“It’s the heart that matters”, that’s something we say to young children when other kids bully them and call them ugly. This might not always be true in the society we live in, our culture values a wrinkle-free face, a toned body and expensive clothes very highly. The good news is that when it comes to God the heart is all the He is focused on. I can inject botox, wear what Vogue magazine tells me to wear and be beautiful on the outside, but none of that will impress God. I can even give a lot of money to charity every year and none of that will impress God either, unless my heart is in the right place. Many people give to charity, not because they care about the poor, but because they understand that having a generous image is great for your career and status in our society. I can easily fool people by having a caring and generous image, but I can’t fool God. Elisabeth George writes about Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the book “Walking With The Women Of The Bible”:
“Although she was probably young and, from all appearances, poor, Mary had something priceless on the inside: She loved God deeply, obediently and passionately.
With God, it’s always the heart that matters. When He shines His holy light into your heart, what does He discover? Do you nurture a deep, obedient, passionate love for God?”
I would say that my heart has been filled with a deep and passionate love for God over the past few years, but when it comes to obedience … not so much. I like to be the boss, I hate being told what to do. This is what my relationship with God has looked like over the past few years: God tells me “Go”, I choose to stay. I choose comfort and ease over obedience to God. Other times God tells me “stay” and I choose to go. I get tired of waiting and decide to go ahead with whatever I want to do although God has not told me to go.
Obedience is clearly one of the things God is teaching me this year. I’ve spent a lot of years doing my own thing with little success and I’m so ready to finally do things God’s way now. As usual, I needed to do things my own way first and see that my way never leads to anything good, before I was willing to do things God’s way. What can I say, I guess I have a stubborn and bossy personality? Those who know me well know exactly what I’m talking about.
God is calling me to face two of my biggest fears this year and one of them is giving up control. It’s embarrassing to write that sentence because I’m aware that for so many people this is not hard at all, but it’s very difficult for me. I don’t just like to be the boss, I need to be the boss to feel safe and secure in life. Controlling things is my response to dealing with the fear of an unknown future. The ironic thing is that the more I try to plan and control everything in life the more stuck and fearful I become. Letting go and learning to follow God, rather than always having a plan to follow, is the only way to live free. We’re getting there, one step at a time.
A little over a month ago I decided to finally make the jump, to throw out control and start following. I was terrified. When I don't have a detailed plan for my future I get fearful. Today I have peace, complete peace. I feel free and excited about the future, although I have no idea what the future holds. A couple of times every week fear comes to visit me again, fear seems to have the most power late at night when you can't sleep. When I lay awake in the dark and start to think about my unknown future it freaks me out. Instead of trying to come up with some plan/solution in the dark my new strategy is to just decide to stop "the train of thoughts". I've learned that reality seems so much more scary late at night and the best thing I can do is to not think more about it and just go to sleep.
I don't need a plan for my future because God's got a perfect plan for my life. The only thing I need is to just folllow God and I will be fine, as a matter of fact I will be great! The next morning when I wake up I have no fear at all about the future. Everything seems more scary late at night.
During the day fear attacks in a different way. I start to question everything I'm doing and feel like it's crazy to face the future without a plan. What helps me find peace during the day is checking my notes in my journal. Last year I started writing down all my prayers to God in a journal and I also write down the answers I get. Every time when fear attacks my mind I start to doubt that God really meant what he said. What if I heard wrong? What if I misunderstood what he wants me to do? What if? What if?
Every time I check my prayer journal as a strategy to fight off fear I receive God's peace. My prayers and God's crystal clear answers are all there and when I read them again I'm reminded of what I'm called to do. God speaks, but if I let fear and doubt drown out God's loving voice I will become lost and confused. God doesn't change His mind, but I will constantly change my mind if I listen to all the voices out there equally much. Fear, doubt, people's opinions and expectations on me, my own negative thoughts etc. are all voices that I can choose to silence, I don't have to listen to them all day long. It's super important for me to start every new day with 30-60 minutes of Quiet Time with God. When I skip my time with God in the morning I end up being more affected by the voices of doubt, fear and other people's opinions. It's like Mark Batterson says in his book "Whisper-How to Hear the Voice of God":
"God often speaks loudest
when we're quietest."
"God often speaks loudest
when we're quietest."