I’ve had so many seasons in my life that were challenging that I’ve become a connoisseur of challenges. There are seasons where I have one extremely difficult obstacle that takes all I can throw at it–like trying to graduate college when one of my core professors absolutely hated me.
There are seasons when I have too much small stuff on my plate and even the smallest thing seems impossible because I’m already overloaded.
I’ve had seasons that were a combination of both, like when I got married. My wife and I were in love, but we’d had tragic past relationships and we both struggled to adjust to the vulnerability of our situation. Then we got pregnant right away and my wife was sick 23 hours a day. Our daughter was born eight weeks early and spent her first month in the NICU. I moved in with my wife when we got married and a month after my daughter got out of the NICU we moved back to Vancouver. It was nuts!
So I know about life in crazy turmoil.
Like the time I fell in the ocean in Alaska and got hospitalized for pneumonia, or the job where I got threatened by gang bangers daily. But those are stories for another post.
Another kind of challenging season, and one I personally hate the most, is when I throw everything I’ve got at making a change and it doesn’t work. It’s called aspirational pain, and even though I’m not a “Type A” personality I do have expectations about what my life should look like.
Then God Blew my Mind
During a season in my life where I felt particularly down, I heard the Lord say, “You’re not qualified to judge yourself.” It rocked me to the core, as so often happens when God speaks so clearly.
This was a confounding statement. It ran completely opposite to the way I viewed life and how it works. It led me on another segment of my quest for wisdom that took several years to unpack.
First off, if I couldn’t judge me then who could? I mean of course God is my judge but does that mean I’m not sitting in judgment of myself also?
Secondly, I spent a ton of time working to improve myself and how was I to improve myself if I didn’t know how well I was or wasn’t doing?
It’s True Though
I don’t know the struggles other people face. I don’t know what they went through to get what they have, so I can’t compare my journey to theirs.
I don’t actually know myself either. I don’t see the real me so I don’t know how far short I fall of my own potential.
I don’t really know what sort of journeys God is taking me on to become who I really am, so I don’t know how far I’ve gotten on that path.
I do know that my own idea of what I want evolves from year to year. I also know that God can make anything part of the plan to initiate and grow me (He is able to make all things work for good…).
So the truth is, if you don’t know exactly where you’re going, or which of the many ways to get there you are on, how can you know if you are on track or on pace?
There was something very liberating in this thinking.
There was also something very depressing.
How am I to make plans with the Lord? I mean I’m promised that if I delight myself in the Lord, He will give me the desires of my heart. How do I explore the desires of my heart? Is there no such thing as goal setting in God’s Kingdom? It’s very confusing.
After a lot of moping, I’d end up setting goals again. It would work for a time, and then it became a list of things to fail at. I’d be depressed all over again. Wasn’t God the least bit interested in changing my life?
I have a purpose and God’s very invested in it. He does reveal to me what his plans are. In fact Jesus said, “I’ve withheld nothing from you.”
The Christian pat answer is–don’t try to do it in your own strength. “Let go and let God.” Etc. It’s not wrong, but I needed a little more specific applicable knowledge to make that thinking work for me.
In the world, outcomes are everything. Some people are obsessed with outcomes. We’re trying to observe the cause and effect relationship with our own actions and then hack it so we get where we’re trying to go. (In instinctive archery we call this Kentucky windage.)
That’s not entirely wrong either. If you don’t poke your head up once in a while you will find the currents of your life will drift you into the same situations repeatedly. For many of us those default circumstances are unhealthy. Eating too much, sleeping too little, drinking too much, tragic love affairs, and so on.
We do need to take time in some seasons to autopsy our thinking and actions, to reverse engineer what’s bringing us to our outcomes.
On the other hand, if we only take actions that we believe will lead to the desired outcomes we live in denial of our own lack of perspective.
Walking by Faith Means…
…doing things that don’t make sense. It’s good to apply human wisdom to problems if God isn’t weighing in with better wisdom. What generally happens is that God indicates a direction that doesn’t look like it would work.
Poor Gideon had to give up most of his army, his swords and his shields. The children of Israel marched around a walled city and shouted at it. You think you got problems?!?
In order to ignore God’s leading we stop listening to Him entirely. We forgo intimacy for the sake of doing what makes sense to us.That’s the opposite of the 23rd Psalm. David said, I take comfort for thou art with me. Not, I’m sure glad God only asks me to do things I agree with.
Why don’t we already have our destiny?
Hey, no blame, no shame. I constantly feel like I’m behind schedule on my life’s purpose. Abraham was supposed to be the father of many nations. He wanted it, God wanted it for him. He didn’t get a son till he was 100 years old.
The fastest way to bring favor into your life is swift obedience to the things that require faith.
Let me put it a little differently. My purpose in life is to help people unlock their Authentic Life Adventure. Basically find and live their purpose. There are a number of ways people can help you “find your why” that will work just fine. The thinking is, since knowing your purpose is very motivating, once you know what it is you’ll engage with it.
I’ve discovered the opposite is quite true. Once we get some roadblocks out of the way, having a clear purpose does propel us to a life of meaning and fulfillment–yes! But just knowing what you were born to do is often not enough. The same “stuff” that makes it hard to see your purpose will cloud your ability to take baby steps toward your destiny.
There is a process to discovering who you are…
…and it starts with unlearning who you are not. We can’t find and own our true identity until we fix our relationship with the one in whose image we are made. It’s a process of intentionally receiving from God, engaging with what he gives you until it transforms you, and handing it off to those around you.
Schedule a zoom call with me and lets talk about it using this link.