The End of an Era
I thought I came to Jacksonville to get my feet wet in ministry. I thought I came to Jacksonville to learn how to be a nicer, kinder and gentler me. I thought I came to Jacksonville to root out some evidences of past abuse. It turns out I came to Jacksonville to stop believing a lie that I can’t even tell you how I ever came to believe.
God: Jacksonville is preparation and nothing more.
Some time later….
Me: I can’t find a community to belong to here.
God: Why are you trying to make a home here? This isn’t your home.
Me: Do you understand that You are killing me! I can’t take the loneliness anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
God: I’m in charge of when you breathe and when you don’t. I am not killing you.
Me: What is it that You are trying to teach me? I can’t figure it out! You’ve taken away all of my distractions and I still can’t figure it out! I will never get out of this desert!
God: Yes, you will.
Some time Later….
Me: I don’t know if this is it, but I think maybe perhaps You want me to silence the undercurrent that says I am not good enough and never will be for anyone or anything. I don’t even know where it comes from, but every sermon, song, lesson, talk, etc – whenever something relating to Your truth about me versus my truth about me comes up – I start crying.
God: And you thought you’d never get out of the desert!
Me: How do I silence this undercurrent? I mean really silence it? I mean I don’t even know its there half the time, where it came from or what to do about it – so how do I silence it?
God: You listen to me. You listen to what I say about you. You accept it as truth just like you accepted the 12 steps as a way to stop drinking. You didn’t fully understand the steps or believe in them – you just accepted them. You need to accept my words about you as truth. You can ask me to silence it too, but I’d rather you proclaim it is silenced in my name. You say you don’t know where it comes from, but you do. He’s been lying to women since the first one I made. Perhaps this will make it easier for you – You can choose to listen to my voice or you can choose to listen to his. Listening to both hasn’t been working, wouldn’t you agree?
Ugh. I am definitely one of those people who are way more afraid to succeed than to fail. I have previously recounted a sermon I heard from Erwin McManus on the topic of the two voices in the Garden. In this talk, Erwin makes it clear that while God’s voice may convict us, His voice never condemns and only calls us to be more, to do more. God’s voice always call us up and calls us to want better and to do better. The other voice in the Garden not only condemns us, but oppresses us too. The other voice wants us to feel bad and it wants us to hide or escape into whatever horrible situations we can create in our lives. Two voices that want very different things for us and Erwin asked us this question: Who’s voice are you listening to?
Obviously, somewhere deep down in my being, I am listening to the wrong voice. Another wise pastor from my past, Craig Strickland, once said “You cannot feel your way into an action, but you can act your way into a feeling.” I know that for me to move forward I have to start taking God at His word, especially when it comes to me. And since I am taking it as truth, I also need to start acting on it as truth. This is the key for me to get myself out of the situation I am in and the key to opening that big scary door I am for some reason afraid to walk through.
“The Cave You Fear To Enter, Holds The Treasure That You Seek” -- Joseph Campbell
Shifting Into Gear
“There comes a moment when you have to stop revving up the car and shove it into gear.” – David Mahoney.
Anyone remember that video you saw in biology class? You know the one where a jaguar has two little cubs and the male cub is very active while the female cub is timid and refuses to do anything but hide? Well, for some reason I have always identified myself with that female cub. In the video this female cub’s fear causes her to refrain from activities that would teach her to survive resulting in her becoming someone else’s dinner. From the moment I saw this documentary something inside of me said, “That’s me. And that’s what’s going to happen to me.” Why, I haven’t the slightest idea. There is no proof to back up such a thought, but nonetheless, I have believed and acted upon that very thought for quite some many years.
I am now in the process of taking back my God given power. I think I’ve been afraid to make mistakes. Someone I once looked up to spoke about how if we get off our divine paths we would miss the blessings of God. While I think this person probably meant well, I took what they said and allowed it to create a state of fear in me and just like that female cub I chose to simply not. I’ve never had the privilege of being one of those lovely people who practically came out of the womb knowing exactly what they wanted to do with their lives and my timid personality did nothing but prolong the ugly situation. As life would have it I have gotten a well-rounded idea of what I do not like and what I do not want to do with my life by refraining to do and just be. So now I am starting over at the about to be lovely age of thirty-two. Am I scared? Yes. Do I care? Not really. If I want to design a new life for myself and go after my own God given dreams I cannot stay in my current city, as it does not meet my needs. And I have to admit that the prospect of just picking up and moving across the country in the middle of a not so great economy does not sit too well with eighty percent of my being. The other twenty percent, however, is one hundred percent on board with the notion.
This whole scenario has me thinking about Abraham and Isaac. I mean if I’m this uncomfortable with the simple notion of moving across the country without a secured job, how much more freaked out was Abraham to take his son up to that alter! Thankfully, for Abraham and Isaac, God only wanted to see the extent of Abraham’s loyalty and never actually intended on making Abraham perform such a sacrifice. That’s pretty much the scenario I’ve been hoping for… However, there are times when God does want us to step out of our comfort zone and do something that we might have zero comfort in doing. But if God does require us to step out of our comfort zone or go through something unpleasant we can be sure He has a reason for asking us to do so. I have found that God usually uses such experiences to teach us something about ourselves, about Him or both.
Take the very well known tale by the name of Alice in Wonderland, for example. Alice struggled with doing what everyone told her she ought to do versus living life by her own rule book and following her heart. During her trip to Wonderland she yet again gets confronted with everyone trying to tell her who she is and what she is supposed to do only this time she was being told things she couldn’t begin to believe about herself or her own ability and it was not until she remembered who her father was that she realized who she really was and finally harnessed her own power. Drawing a parallel between Alice in Wonderland and God might seem a bit odd, but just like Alice, once you and I realize just who our spiritual Father is, we will recognize that we too have the power to make our own God-given dreams a reality.
Will there be fear? Yes, but one thing I’ve learned you can always count on is this: God will either provide the way or walk with you hand in hand the entire way through. So, if you, like myself, are about to embark on a journey that you know you must make, but feel a bit overwhelmed concerning those darn what-if thoughts… Well, take heart. God has a plan to either supernaturally supply what you need like He did for Abraham or He will walk beside you the entire way while imparting His wisdom to boot. Either way, if you keep close to God and keep moving forward you will reach your destination and come into your own destiny and I know I will too.