Let It Happen

Comfortable people don’t need Jesus, desperate people do.
— Bob Goff

I’ve been hearing this question lately, “Why do you keep watering it down?”

“Watering what down?” I ask.

The Holy Spirit whispers, “Your passion. Your longings. That voice that keeps telling you that you were meant for more. You turn to lesser things for comfort when you’re called to feel the discomfort of “not yet” or “not quite”. It’s worth the investment right now.”

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The lesser things just deaden the voice a little bit; they take away the edge. Rather than requiring me to trust God, I make it manageable by making it quieter.

Not too close. Not too hard. Not too much.
That’s how it feels. Like it’s just too much. Deep down I don’t know if I can handle being fully alive so I self-medicate.

I want to protect myself from the pain of disappointment because the dreams are bigger than anything I could do on my own. You know the saying, “If your dreams don’t scare you they’re not big enough”? Well, they scare me, so I shut them away and act like I don’t care. If it happens it happens, but while I’m waiting I’ll be over here watching Netflix.

There’s a song that goes, “Your full of life now, full of passion, that’s how He made you. Just let it happen.” I just got it. I just realized I wasn’t letting it happen. I was letting the voices of others in my head influence me. I was letting my own desire for comfort influence me. I was avoiding the pain that I know comes with “letting it happen”. Because it is painful. There’s another song with a line that says, “coming alive feels a lot like dying”. And it does. I’ve been comfortable. Not satisfied. Comfortable. I work for a church, I serve, I lead a small group...but I’m comfortable.

We require the right problem to expose our need for Jesus. What’s my problem? Laying my head on the pillow every night knowing that I might not be ready for an opportunity that could present itself tomorrow because my desire for comfort won. Isn’t it interesting how pain reminds us that we’re alive? We find ourselves stuck in the cycle of settling for lesser things until we wake up to the conviction that each day is a day we won’t get back. Because God is merciful He allows me to feel the pain of “what if” and then I wake up.

Sinking deep into who God created you to be can be scary because you’re not sure who can come with you to that place. But if God is calling you there, then it’s because you’re supposed to lead the way for others. The longer you put it off, the more frustrated you’ll become over the time that you’ve lost. But know this: God is the redeemer and He can redeem the time if you hand it over to Him. There is a facet of who God is that we will miss out on if we don’t trust Him with the opportunities we believe we’ve lost.

Watering down your calling is just a temporary solution for an eternal problem. It will never lead to the satisfaction and true rest that we all long for. At the end of the day, I know that if I don’t trust Him with this I’ve denied myself abundant life. Jesus said that’s what He came to bring us, and just as He challenged the rich young ruler, He also challenges us to leave our comfort behind.

What He’s placed inside us isn’t just for us. God’s purposes will be accomplished with or without us. Are you okay with that? I don’t think so. Although, my actions make me feel as if I am betraying myself, since they seem so contrary to who I know I am—to who I’m called to be.

Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
— Colossians 1:28-29

When Paul says, “for this I toil, struggling,” he's saying that he's exhausting himself for the sake of the call, for the good fight of faith. He acknowledges the powerful work of the Spirit within and responds accordingly. Know this: Paul is not working for the sake of achievement or earning recognition. He is working and toiling in response to the reality of a dying world and the corresponding power of the Holy Spirit within; the same power that raised Christ from the dead.

When we water down the call we relegate the powerful work of the Holy Spirit to the sidelines of our lives. The power that raised Christ is the same power that is available for you to spend yourself completely on the gospel (beyond what you thought possible). And in the very midst, the Holy Spirit invites us to rest in His sovereign care. He wants us to know that if we pour out our lives, abundant life awaits us.

You may be asking the same question I’ve used as an excuse many times to keep from being “all in." How is it possible to give beyond what you imagined and then to rest? Both are the result of utter dependence and yielding to the work of the Holy Spirit. You can’t have one without the other. You can’t work in submission to the Holy Spirit and not rest AND you can’t rest in submission to the Holy Spirit and not work.

When we try to preserve our comfort we deny ourselves true rest.

But Jesus invites us into a “glorious ‘yes.' " A yes that requires every part of us and gives us abundant life in return.

So give it all.

Give it everything you’ve got.

Do it scared if you have to.

Because it will be worth it.

It always is.

You’re full of life now, full of passion. That’s how He made you. Just let it happen.
— United Pursuit
 

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Treasure

    Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid: and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
    — Matthew 13:44
     Photo Credit:  Simon Wilkes

    Photo Credit: Simon Wilkes

    Growing up I read the Bible to find out what I needed to do and how I needed to act rather than to know God. Although, I had a love for scripture (that I now understand is by no merit of my own, but a God-given gift) I didn’t see the grand narrative of redemption because I didn’t know to look for it. I didn’t know God’s redemptive plan was woven in from Genesis to Revelation and parables like this one, rather than being instruction for me, were actually revealing something intrinsic to the nature of God and the way He interacts with us. 

    Since I was always reading to find the application I assumed the main character talked about in this short parable, stuffed in the middle of Jesus’ discourse on the kingdom of heaven, was me or you. Obviously, what we’re supposed do is give up everything we have because we’re so happy we’ve finally found the kingdom, right? That’s the application. Count the cost to get the kingdom. 

    But here’s the catch, we have nothing to offer. And why am I buying a field? Every word Jesus spoke was intentional. We can’t just ignore the details we can’t explain. If I sold everything to purchase the field that the treasure was buried in, as it pertains to the good news of the Gospel, that doesn’t make much sense. Why would I buy the whole field when I can freely accept the gift of Jesus’ sacrifice for my sin?  If you’re still hung up on this, let me put it this way, there is nothing you or I have that could ever purchase our redemption. But when we receive the good news everything we once held of value will pale in comparison to the riches of Christ. What a convicting thought! But the idea of us being the main character just doesn't fit within the context of the parable.

    Rather, this story shows the incredibly intentional nature of our redeeming God and the man in this parable undeniably represents Jesus. 

    If that man is Jesus and the field is the world (vs. 38), then him selling everything and purchasing the entire field because of the treasure he finds there makes sense. Jesus has something to offer: His deity and His life.

    In the parable, this man is overwhelmed with joy when He finds the kingdom of heaven. But He can’t just take it. That’s not how it works. Because God is just, it has to be done the right way. So, the man hides the treasure right in the middle of the ordinary place he found it so that he can go sell everything he owns to buy something that only he understands the immense value of.

    But if the man represents Jesus why would the King of kings and the King of heaven need to sell everything to buy the kingdom of heaven? What is the “kingdom of heaven”? It’s not talking about what we typically envision when we think of a kingdom. I don’t know about you, but I generally think castles and princesses and dragons because I’m kind of a nerd and I like stuff like that. But what the phrase, “kingdom of heaven,” is talking about here is the rule and reign of heaven, God’s rule and reign. So basically, Jesus is bringing God’s way of doing things in heaven to earth. 

    Due to man’s rebellion, the rule and reign of heaven on earth and in the hearts of men had to be purchased back. The price tag on this process would cost God everything. Much like the man who expresses so much joy at discovering the treasure, we see Jesus “who for the JOY that was set before Him endured the cross”. 

    Jesus went on the greatest rescue mission imaginable; He gave up the comfort of heaven to bring the kingdom of heaven to us. He gave up everything He had to buy back a broken world, so that the kingdom of heaven would come to it’s fullest expression in the redemption of man. And that is a really, really good story. It’s a story about how much God values us. It’s a story about how treasured we are.

    Of what great value is the treasure hidden in the field! If we only understood what a treasure we are to the One who has found us! 

     

    Your kingdom come,

    Your will be done, 

    On earth, as it is in heaven!


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    Hidden

    There are no limits to what God can do with a life that is fully submitted to Him.

    I have wholeheartedly believed this for as long as I can remember. Day in and day out, I live with this deep conviction that He’s for me and when I give Him everything I won’t be disappointed.

    But what about those seasons where I feel hidden? Or when the things I know God has placed inside of me feel like they will never see the light of day? What about the times when my purpose or calling feels distant?

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    I think we all go through this at some point. It could be triggered by a move, job change or loss, or transitioning roles. It's not uncommon and I know I'm not alone. 

    Take Joseph for example. Dude was so hidden. You can find his story in Genesis 37-45

    Joseph, who dreamed his brothers would one day bow down to him, is sold into slavery by these same brothers. He finds himself in a seemingly hopeless situation, hidden for forty years before his dreams actually come to pass.  

    In the end, God strategically used Joseph's season of hiddenness to showcase His glory. 

    Over the years God has patiently shown me how to embrace seasons of hiddenness.

    As I’ve yielded to the Holy Spirit in these seasons, He has grown me in ways that I wouldn’t trade for anything. He has enlarged my capacity to just be with Him and I treasure the time I have come to set aside to listen and surrender. These are the moments where everything else falls away and I am His beloved. 

    From these encounters, I wanted to share some the things I've learned with you.

    Faithfulness in Hiddenness

    When it feels like your God-given gifts aren’t being utilized in the way you had hoped, it doesn’t mean you should ignore them.

    You’re called to faithfulness in hiddenness because God doesn’t invest something in us that He doesn’t intend to get a return on. That return is always about bringing Him glory so that He can draw people to Himself. (2 Timothy 1:14) It may not look like what you thought, but that’s mostly because you don’t see like He does. Rest assured, faithfulness will yield results. 

    Ephesians 2:10 says that God prepared good works for us ahead of time so that we could walk in them, but we have to be ready to walk in what He has prepared. This requires faithfulness on our part. 

    Also, if you love something, you’re not going to stop growing or investing in that area just because no one is watching, right? What a sobering thought to let sink in. 

    Contentment in Hiddenness

    Rest requires trust. A lot of it. 

    It's not easy. Rest is so contrary to our human nature that we often forget that this is God's plan and if He has us in a place where we feel “hidden,” then it's for a good reason.

    His plans have always been so much better than mine. They are always so much bigger. When I look back I see His strategy in every step and every move. I also see the times where I became anxious and tried to move things in a certain direction. Almost like I was telling God, "You're just not moving fast enough. I've got it from here." Looking back, I laugh at myself realizing how foolish it was to think I was in control. Self-promotion is a very real temptation when you feel like the world is telling you that you're getting too old or pretty soon you won't have anything to offer. But when we wholeheartedly trust God to do the heavy lifting we can rest and there is nothing like it.

    David (from the Bible) was anointed as king long before he ever took the throne. In the interim, the king he was supposed to replace was actively trying to kill him. Instead of retaliating when he had the chance, David chose mercy. King Saul, however, was so afraid of losing the position, which had become his identity, that he became obsessed with killing David.

    While David is a great example of contentment in hiddenness, Saul is a great example of the fear and obsession that results from finding one’s identity in a position or title. (1 Samuel 16-31

    Prayerfulness in Hiddenness

    Prayer is a divine alignment of our will to God’s.

    When we feel hidden to the world around us God wants to reveal that His affirmation and affection are enough to fulfill the longing in our hearts. Only cultivating a deep prayer life will yield the fruit that abiding in Him produces. If you haven’t read John 15 lately, I encourage you to do so…and then I recommend reading it again. 

    The hidden or secret place is where God reveals Himself. As we behold Him, we can’t help but become more like Him. Hiddenness, when embraced, has the potential to produce the kind of character that can withstand the challenges we'll face when our gifts are acknowledged. If we have developed a habit of consistent communion with God, when the time comes, we will offer our gifts as a sacrifice to the God who saved us, loves us, and gives us an identity in Him.

    The Big Picture

    "To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places."  Ephesians 3:8-10 ESV

    I want to encourage you to embrace hiddenness. I know it can be frustrating and downright depressing when you don’t feel like you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve been there. These are the times where God does the deepest work in us–when we learn to love people better and what’s most important. It’s when we cultivate a lasting dependence on God, and in turn, He grows us far beyond the places our own efforts could ever take us. The result is something God can use to draw people to Himself. 

    One more thing: you're not as hidden as you might think.

    People see you and they see the fruit born from your covenant and communion with God. The light inside you shines brighter and brighter with every decision to yield and every moment of surrender. In the end, it's more than worth it. 

    God's plan has always been to reveal the work that He's done in you, to others. It may not be what you expect, but I do know this...it's so much better.

     

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