Write it out and make it plain.
Several months ago, I was entering into a season of life change and focus. I put the following on the whiteboard in my home office. I wanted to be guided how I processed the days ahead. A career shift made for a desperate reliance upon the Lord. I was inspired to write these simple encouragements to guide my life. I would like to write to you that I follow these to a “t” but that would be disingenuous. I may shoot 20%. Yet, even at handling this with such difficulty, it has been incredibly powerful and helpful.
Always pray before activity and decisions.
This is a gut check to understand which I am following. Am I operating out of fear, insecurity, and ambition? What Paul would call “the flesh”? Or in prayer through the Holy Spirit? In prayer, I shift ever so incrementally toward humility, placing my feet on the Kingdom and its foundations. I am more aware of being hemmed in and taken care of by the Father.
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” – Philippians 2:1-4
A note on selfish ambition and vain conceit…. This gives us a clue that pursuits made outside of the Kingdom in the long run will not count. A pure waste.
There is always time for prayer
This one speaks to my priorities. I really do believe prayer moves, changes and effects outcomes during tough times. If there is one priority above all else, it is talking with God. When taking on urgent and stressful tasks, it is easy to be convinced those are more important than getting my priorities set through prayer with Jesus.
Submit, be humble. Be led everywhere.
This is an encouragement to position my heart in such a way as to be willing to act on what I hear in prayer. The gentle nudges and suggestions from our respectful Father matter and make a difference. I tend to bring my own plans and agendas to prayer because those require no submission and humility. They are my plans and I am already bought in. His plans are different. I am rarely convinced that those plans are good for me or headed in the right direction. In those situations submission and humility are necessary. In relinquishing leadership and self rule, I let go of a massive burden. I am no longer responsible for outcomes and I am set free to love, act, create, and live well.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 4:1
Act & obey quickly
This one comes from personal experience. When I act quickly, I find that it is a key indicator that my heart has been pre positioned toward obedience. Meaning I have decided to obey before I hear the words of life. Versus an attitude which states “I will follow You Lord as long as what you say is agreeable.” I notice this with our kids. As a parent, I struggle with my kids not when they obey immediately but when they delay obedience for whatever reason. An attitude which tests every word and then decides is actually involved in self-rule. I am terrible at self-rule. I want God-rule over my heart.
You are fully loved as a son.
This encouragement is the bedrock of obedience. I need encouragement that indeed my Father wants the very best for me even when he takes me through seasons of pain. Or even when he asks me to do humiliating things or pursue unorthodox paths. The plans for my life I have conjured up out of fantasy seem to fit well. I have thought much about them and easily ask the Lord to bless them. Often times the plans the Lord offers are unbelievable, unwieldy and hard to follow. Knowing He has committed Himself to me as a loving and kind Father solves the mystery of obeying a tyrant, or a cruel boss. He is neither.
13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” – Romans 8:13-14
In a following post, I will get to “Starving unhealthy appetites and actions.”
All the best, Shea.