing higher spiritual truths. I was a part of a good church body who taught me seminary style bible teaching. I was learning how to accept Gods truth as sweet fruit; I was beginning to see from an objective lens. I was becoming more self-aware and more present. The negative thoughts that once plagued my mind, every two weeks, were becoming opportunity to rebuke Satan and take responsibility for my part in this battle we are all thrown into whether we acknowledge it or not. I was learning how to execute the power and authority we are all given in Christ. I was entering into a deeper understanding of the spiritual realm, previously unknown.
The ‘next four year segment in time’ was exciting and exhausting. I remarried and was pregnant with a son who would later be realized as the best part of me. I never thought I would have children. I never really cared for kids too much. After having an abortion, I believed I was unworthy to have another opportunity, but God felt otherwise. My pregnancy was littered with obstacles but by the time he arrived, I was mentally and spiritually ready to be a parent. My bible study and quiet time with God suffered but it was temporary. In place of this loss, my prayer life increased and became my daily outlet. I was growing closer to Christ and the Holy Spirit. I was learning how to act out of selfless love on a daily basis; it was an awakening in itself. I felt purposeful, productive and thankful. I was blessed to stay home with Noah his first four years, while eventually counseling in the evenings. I grew bolder in my walk and in my testimony. I was learning how to use God’s word in my counseling practice. I took extra classes and even received a biblical diploma from an online university. I was being equipped for something greater, I could feel it. It was a season of teachings through two well-known biblical teachers who helped to solidify my faith. Where church failed these teachings fill in the gaps so that my understandings of God and his power were more real and reachable. I felt blessed with knowledge and wisdom. I could actually call on God and receive a response, it was a revelation.
The last four years of my 15 year journey, were a time for reproof and discipleship. God was walking me into an even deeper awareness of self and the spiritual. But the more I grew in my faith, the more my marriage suffered. I was expectational to say the least, and believed it was my duty to educate my spouse. He was very reluctant to listen or receive, in fact, he was downright despondent. As time progressed, the space between us widened. I was being taught basic truths. God was teaching me how to love in a selfless way regardless of the outcome. I was learning how to become more submissive in the sense of allowing my spouse to take over spiritual responsibilities, even though I had little faith in his abilities or his reluctant willingness to surrender himself to God. I was learning how to be disappointed and heartbroken at the hands of others but still love and pray for them. A series of events occurred. I was taking time to develop my relationship to Holy Spirit and learning how to interpret my dreams, revealing the supernatural. I was learning how to trust God despite my circumstances. I was learning how to be still and wait on his timing. I was taking more responsibility for my relationship to Christ and becoming more accountable. I even placed myself under a church covering where I was open and honest with my shortcomings and learning how to take direction without defense. I became quick to listen and slow to respond and I learned how to be more humble even when the other person was at fault. There were many moments of sufferings; the loss of lifelong friendships, ministry relationships, and realizing that evil is present in all types of people. I was beginning to sense and understand the deeper levels of human pain. I was becoming aware of the many layers of masks worn to cover pain and fear at the expense of being found out. I was learning how to be a helper without passing judgement. I was being used daily and it felt great. The last two years, however, have been a time of reproof and deeper sacrifice and a higher level of awareness. Sometimes it’s important to think before you ask.
When it comes to choosing God and wanting to live His way, many hardships will occur and if handled his way, you come out with more spiritual growth and new awakenings. God allows us to quit at any time. He never makes us do anything. Despite the hardships and the emotional pain endured, every bit of it was necessary and worth it to find a deeper understanding of God and his truths. I will continue to walk through hell and fire just to be given a moment to understand God more intimately, to grow in humility and be used by His hand, in the lives of others. I would rather endure just to endure the battle then to give up and let Satan win over my heart.
Our hearts are what this BATTLE is all about. You must choose. Not choosing is still a choice and it isn’t God’s side. I know despite what happens in this temporary life, fighting in God’s army is the only thing I know because anything less is devastation, it’s meaningless. I know that the fruits of my labor and the fidelity of my faith will be rewarded in the kingdom to come on this earth. I’ve seen it and tasted it, it is real!
Give it a thought and shout out for his forgiveness. Ask Christ to come into your heart!