Monday, July 27, 2015

No Turning Back

Have you ever been headed in one direction only to turn around and go back to where you came from? Sometimes this is necessary, like when my daughter forgets her glove for softball practice or we leave the library books sitting on the table. Oh, but over the last few days, I've been reminded that this strategy has no place when it comes to walking in faith. 

Upon returning home from the Proverbs 31 She Speaks Conference, God has been urging me to keep taking the next step. While in North Carolina, my Father, the One who sees me, loves me and has a plan for me spoke much to my heart. I was reminded that I am His Masterpiece and His daughter...a woman with a calling she's worthy of walking out. Prayer and conversation with a wise woman challenged and convicted me, encouraged and equipped me. This friend knows my story, believes in my calling and is aware of my struggles. During our time together she spoke truth to me and talked with me about my mat. The place my mind and heart sometimes stays to be left paralyzed and defeated. 

I've thought about this more and God reminded me that there are times He's led me off my mat and worked through me. I've stepped off the mat and out of my comfort zone...just last week I left the farm and boarded a plane, 10 years ago there's no way that would have happened. He brought other memories to mind and I was blessed to recall the faithfulness of our Father. The trip down memory lane didn't end there as God showed me a reel of completely different situations...times that tend to follow these big steps of faith. Friend, these steps of faith aren't limited to stepping out and doing things for God, but are often connected to the thoughts in my head and beliefs in my heart. 

I know what the Bible, what God, says about my identity, my worth and His love, can believe it in my head and act because of it, but then I often regress. Satan attacks, criticism comes or I make a mistake and I'm right back where I've been...I turn around and go back to my mat. The one Jesus talks about in John 5:8 when he says, "Get up. Pick up your mat and walk." The invalid was told what to do and he did it. In the past few years I've been getting up and walking when God says, but I've forgot to pick up my mat. I've left it there and far too often returned to that sad, sorry place.

All this thinking has put some pictures in my head. I envision myself stepping out in faith, following God with confidence though my feet may be shaking and voice quivering and I see Him do things through me I never expected. Those are good things to see, but then I see myself coming back to a mat that is covered with lies - you're not good enough, you're not worthy, you don't deserve this, God can use someone else. My friend mentioned the difficulty in watching this happen and now as I type it out for you, and especially me, it breaks my heart too. 

I know writing about this and shedding a few tears isn't going to change it, so I've been asking God to help me. I believe He's starting to answer that prayer as He brought a few passages to mind...

This idea of turning back is addressed in Genesis 19:26 where we read, "But Lot's wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt." She didn't turn back, she simply looked back and disobeyed the command God had given. Friend, we too are given a command...Jesus has told us to pick up our cross and follow Him. Have you ever played "Follow the Leader" and spent the whole game looking at the person behind you? It won't work! The same is true as you and I follow Christ...we must keep our eyes on Him and follow in His steps. That doesn't happen when I'm returning to my mat. 

Luke 9:62 came to mind as well - "Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Now, as a farm girl this verse speaks my language...plowing is something my husband does every spring and fall. It's a job that takes time and concentration. It's a process that serves a purpose for the crops we grow and harvest. Once he starts the tractor on a pass down the field, he never puts it in reverse, but instead keeps his eye on the marker and goes straight ahead. As I think about this God is telling me to do the same...keep your eyes on me Jill and keep going forward. It's also interesting to think about the context of this verse, Jesus says these words after some potential followers want to go back before they obey. When God calls us to obey and I believe this relates to obedience in regards to our calling and our thoughts, we must move ahead. Friend, we can't go back and do the things we've always done or believe the thoughts we've always believed. 

I know this is hard, I think I've struggled with it my entire life, but let's take some encouragement from the account of Ruth. Naomi has told Ruth and Orpah to stay in their homeland, but Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God." (Ruth 1:16) At the time she didn't know how the story would end, but we do. She didn't just follow Naomi, she was following God and think about where that led! Another point to take from this verse is - sometimes others will try to encourage us to turn back, to return to the mat. It may be through a person's critical word or Satan's deceitful lie, but either way we must learn a lesson from Ruth and stay the path, take one step at a time and go where God leads. 

I don't know if this a struggle for you, but I've clearly been reminded that it is a big one for me and how I long to pick up my mat to never sit on it again! I'm asking God to help you and me continue moving forward and closer to Him whether it's through big leaps of faith or small steps of obedience. As we walk that path may He continue to encourage and equip us to keep pressing on and let go of all desires to turn back!! 

3 comments:

  1. This is AWESOME! What a powerful teaching, Jill! I am so proud of you. And, as always, I love how you pulled in so much Scripture to gird up your teaching and your amazing farm experience. I am cheering you on, sweet friend!!

    Love you,

    me

    ReplyDelete
  2. I couldn't agree more. Wendy's words are salted with TRUTH! Jill, your teaching blesses me beyond measure. I love you my dear friend...

    ReplyDelete
  3. This was posted almost a year ago,but yet it is perfect for where I am now. Reading 5 Habit's with P 31. God is good and his timing is perfect. He brought the story of the man on the mat back to me a few days ago. I just wondered why, I did not follow up or even look at it. Now I know why He wanted me too. This is me I have heard and read this time and time again but never from this perspective which reminds me of something Lysa Terkeurst wrote in one of her books." Father change my perspective" I probably need this the most in the way I see me.....again my e mail culbert.loretta@yahoo.com. If you can please help me. I want my husband, I want my marriage and above all I want God. I just keep going back to my mat...

    ReplyDelete