One Decision, Part II: After the happily ever after
One jar of peanut butter and a half loaf of bread - that's what I ate for a week. I was broke, broken and hungry. I didn't have the money to go buy food like I was used to. I thought I was doing the right thing - following God's leading to move to Florida. Why did this have to hurt so badly? If you haven't read my blog post One Decision, here's the Reader's Digest version: In one decision to follow the Lord's leading, I moved from a small town I called home to the place I wanted to establish my life - 1,000 miles away.
Through this experience and regularly reflecting upon it, God has taught me so many lessons:
This experience wasn't about making my life what I wanted it to be on my own merit. It was about letting my merit die; my sense of self-worth through a job, social network, bank account - dead; my idea of faith being all rainbows & unicorns - past dead. But I never felt so alive and free knowing that I no longer was trying to control my life, but instead God was leading me. As Matthew 11 says, "His yoke is easy, and his burden is light."
What looks like success to the world is not (necessarily) success in God's eyes. Many of the people I thought were successful Christians told me I was being rebellious by "running away" even though I knew God was leading me. As I began to examine some of my past spiritual influences and leaders, I realized that their faith is dead. There is no fruit. I have heard it said, "Don't listen to people who don't have what you want." If you want to be a follower of Christ, don't listen to people who religiously read the Bible but don't follow Christ in a faith that stretches and grows them.
What looks like failure to the world is not (necessarily) failure in God's eyes. I looked like I lost my mind - I left a good community, quit a good job, and started driving to an unfamiliar place where I knew nobody and didn't have a job. In what made things seemingly worse, God used the first year and a half to prune me. He removed so much of what I thought was characteristic of me and my life including finances/income, being a social butterfly, even just being an influential presence around my friends and colleagues. It was as if he was pulling out teeth - baby teeth - things that had to be removed so my adulthood could grow into place. It looked like failure, it felt like failure, but it was an act of obedience to the Lord - maybe more so because of the appearance of failure.
When you lose dependency on the world, God comes in like a knight in shining armor. Think about this: how many times do we consult the Lord in our everyday decisions? During this season of depending on God for EVERYTHING, I was more in tune with His leading than ever before. Every dollar I had, I consulted Him on how to use it. I knew He was my provider, and if I wanted to keep living under His direction, I better consult Him with His money. While I did have a season of not having much stuff, I never had a season of not having GOD.
Eating only carbs is not all it's cracked up to be...ladies, you know what I mean.
In Hebrews 11 - "the faith chapter" - there is a key person who goes through a similar experience of leaving a comfortable land that is not his own in search of God's best. The author says:
"By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God… And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return."
These verses were !MY JAM! during this season (no PB&J pun intended). Every time I pondered the idea that I might actually be off my rocker, I would feast on Hebrews 11 and remember that Abraham left his past to seek his destiny in God. All earthly logic told me I was crazy. The fact that I ate a jar of peanut butter, half a loaf of bread and nothing else for a week confirmed I was crazy. But I was crazy for God's promises - I was more hungry for the fulfillment of the dreams He put in my spirit than I was for mere food.
As someone who has been there, here's my advice: If you are the only person who knows the dreams God has for you, act as if He's real and His promises are real. As you're living in faith, God will send people into your life who will stand in faith with you and believe that He is the dream writer and He will fulfill His promises in your life. He will send spiritual pace partners who are running the same race to Christ. Most importantly, rely on God's grace to be steadfast in your convictions and actions...even if it means only eating a jar of peanut butter for a week.