Tomorrow marks two weeks since I had a conversation with my former pastor’s wife, Melanie. We were talking about obedience to God, walking in step with Him.
One of my acts of obedience to God was stepping down from every ministry I was involved in at the church her husband shepherds, and ultimately walking away from that local body altogether. Immediately following these steps, I quickly tried to move into other areas of ministry, but God used some people to block my way. After that, I lost all of my bearings – I felt like nothing outside of my service to the church, and I was certain that was how other people saw me as well. Around that time, I grudgingly agreed to stay out of any church or ministry leadership positions for a year. As time has passed, I have come to value and (dare I say it?) enjoy this time of rediscovering who God is and what He desires for me. I have stopped striving, and I am more at peace than I have ever been with who I am and what I am doing. In about three months, this commitment will be fulfilled, and I will begin seriously praying and considering what comes next.
Interestingly, Melanie noted how much more rested I seemed, and she shared that she was happy for me. I was encouraged and affirmed by our time together. Before I left, she admonished me that there would be carrots along the way trying to distract me from the path God has called me to walk. And it’s funny, because at that point I thought I had seen quite a few distracting carrots and had been resisting them quite well. But since I walked out her front door that rainy day almost two weeks ago, I’m seeing more carrots than ever before.
The you-need-to-do-something-about-this-now carrot. Before I ever even hit burnout last year, God’s mandate to me was simple: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). The day after my visit with Melanie, I was hit with a situation that I immediately tried to control. I needed to persuade someone that they were choosing the wrong path. I realized quickly this wasn’t the case, and went about my life the next few days, simply asking people to pray. I can’t do anything effectively without God convicting and calling me to do it first, and even then, I’m just a vessel. He is God, He is the One who makes a difference in people’s lives.
The you’re-not-doing-enough carrot. Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). A year ago I wasn’t living like this verse was true. Six months ago I wasn’t living like this verse was true. Three months ago I was beginning to live it, but still struggling with it. But at the end of March I was at a Bible conference, and one of the speakers talked about rest. Sometimes, as believers we take periods of rest, but our lives are not reflective of it otherwise. And yet, a life in Jesus should be one of rest, according to the Man Himself! And for some time now, I have been at peace, being who God has called me to be. Now, I hear the accusations: You’re not doing enough, you’re doing too much, you’re wearing your heart on your sleeve, you’re not being vulnerable enough, you’re needed, there’s no room for you. I’ve been honestly feeling anxious and burdened. And that’s exactly what Jesus doesn’t want for my life. So I’m pretty much rejecting the burdens at this point, and walking in peace, knowing that where God expects me to go, He will lead.
The you’re-not-fulfilled carrot. Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10b). I have just existed for most of my life, but over the past several months, God has been reawakening my heart and my life to – I don’t know, enjoy things more fully. I am passionate about certain things for a reason and it is both okay and good for me to live with that passion. The two things I tend to sometimes believe are missing are a career and a relationship with a guy, but most of the time, I trust God’s reason for withholding both, whatever those reasons may be. For nearly the past two weeks, I’ve really considered both, and how if I’d have either/both of them, I’d be able to better cope with what’s going on in my life. There’s a part of me that knows this is false, and there’s this other part of me that has whined to God and my best friend about it. I’ve been gearing up to memorize Ephesians for the past month, and I love chapter one, verse twenty-three, where it talks about Christ being the One who “fills every thing, in every way.” Jesus fills me, and so I am full!
I don’t know why these carrots keep getting dangled in front of my face, however, I do know that I can’t pursue them. I am in a period of my life where I must be still in the knowledge that God is who He says He is, I must continually rest and be at peace in Christ, and I must LIVE life abundantly, triumphantly.
You know something? I don’t even like carrots anyhow.