Following Jesus is hard.
And not just because He asks you to do things out of your comfort zone or because you have to give up going your way to go His.
It’s hard because you are seeking to follow someone you can’t see and frequently that can leave you wondering what in the world you’re supposed to be doing!
You see, when you call the shots it’s easy to come up with a ten year plan. But once you say, “Not my will, but yours be done” all of a sudden you’ve handed the reigns to someone else. You’re not in control, and He often doesn’t let you know what the next step is until right as you take it.
That can seem hard. “I’ve given up everything to follow you! Why don’t you make it easy?!”
Especially when there’s a decision that needs to be made. Especially when others are chomping at the bit to know. And let’s face it, we like to know what lies ahead!
Sometimes even as I’m doing something I’m not even certain if it’s the right thing. But Jesus says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left you will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way, walk in it.” Did you catch that? Sometimes it’s not until after you’re moving forward that you hear Him directing you!!!
Can that ever be scary! Especially if we want to “get it right!”
But following Jesus is less about getting it right, than it is about being with Him. His ways aren’t our ways! His thoughts aren’t our thoughts. While we’re obsessing about what we should be doing, He’s often doing something not even on our radar screen. He often uses such times of confusion as incredible faith builders. Will we trust Him to lead us even when it’s foggy? Even when things are far from clear?
You see, once we realize how much better Jesus’ ways are than ours, it’s easy to slip into following Him with the motive, “I want to follow Jesus so I”ll make the right choice and life will be easier!” I believe He sometimes allows these times of confusion to refine our motives – “Will you follow me, even when it’s hard? Even when it means not knowing? Even when things aren’t clear?” Welcome to advanced faith building!
Sometimes God leads us by making the next step clear, but sometimes He leads us in the haze, guiding our steps even when we don’t realize it. Can we follow Him during such times with a thankful heart? Trusting Him that He really does care, that we haven’t fallen through the cracks, that even His silence can be an act of love?
Trusting Him that even if we choose wrong, He is so able to get us right where we need to be, right when we need to be there?
Or in our frenzy of trying to figure out His will (and He makes clear in Isaiah 55:8-9 the futility of trying to do this apart from Him), do we get mad at Him, frustrated because He isn’t guiding us the way we want Him to? Or can we continue to rest in the truth of who He is, in everything giving thanks?
During times like this I so appreciate Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”
What if my focus should be, “Am I loving God?” rather than “Which decision is right?”
When I am faced with an impending decision and I’m not sure what to do, well, the temptation is always there to treat God like a dog, demanding, “Speak!” I know I need help to not fall into this trap of disrespect. I need to pray, but that’s when I feel especially vulnerable. It’s so easy to obsess about the situation even as I’m praying about it!
That’s when I grab this resource: http://www.memlok.com/adoration.pdf What a gift this has been!!! I fold it into fourths and take it with me as I walk and pray, focusing on who God is. In the midst of a fog, this is what I need the most – to remember what is true about God’s character. I can’t even begin to tell you how this helps set my heart at rest… to be reminded He is here, He really does care, He is on the throne, He is wise and good, there is purpose in all He does…
God has promised to guide us. But He doesn’t always do it the way we’d like or the easiest way. Can we trust Him to be faithful to His promises even in a fog?
When we do, we don’t just get where we need to be, we also get a major opportunity to grow ~ and bring Him pleasure! (Hebrews 11:6)
Deb, thank you for the encouragement. I was thinking earlier this week about how Moses had to follow God even when he didn’t know where he was going. But God still led him on a journey of faith and accomplished His purpose, in spite of Abraham’s not knowing.
Hi Debbie Hello! I love reading your “heart of discipling women”. I don’t know if I have read all your entries. It appears Venice Bible Church’s youth minister, Mike Gibbons will take me up on my offer to mentor a young lady. While I lack the gift of gab, I do want to start off on the right foot with this young lady. I believe you mentioned opening up about my life journey, so she will be free to open up about hers and where she is spiritually. I don’t want to come across as ‘cross examining’ her either. What kind of middle ground should I take? I do want to make a good first impression with her.
Thank you for any advice you can give, despite your busy schedule!
In Him, Vicky Nichols
Sent from my iPad
Hi VIcky! This is so exciting! There’s about to be one very blessed young woman! :0) I’m asking the Lord right now to give you wisdom in how to join in with what He’s doing!
When I meet with someone for the first time I always ask about her story first (unless she beats me to the punch and asks me first! ;0) – and I tell her I don’t want the reader’s condensed version, but all that she’d like to tell me! I so love a good story and God really does write the best ones! And as she shares I’m listening to hear where the Lord is at work and for clues as to how He might want me to join in.
While it is important that I be open about my struggles and what’s going on in my life, when we meet for that very first time I usually let her share whatever is on her heart first – I think that truly communicates the concern that’s in my heart for her, that I want to listen and not just talk. And I find that gives me insight regarding what to share about my story. I make certain she knows its ok if there are parts of her story she’d rather not share. And I’ll periodically ask questions as I have them, because I really do want to understand where she’s coming from.
Most people love to share their stories! And it means a lot to be heard. I’m smiling thinking how you wrote you don’t have the gift of gab! That actually can be a great asset! I’ve found having two ears that work well are much more important! (um, well, in my case they don’t work all that great, but they do seek to listen intently! :0)
Now sometimes after a person shares her story she won’t ask about yours (this really depends on how self focused the person is! And I’ve been in many conversations even with adults where they haven’t asked me a single question!) So know if that happens you can always ask, “Is there anything you’d like to know about my story? If so, feel free to ask away!”
And the goal when I’m sharing my story isn’t to give her a detailed biography, but Ephesians 4:29b ~ seeking to speak “only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Our stories can be a powerful way to build others up, but usually not all the details – just think of how many years it’s taken to live out your story! So I always ask the Lord to give me wisdom to know what part of my story I should share (and how much, etc…) so it enhances our relationship and doesn’t detract from our time.
Sometimes it takes all the time we have just sharing our stories, but most of the time I love to finish our time having a shared quiet time together – even if we only have 15 minutes I find there’s something so special about diving into the Word together and it sets a precedent for our future times together. I find it makes such a difference when we faithfully get time in the Word together each time we meet.
Those shared quiet times are one of the best gifts I can ever give anyone (there’s an article on how I do this in the Help section :0) as it’s helping them learn how to feed themselves and provides an opportunity for them to personally experience God as they apply what He lays on their hearts. It also can reveal much about what’s currently going on inside of them!
Also, it gives them a taste of what to expect in the future – that we aren’t just going to meet to chat the whole time. I find if I’m not intentional about doing this the first time, it can be harder the second.
Feel free to let me know if this raises any more questions! :0) May the Lord pour on the grace and richly bless your time together! love, deb
p.s. Of course above all follow Jesus!!! Only He truly knows what’s best to do! And something totally outside the box may come up! so take all I wrote with a grain of salt and as a far second to anything He lays on your heart to do! :0)