Tag Archives: Abundant Life

People-Pleasing and the Book of Galatians

I used to be a bona fide people-pleaser.  It sickens me now, actually, how much I lived for approval and affirmation from others.  The validation was a high, and eventually I found myself unable to live without it.

While I had nearly always been a people-pleaser, I had not always had approval or affirmation or validation.  I was like a little kid bouncing up and down, shouting, “Look at me! Look at me!” until finally someone did. Overnight, people were impressed with me, and that felt good. Really good.

Problem was, those things I did to get people’s attention were not really me.  I didn’t really want to showcase my doctrinal prowess, run myself ragged serving the church, give resources that I didn’t actually have, or fully embrace ideologies I didn’t fully agree with.  I felt like I needed to in order to keep people interested, because really, what was I to them without these things?

I felt enslaved, and I resented it.

Eventually, I couldn’t keep it up, and like a self-fulfilling prophecy, I lost my approval, affirmation, and validation from others.

Then, I felt like nothing.

One day, I was reading the book of Galatians and came across this verse: “I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant” (Galatians 1:10, NLT).

It took me reading Galatians (and this verse) several times before I began to understand that my people-pleasing lifestyle was not pleasing to Christ.  When I lived my life to please other people, I was enslaved to them and what they wanted, and I was not considering what Christ wanted.

I began asking what He wanted, thinking He was going to give me some big old to-do list.  And because I’d been (mis)taught that the only way to serve Christ was to serve His Church, I assumed it would involve many of the same things I’d been doing before.

To my surprise, God told me, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a, NKJV).  Another translation says “cease striving” and that really hit me in the gut, because I had been striving – going to unnatural lengths to earn approval, affirmation, and validation.  As I gave up ministry after ministry to be still in God’s presence, people kept telling me I was going in the wrong direction, but I knew (although I didn’t fully understand) that God was pleased with the direction I was taking. I didn’t need to be doing more to please God.

God told me,  “I came so that you could have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10, paraphrased).  I began to understand that I already had everything I needed to enjoy what God called me to.  I had been living a half-life because my schedule was so jam-packed and I was convinced that the more of myself I gave, the more I would be given by God. (Oh, the legalism I had gotten myself into there).  I didn’t need to give more to please God.

God told me, “Stand fast in the liberty by which Christ has made you free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1, NKJV).  This was the hardest for me.  When people would offer their insight on what I was doing (without understanding why), it was challenging for me to remember that I had freedom to step away the way I did.  I wanted to explain until they got it (i.e., approved), but I found that I no longer needed to. I was exactly who and where God called me to be, and that became the most important thing.  I didn’t need to be more to please God.

It was like the gospel 2.0, although I’d been following Christ for around for years at that point: Christ had already done what needed to be done, given what needed to be given, and been what needed to be in order to please God.  I have God’s approval because of Christ.  Beyond that, I say with confidence that God is pleased when I seek Him and His call in my life.

And God’s pleasure is all I care about.

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All My Fountains

Yesterday I was reading in Jeremiah and was reminded again about Judah’s sin: forsaking the Lord, the fountain of living waters. I remembered Psalm 87:7 – “As they make music they will sing, ‘All my fountains are in You.'”  And then the Chris Tomlin song started running through my mind. It’s a Holy Spirit thing, because this was exactly what I needed last night.

All My Fountains

by Chris Tomlin & the Passion Band

Verse 1
This dry and desert land
I tell myself, “Keep walking on”
Hear something up ahead
Water falling like a song
An everlasting stream
Your river carries me home
Let it flow, let if flow

Verse 2
A flood for my soul
A well that never will run dry
I’ve rambled on my own
Never believing I would find
An everlasting stream
Your river carries me home
Let it flow, let it flow

Chorus
Open the heavens
Come Living Water
All my fountains are in You
You’re strong like a river
Your love is running through
All my fountains are in You

Bridge
Come on, and rain down on us
Rain down on us, Lord

My source of life is Jesus.  I don’t have anything without Him.  He is everything.

Abundant life, y’all.  Can’t get it anywhere else.

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A New Song

 “Never comes a revival of religion without a revival of singing!” ~Charles Spurgeon, Life More Abundant

“The thief does not come except to kill and to steal and to destroy; I am come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10 NKJV).

I heard Tenth Avenue North’s “Worn” for the first time this past week. I totally relate to the song, because, oh my, it was my year last year.

Then I watched this. It’s Mike Donehey’s story behind “Worn.” Turns out he was involved in a car accident that left him literally on his back for several months, and that’s when he started his music ministry.

I talked a few weeks ago about how last year in a spiritual sense I was on my back. God is renewing me and waking me up to abundant life every day.

I just so relate with God giving me a new and different vision for my life, and yet, it just fits.

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Grace

It’s the processing period after the trial.  My trial was a crisis of faith – by the end, nearly everything I believed was knocked down, and what wasn’t knocked down completely, I was barely hanging on to. I  didn’t understand – still have trouble understanding why God would want my view of Him so utterly devastated.  Yet, over the past few months, I’ve regained something of hope and desire for things I had stopped hoping for and desiring many years ago. Before my crisis, my heart was on some spiritual level shutting down, failing. So I begin to understand some of why God chose to step in the way He did.

This week I have been challenged and am wrestling with God’s grace in my trial. My youth group is learning five memory verses about grace this week, and for some reason, they are not sinking in.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

“And of His fullness have all we received, and grace upon grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:16-17).

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sin, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having sufficiency in all things, might have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Do you notice a theme (besides grace) in these verses? Eternal life. Fullness. Grace upon grace. Riches. All grace. Sufficiency. Abundance.

Abundance.

This is what I wrestled with most in my faith crisis. Jesus says in John 10:10, “The Thief does not come except to steal and to kill and to destroy. I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.” I wrote in my journal last fall that I felt “spiritually raped, pillaged, and plundered.” I was dead inside, except for bouts of rage, directed at God for letting this happen to me. Because He kept asking me to call what I had an abundant life. To claim His goodness and grace in less than desirable situations far outside of my control.

I couldn’t do it.

These verses (which I picked, ironically) tell me that even then, especially then, God’s grace (His unmerited favor and strength to get through) was not only there, but there in abundance.  Now, I cannot and do not deny God’s Sovereignty, His orchestration in my situation. But His favor? His strength? I was being chastised. Stripped of everything, including my beliefs about God. Greatly weakened, wounded. An abundance? Of what?

Here’s the thing: either God’s grace was available to me equal to my trial, or God is a liar. And I do not believe God can lie. So God’s grace was available to me equal to my trial.

This week, as I memorize verses about God’s grace in abundance, I wrestle again. Since God’s grace was there for abundant living, why was my life so diminished?

Perhaps because I was striving for what I wanted. For what I thought my life should look like. Perhaps I was trying to earn what I wanted, rather than let God give me what He wants. Perhaps God is trying to teach me about His grace for abundant life, and the best way is to get me to wrestle with it.

I don’t know.

Today, I am in a very different situation than I was four months ago. It is easy for me to look at this phase of my life and testify to God’s grace as He has restored my relationships with others, and has given me new freedom to hope and desire. I have something that I am waiting on God for, something I carry to Him daily in prayer. It gets difficult sometimes, but I find the conviction to persevere in prayer and be patient. The grace to go on, when I no longer feel like it.

Maybe I have stopped striving or am striving less. Maybe I have stopped trying to earn God’s favor along with everyone else’s. Maybe I am in a good place to learn what God has been trying to teach me about grace.

I don’t know.

I’ll keep you posted. 🙂

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