Tuesday, January 3, 2017

For or with? An important question!

Let me ask you  a question...would you rather have someone do something for you or with you? Now I know that might depend on what or who we are talking about, but recently I've been challenged and changed by a version of this question.

Stop with me and think about how God would answer this question. Do you think He'd prefer we do something for Him or with Him?

Well friend, since God can do all things and there is nothing He needs you or me to do for Him, I'll guess He'd prefer us to work with Him.

I don't think it's wrong to have a desire to do something for God and bring Him glory, but that can't be our only focus, or primary one for that matter. Let me explain...

Over the past few years, I've felt the call to write. I've had outlines, chapter titles and even wrote a book proposal. I've started and stopped. I've given up and given in. I've tried and failed. I've been frustrated and overwhelmed. I believe I had good intentions, but realize I didn't have good results.

God has taught me through this process. Though my efforts didn't end like I expected Romans 8:28 is, and will always be true - "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."

My time hasn't been wasted though few have read those words...in that process God spoke to my heart, strengthened my faith and matured me. He worked for good and brought me to this place. A place where He can change my thinking and transform my mind.

This past fall, He put another writing idea on my heart and honestly I was hesitant. I didn't want to start and stop again. I didn't want to strive after something that wouldn't happen. I wanted to be sure this was God's idea and not mine, so instead of writing I started seeking, studying and sharing.

Instead of chapters for a book, I studied topics for our local Titus24U group. Instead of writing words for a book, I shared short studies on this blog. As I did this God worked in my heart...I was learning from the lessons I was teaching - I surrendered the idea of writing and God transformed my thinking about it.

About a month ago, when the idea of writing again rose to the surface, I started to wrestle. So I went to prayer and sought advice from the Lord. I had no immediate answer, but continued to pray, seek and listen.

Days before Christmas as I worked with my children a phrase came to mind - do this with me, not for me. I didn't hear a voice, but this thought kept running through my head and it had my attention. And friend, I pray it has your attention as well.

Has God put a calling on your heart? Is there something you desire to do? Have you tried in the past, but long to finish in the future? Perhaps this approach will help you as well.

Instead of striving to do something for God, why not join Him and do something with Him? This shift in thinking has impacted me tremendously. I'm pressing on and working on putting a study together, but I no longer feel the pressure to perform or desire to do. I'm not striving towards a goal, but working with my God. Writing is not a burden or task on my never ending to-do list, but instead a blessing and opportunity to build a relationship with my heavenly Father.

As I press on and into the Lord, a familiar verse encourages my heart. In Matthew 19:26 we read, "But Jesus looked at them and said to them, 'With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'" Friend, when we shift our focus and change our thinking, our goal is no longer on accomplishing something for God, but instead acquiring a stronger relationship with Him. This is a little thing that makes a big difference.

And the difference isn't limited to our relationship with God, this thinking also affects our relationships with others. I've been challenged to apply this "not for, but with" approach to my husband and children. Unlike God there are times and things people need us to do for them, but as people we are designed in God's image and created for relationship.

The other day while doing something for my husband, I was convicted of not doing it with him. We were together and doing the same thing, but I was not engaged at all. My desire was to bless him...the activity might have, but my involvement did not. If my goal was to bless him, the mission was accomplished, but if as a wife my on-going prayer is for our relationship to grow, I failed.

Then with my kids, there are times I ask them to do something for me...which certainly is an OK thing for a Mom to do, but it's not the only thing we should do. Our kids need responsibilities and should understand our expectations, but also need a relationship with us. Last week while prepping for a birthday party, I found myself coming up with jobs for every child to do when the Holy Spirit again convicted my heart - "not for, but with". We then joined forces and though the jobs maybe took longer, we invested in our relationships instead of just completing our list.

So friend, I'm not sure if this is a change in your thinking, but today I encourage you to focus on these thoughts and reflect on your day. Do you tend to do things FOR others and God or WITH them? There is a difference.

We spent some time talking about this with our kids...it was interesting to hear their thoughts and perspectives. Definitely proof that they value time WITH ones they love. Also a reminder that working for someone doesn't always lead to wanted or lasting results. If we find ourselves always doing something for someone we can burn out and even grow bitter. We don't want that when it comes to relationships of any kind.

Finally, I'll close with this...I've committed to keep moving forward with the writing of the study God has on my heart. I've surrendered all thoughts of the finished project and am focused on joining God for the journey. I'm trying to be disciplined and have the desire to persevere. I know I can't do it all, so I continue to seek God's direction and will follow where He goes. I'm not sure what that means for this blog, so if it seems I'm MIA that's why. I invite you to pray WITH me as I walk this road of faith. And friend, I'd love to pray WITH you too. If there's something on your heart, leave me a comment or send me a message and I will join you in praying to the One who hears and promises to be WITH us always!

May these words encourage your heart as you press on...

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. 
Do not be afraid and do not be discouraged, 
for the Lord your God will be WITH you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9

2 comments:

  1. Jill, I just love reading your words. I too remember the time God spoke these same words ... this same message... to me. Although I think you said it much better than I did at the time. :)

    I'm praying God will continue to pour out His words through you as you seek to join Him in what He is doing and will be doing in and through you as you teach and encourage women through the Word.

    Everything is always better when we do it WITH someone, especially WITH GOD.

    Love you, Wendy

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  2. Jill, I love this message and really needed to hear it. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete