Is there some stretching, bending and yielding that has had to happen in your life lately?
What blocks us from doing the big stuff God wants to do in our lives? Have you ever wondered what it is for you? I admit, for a long time, I thought it was other people who blocked me, but in several years of allowing God to search my soul and show me my ways, I’ve learned that the only thing that blocks me is ME… through what I believe about me, others and the world around me.
As we tell our stories and bare our souls, our vulnerability brings healing to others, so I pray that happens through my writing. The truth is, that when we are weak, God is strong. I am so thankful for how God has been fighting for me lately. In the last week I’ve had some deeply hidden strongholds of my mind bubble up and expose themselves. These are mindsets that have blocked my path. They were small things that I tolerated, one choice at a time that became big things, and they had become a part of my identity that I accepted.
Have you every heard words like “God is going to do big things in your life?” I always wondered why I didn’t like “big”. Big things overwhelmed me. I liked to be in a small church, where I could manage things in small ways. When I came to a big church, I felt so intimidated. When I felt like God was leading us to move a few years ago, we had a 2750 square foot house. It felt big. I just wanted an open family room, that’s all. But God has a sense of humor. He said, “Go bigger.”
“What?!” Yet it was clear, and move we did. Now THIS is me, or who I thought I was….. My idea of happy was a small camper that I could clean in 15 minutes and then sit down, rather than in a big, giant house. I liked things close. I like people close, in my grasp, where they couldn’t escape spending time with me.
I was a leader of many things in a smaller church, but when I moved to bigger churches, I didn’t know how to lead or where I fit in. I never got past “small” in my mind. I taught small groups, and occasionally, I was asked to speak, but I always seemed to hit a barrier or limitation when it came to doing what was prophesied over my life in a consistent way. God had me deal with myself in the prayer closet. I stayed in “the closet”, literally, the prayer closet for years. I needed to be in there!… to pray for myself! I helped lots of other people through my time in the closet and received many visions of what could happen, yet I never felt ready to do them.
I was intimidated by those who led big things well, yet deeply respected them. They had positions that took work to achieve. Often I figured they must to be more qualified, or more talented, or more able to coordinate things that I was. Or, I would feel a bit of shame that they just worked harder than I did. It surely was true in many respects. I had realized this fear the night before and was feeling anxious about what doing big things could look like in my life.
This Sunday, it was a lovely morning here in Indiana. A great morning to sit on the porch swing before church and pray. I opened my heart to receive some much needed wisdom from God. I was ready to write it in my new journal. As I sat down, this verse reference popped into my head – Psalm 34:6.
“In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened;
he saved me from all my troubles.”
“Troubles.. troubles”… The word troubles stood out to me and I prayed, “Ok Lord, what ARE my troubles?” Quickly, I heard “belief system”. That’s it. “Ok,” I reflected. “So, what is my belief system? I’m listening.” I heard no more, but instead felt sure I was done “sitting there” and had to get up and go for a walk. I trusted God was going to speak to me “as I went”. I went inside to tell the kids where I was going, but instead Jack, my son, said, “Go for a walk mom.” OK. That was clear. So I headed out, asking God which direction to go.
I stood at the edge of the driveway, listening for how the Holy Spirit was leading me. Noticing my reaction to the nudges I was feeling to going right. “I usually go left,” was my initial thought. It was easier, because there was no sun in my eyes as I came back, but I felt the nudge to go right. Then I had a stupefyingly simple revelation, “I have sunglasses and I just found them this week!” So I went inside, got those and headed right.
I walked a mile and came to the end of my road. I had always turned back when I got there. I was a mile, after all, and usually seemed far enough, but I felt like I could not turn back. I had to keep going. It was a pretty busy road, not seemingly pedestrian friendly in my mind. Yet, “Go full circle,” came to mind. Now realize, we live in the country and so it’s not like going around the block is a small task. But as I looked right, I could already see the flashing stop light of the next turn. “That’s not so bad,” I reasoned, then, I have only this same distance to go on the next leg, and then I’ll be on an even shorter path. “I can do it,” I realized. What seemed to big now seemed doable to me.
As I turned right and walked down the highway there was a grassy edge, and I came to a pasture on my right where horses were grazing. Three brown horses walked toward me as I approached, as if they wanted to greet me. They stopped about 10-15 feet from the fence from the gate that divided us.
I looked at them.
They looked at me.
Time stood still for a moment as these three horses looked directly at me, into my eyes, and into my soul. “What is happening?” I thought to myself, as this was a completely new experience for me, with horses. There was a connection of souls happening in that moment. I was shaken and stirred and something was being mixed up and rattled loose inside of me.
What I haven’t shared yet here is that I know fear should not be allowed to master us in any way. It always come to intimidate us, but we must overcome it. Yet, there is, or was, one thing in life I have continued to admit that I was still afraid of, and that was horses. They intimidated me because they are big. As a child, I went to a birthday party and there was a horse there. I was tiny. That horse was big and powerful and could easily step on me and crush me if it wanted to. I remained in awe of horses and their power and admired them from afar, but never felt “one” with them in size or spirit until this moment. What I felt as I looked into the eyes of one particular brown horse was that were were equal in stature. We were “co-laborers” in creation. We each had a specific task in life and were made to work together, to respect one another. I felt that respect in that moment. He respected me, and I respected him.
As I continued to look into the eyes of that particular horse, the two others ran off. I asked God if this was something important he was showing me. At that moment, this powerful, elegant, brown horse gazed into my eyes deeply, nodded his big head once, and ran off.
I stood there. Amazed.
Horses are not what I thought they were, scary enemies, or a threat. They were kindred spirits whom God would speak through- to me! I felt known by a horse in that moment, and I believe I saw God’s spirit through the eyes of that animal. We were both a part of creation made to work together. Communication between us had broken down the barrier of fear that had always existed in me. I feared horses because they were “big”.
I’m not around horses that much, so this fear didn’t seem to make big difference in my life, but as I continued to walk, the pages of my life book began to open up. I began to see how the fear of “big things” came from this small root of fear. If that horse wasn’t really against me, then other “big” things may not be as intimidating either.
The journal I was beginning that weekend was titled “Dream BIG.” Starting the journal title intimidated me a bit. Just the night before I wrestled and struggled internally with a word of expansion that God seemed to speak to me. Was it a test of my reaction? I asked my self, “Do I dream big? Have I really? Do I allow myself?” The truth was that God has put big dreams that I had been afraid to act on. There were things I would allow to become interference and excuses for why I couldn’t do it now. It was true, that I couldn’t do it until I overcame this fear, fear of doing something big or that big would overwhelm me. Of course, in my own strength, big would be overwhelming. But, if God was the God of that horse, and of me, then we were both on the same team. I didn’t need to be afraid of what lay ahead. I realized God was freeing me now to a new level of capacity. This fear had taken up a big place in my soul and I was seeing how it was operating.
I went back to my porch swing and began to write. As I did, I paid attention to how I “felt” as I sat there… I was able, not less, not smaller than everyone else that seemed big and powerful. I was chosen for something special. You were too. I only had to listen to that verse and believe it. “In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened; he saved me from all my troubles.” ( Psalm 34:6, NLT) I thank God for showing me my “troubles”, or at least one of them. I have yet another to log as well. It is worth the journey to ask God to show us why we have limitations. We can assume it is all the enemy, but really it is what we believe. This verse has always been a driving force for me, “Abraham believed God and it was credited to Him as righteousness.” It’s not my performance that makes me sane, or saved, but it’s my beliefs and my confession. As I’ve been praying for more faith, like Abraham had, these types of revelations are unfolding in my life. I pray for you, that you let God unfold the mysteries of your life.
Open your heart and mind to hear. Ask God where your limitations come from. They are not from him, but often rooted deep inside our souls, buried and tolerated in some way we have yet to discover.
“This is the way. Walk in it. “
Isaiah 30:19-22 “People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Then you will desecrate your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, “Away with you!”