Trusting God Will Work Your Situation for Good

blessedContinued from here.

At the end of the day, we either trust God, or we don’t. We either believe Him, or we don’t. The Enemy will attempt to complicate the issue and provide you with numerous excuses for disobeying God, but the decision really is simple: If you love God, you will do what He says to do. If you are unwilling to do what God says to do, whether the issue is a big one or a small one, it’s reflective of a lack of love for Him.

God promises that He will work out our circumstances for good if we love Him and do what He tells us to do. So, we don’t need to worry about what is going to happen. When we are alarmed by our circumstances, we need to resolve to seek God’s will and do it, trusting Him to work it all out for good in the end. We might go through a season of pain, but the joy is coming.

My biggest struggle during the season that led to losing my job was ensuring that I was “hearing” God correctly and following His will. I did not want to make big sacrifices, only to learn later that I was way off base and walking out of His will. I repeatedly prayed for God to redirect me if I was not doing what He wanted me to do. He gave me repeated reassurances in a variety of ways, including leading me to Bible verses that showed me that my position aligned with His priorities in His Word.

If you are truly trying to do God’s will but are doing something “wrong,” God is perfectly capable of redirecting you. That was Paul’s story—he thought he was doing God’s will by persecuting Christians, so Jesus redirected him in a huge way. I have seen God work in the opposite extreme as well. A friend thought she knew that God was telling her to do something that seemed ludicrous and kept praying for confirmation. God gave her confirmation through a loudspeaker at a grocery store, of all things. I was there and can testify that this did, in fact, happen.

God knows what is in your heart, and He will direct your steps if you are willing to follow where He leads you. You don’t need to be afraid to take a stand for God. He is faithful, and He will repay you double for all that you have lost:

Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.” ~ Is. 61:7

[Graphic: Cartoon of  Grace holding her hands in prayer over the word, “#Blessed.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

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Remaining Faithful in Small Things

yes_sirContinued from here.

If you are not faithful in small challenges, you will find it very difficult to be faithful in large ones. In Jesus’ parable of the bags of gold, he said,

His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” ~ Matt. 25:21

However, the master in the parable rebuked the servant who had not been faithful in a small thing, saying:

So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.’” ~ Matt. 25:28-29

Taking a big stand that could cost your job is challenging, even when you know you are doing the right thing. What equipped me to stand my ground was having been faithful in smaller areas. For example, God placed on my heart a couple of years ago that I needed to respect governmental authority by obeying the speed limit. I grew up in large city where posted speed limit signs are blatantly disregarded, and people who only drive 5 miles over the speed limit are mocked and loathed by other drivers. I did not want to obey the speed limit, particularly considering I am unlikely to suffer any consequence for “mild speeding,” but God’s message was firm.

My decision to obey the speed limit is not popular. Other drivers dramatically pass me regularly. My teenager thinks I am being absolutely ridiculous, and even my husband mocks me for “driving like an old grandma.” Some friends are amused while others insist on driving because my “slow driving” is an annoyance. However, I love God more than I want other drivers, my friends, or even my own family to approve of my choices. If I was unwilling to be faithful in this small thing, how much more difficult would it have been for me to be faithful in big thing that cost me my job?

If you want to be faithful in big ways for God, start small. If you will not say no to the rated R-movie because you fear your friends’ disapproval, you are not going to have the resolve to say no when much more is at stake. Small steps in faithfulness lead to giant leaps later.

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[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace dressed in fatigues. standing in a military tank, and saluting while saying, “Yes sir.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Do You Believe that God Will Come Through?

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The situation that led to my being fired last week did not arise overnight. I knew for a few weeks that my position might end in my being fired, so I had weeks of angst over standing firm in my resolve. This tested my faith – Did I really believe that God would come through in this situation?

To help me stand firm in my faith, I used the five-step method from Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions, which I shared about here. In addition, I followed TerKeurst’s advice about resolving to seek the LORD and following whatever He called me to do. She based this teaching on this verse:

Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah.” ~ 2 Chron. 20:3 (emphasis added)

TerKeurst focused on the words alarmed and resolved. Jehoshaphat was alarmed that an army much stronger than his own was coming just as I was alarmed that I was standing up against management, which is much stronger than I am. However, rather than freak out, get drunk, hide, accuse God of abandoning him, or any of the other “normal” reactions that people have to adversity, Jehoshaphat resolved to ask God what to do. I reminded myself of this teaching several times during this stressful experience, resolving to ask God what to do and praying for Him to make His will very clear. The fact that God sent me a year’s worth of “supernatural severance” the very next day reassures me that I did, in fact, “hear” God clearly re: standing my ground, even though it cost me my job.

When I was tempted to dread returning to work after the weekend before I was fired, God reminded me of this passage of Scripture:

Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary …” ~ Is. 8:12-14a

God did become my sanctuary during this challenging season. Not for one moment did He leave me alone in my circumstances. He carried me through them, empowered me to do what was right, and continued affirming that I was walking in His will by immediately restoring the monetary value of what had been taken for remaining faithful to Him, even at great cost.

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[Graphic: Cover of Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions. Courtesy Amazon.]

Do You Love God More Than Anything Else?

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As I stated in my last blog entry, I never once considered backing down from doing what is right, even though it ultimately cost me my job. While this was not easy for me to do, it truly was a simple decision because I love God more than I love anything else, even my family’s health insurance, financial security, and my professional reputation. If I must choose between God and these other things, which also matter to me, God wins.

It’s hard for me to say whether I would have made the same decision a few years ago. While I respected and admired God, I did not actually begin loving God until March 2013, when I started spending the first hour of my day with Him. Loving God changes everything. I might be willing to endure some challenges for people I respect and admire, but when push comes to shove, it’s only those I love who I would be willing to make major sacrifices for.

When you are faced with a big decision like I was, the Enemy will try to muddy the waters by taking what should be simple and making it complicated: “Don’t you care about your family’s well-being? Look at what you are costing your family – it’s not all about you. What about your responsibility to them? Look how hard you have worked to build up your professional reputation. Are you really going to throw it all away over this one issue? Nobody else is taking this stand, so why are you? If they are willing to do it, then why aren’t you? Do you think you are better than they are? Why not just walk away quietly? Simply quit, and then nobody ever has to know…”

God’s truth is always simple … not easy, but simple. Either I love Him more, or I don’t. If I love Him, I will stand up for what is right, even when it comes at great cost. As Henry Blackaby says in Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God , if we have an obedience problem, we have a love problem. The more you love God, the easier it becomes to obey Him, even when obedience comes at great cost.

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[Graphic: Cover of Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God . Courtesy Amazon.]

How Much are You Willing to Sacrifice for God?

this_is_not_happeningHow much are you willing to sacrifice for God? Let’s say your employer tells you to do something that you believe is unethical and unlawful. Would you do it? Would you be willing to lose your job over standing up for what is right? If your employer told you that you have two options—do the unethical/unlawful activity or be terminated for cause, would you back down?

Don’t answer too quickly. Think about the degree of the cost you would be willing to pay for doing what is right. What if you were told that your family’s health insurance would be canceled at midnight if you were fired? Think about the long-term ramifications of being fired for cause, which run so much deeper than the immediate loss of income. For the rest of your life, you would have to explain in job interviews why you were no longer employed by that company. All of these challenges could be avoided by simply doing something you know is wrong. Would you do it?

This is no longer a theoretical question for me. My employer of over 8.5 years fired me on Friday for “insubordination” because of my refusal to do something that I believe is unethical and unlawful. I was given the opportunity to back down from my position, but I didn’t – never even considered doing so. I’m not saying it was easy (it wasn’t), but it really was that simple: I refused to be coerced into doing something that I believe is unethical and unlawful, even when threatened with immediate termination. And I was, in fact, terminated for it.

This week, I’ll be blogging about doing what God says to do, even when it comes with a heavy cost. It’s easy to follow God when He is raining blessings down on our lives. It’s a completely different story when obeying Him comes at a heavy price. However, Jesus said that if we love him, we will obey him, and if we don’t, we won’t.

As someone in the trenches, I can tell you that God is faithful. The day after I was fired, I learned that my grandmother’s estate, which had been in probate for over two years, had finally been settled and that I will be receiving my share of the inheritance this week. The amount of the check is exactly one year’s net pay plus 10% to cover the tithe. God is faithful and rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

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[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace spinning in a vortex: “This is not happening.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Not Responsible for the Outcome

goalsContinued from here.

A big lesson that God has been teaching me is that I am responsible for obedience while He is responsible for the outcome. This means that I cannot take credit when whatever I do is wildly successful, nor should I beat myself up if I don’t see any harvest from my labors. The outcome of whatever God leads me to do is 100% under His control.

This is not an easy concept for me to process. As a recovering control freak, I am very attuned to the ways in which my actions result in particular outcomes. I am a planner by nature. I like to know what the goal is and then come up with a plan to meet that goal. I am very outcome-oriented by nature. So, when God tells me to do something, regardless of the outcome, I’m being led outside of my comfort zone.

I wonder if one reason God has me investing lots of time and energy into projects that, at least for now, have not reaped many dividends is to teach me faith. He also might be teaching me humility so that if/when He changes the outcome, I’ll know that He caused those results rather than me.

One lesson I have been learning over the last few years is that people love a hero. They see successes in someone’s life and assume that success came because of that person’s efforts and talents. However, God is the hero, not me, so perhaps keeping me unsuccessful (by the world’s standards) at this time is one way to ensure that He will get the glory whenever He brings in the harvest.

God has brought about several successes in my personal life over the past few years, which I have previously blogged about. This includes enabling me to forgive my child abusers, healing my marriage, and healing my eating disorder. People will sometimes comment upon what a “good person” I am, and I am always quick to respond with, “I am not a good person; I have a good God.” I know that I am not responsible for the positive outcomes in my personal life – that’s all God.

So, perhaps He is doing the same thing with my ministry aspirations. Perhaps He is making sure I trust Him with the outcome so that I always know that He … and not my own efforts … is responsible for whatever success He brings in the future. In the meantime, I’ll obediently follow His lead and resist the temptation to judge the outcome. That’s not in my job description – it’s all up to God.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace writing “#Goals.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Am I on the Right Path?

i_dont_knowContinued from here.

A delay in the harvest can cause us to question whether we are even doing God’s will or whether we misunderstood God’s direction for us. When we aren’t seeing results from our labors, we can easily assume that we must be on the wrong path. However, many people in the Bible did not see immediate fruits for their labors. Abraham, Moses, Noah, and David are examples of people who had a wait a long time before they saw a payoff.

We also cannot assume that things getting worse instead of better is a sign that we are on the wrong path. For example, Nehemiah dealt with strong opposition throughout the entire project of rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. Paul also indicated the we can face opposition even when the direction from God is clear:

But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.” ~ 1 Cor. 16:8-9

When I don’t see results, I sometimes question whether I am “hearing” correctly from God. I have noticed that as I partake in the path that God has led me on, I feel more alive. It’s like my battery has been plugged in – I can feel energy flowing through me. As I work on the task, I feel energized rather than drained, even when I am not seeing fruits for my labors.

The converse is also true. When I’m continuing along a path that God is leading me away from … or whenever I walk on a path that He has not called me to …. I won’t feel energized. Instead, I’ll feel drained.

Learning how to discern God’s leading can be challenging at times, so spend time in prayer asking God for wisdom and discernment about where He is calling you to serve Him. Sometimes His calling is only for a season, and as He is drawing you away from that path, you’ll find that you are no longer energized and have lost your passion. Meanwhile, another direction will seem to call to you. Sometimes, it’s a direction that has never appealed to you in the past. When that happens, I know that God is working in me because I feel a passion for a direction that has never appealed to me in my natural state. I actually find those paths easier to follow because I know only divine intervention would make them look appealing to me.

As you grow closer to God, your interests will better align with His, and you will find yourself being drawn in directions you never imagined would interest you. Keep praying and trusting God enough to keep moving forward. Follow wherever He leads, and you’ll be amazed by the journey that God has planned for you.

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[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace scratching her head and saying, “I don’t know.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]