Everything about us starts on the inside and that is sacred ground because God has made his home there (see Ephesians 3:17).
Some days our insides seem to experience things that frustrate our plans and expectations. We wonder, how, why, and help!
In this life we will have trials and various things we will face. We may feel held back, hindered or disconnected completely — but I truly believe as we go to God with the issues bubbling in our hearts, he will be faithful to direct us rightly. I recently felt God leading me to write about a personal struggle I sometimes face. As I took it to Him, he was faithful to help me understand why I kept getting stuck in the struggle, rather then becoming free from it.
Working Through It Series: When Our Struggles Collide With Our Calling (1)
Two big factors that can hold us back in our life purpose and calling are:
There’s a tug inside I feel at times. It’s as if good and evil are hashing it out within. As much as I want to shrug and tiptoe away, ignoring the inner tension, it wouldn’t be good for my heart and mind. As a writer there is a tension which presents itself, some days louder than others.
It is two faced pride and just when I think I am rid of one, the other comes to call.
- Pride of thinking too much of myself.
- Pride of thinking I am less than.
Either way these are all about me.
“I” is in the middle where God should be, and my self-focus blows everything out of proportion. “I can’t believe they ____,” or “I can’t do this, how will I ever make this happen?”
Inward things tend to be subtle, and I think this is where the deceit of the situation creeps in.
When we have spent a good amount of energy fixating on things not within our control, or on things made up in our minds — we can become glazed over and forget how big God is; how loving and powerful he is. We may discount certain thoughts that lean toward pride because, let’s be honest, sometimes it is hard to tell.
It is hard to tell if we do not have fresh truth to hold it up to. This happens to me when I live off of yesterday’s crumbs instead of reaching out for a fresh slice of God’s living bread. What about you?
How Our Hearts Talk To Our Brains
How I see God and how I see how God sees me are two of the biggest factors that meet up with how I live out my days.
When I am living on either side of pride (in the above example), I am off track from the road that keeps my heart steady. I stop depending on God because I assume “I messed up” so “I better fix it” — ouch! But God is merciful and has shown time and time again that though we get ourselves into sticky messes, he is still willing to reach out his hand freely.
When I am living on either side of pride, peace eludes me as the weight of the world and all there is to be done weighs on my shoulders. Pride = “I” and “I” hold myself back when I do not remember that God loves me no matter how much I “do” or don’t do. These are important yes, but God see’s my heart first, before my skin.
It is a daily coming back to the truth of Who is in control of our spinning world. This struggle of back and forth is tamed when I lean on the reassuring words of scripture, because trust me — I have tried sifting elsewhere, but nothing does it quite like inspired words from the universe beholder.
Why does pride hurt us and what do we do when it collides it with our calling? The issue with pride is, it holds us back from God’s best for us. No, we don’t always see what that is in the now, but we can be sure pride is a hindrance, where faith acts as a catapult. Pride can hold us back in our calling as writers because we may not move forward due to lack of confidence, or we may rush on ahead due to putting it in the wrong place.
In 1 Samuel we see the difference between pride and faith in the lives of Saul and Samuel. Saul had a track record for inconsistency in his walk and a bad habit of going his own way. He did not have a heart for God. Samuel on the other hand was very consistent in his walk and knew it was best to walk the right path over his own. He had heart for God and his ways.
When God called Samuel (3:10) he replied with willingness, “Yes, Lord, I am listening!” One can tell by his quick reply and choice of words that he had a relationship with God and that he was eager to obey. In contrast, Saul’s response shows evidence of not spending time with God. It shows his heart was not grounded in truth which leads to trust in God, even in seemingly impossible circumstances.
Saul’s response shows a wrongly placed confidence. When we trust in our efforts and capabilities alone, we are sure to fall. When we’ve been called up and out to do something for the Lord, dwelling on the meager and very limited ability of our flesh can steal the vision and hope of God’s infinite power and endless possibilities. Saul’s sight was tainted with wrong thinking because of his wrong living.
In her book, Uninvited, Lysa TerKeurst says, “…If we aren’t careful, being resistant can easily turn into being rebellious against divine appointments.”
I won’t taunt you any longer. Saul replied in a way I sadly relate to but hope to have less in common with over time. When God called on him he said, “You must have the wrong man!” (see 9:21)
Isn’t this so often how we feel about ourselves and what the Lord is asking of us? A family with an already full house who feels led to take another in. A husband called to preach but feeling inadequate.
A twenty something unsure of many things, and being asked to travel across the globe to volunteer. A woman after God’s heart, a writer and servant leader who struggles with space to receive grace in her own life, when she finds it so much easier to put the spotlight on everyone else.
Did you catch those last couple of lines?
It is true. Stages make me cringe. Just ask my friends or many fellow church members. My heart is good but my knees buckle easily…except for this past summer when directing VBS for the first time. I noticed there was a difference. When I spoke words like, “I don’t know how we will ____ but I know God can.” And things like, “God, I can’t do this on my own but I know you will be right here with me.”
The outcome was an overflow of God’s peace!
I did have my little index card “just in case” but the way the words came out and how engaged the kids were, showed me that even if we do not feel “called” to something (me = speaking) God can show up and get the job done.
There’s just one catch: He needs a willing heart.
David was no superhero. He was human and so are we.
He had a heart for God. He chose the sling over the heavy and super rocking weapons that were suggested to him, but he knew what his limits were. He knew he couldn’t raise that heavy sword up and do his best. He did however feel led to use what came natural to him (the sling) which he had been using. Most importantly, David trusted God to do what he couldn’t.
During VBS there were times we had to improvise. This reminds me of my daughter’s new teacher today. She was typically a second grade teacher but had been praying to be moved to Kindergarten. My daughter had already met her supposed teacher last week, but due to so many new kids being enrolled, they had to make another K class.
At first I tilted my head. How is this a good thing? My daughter already knows where her class is. We have not even seen this other lady.
I later found out that she was a left handed teacher and my daughter got so excited about this since she is too. And her new classroom was not as far down the hall, so it was easier to find. God always works things out according to his will when we pray for him to lead. This is what we had been doing all along: God, give our kids just the right person to lead them there at school.
This lady had a willing heart. She was willing to be moved to another grade when she was needed. Granted it was what her heart had been longing for, but even still, she had to do it without warning! This is what she said in class, “You have to be flexible or you might break!”
I couldn’t agree more.
So then, how do we deal with pride so WE CAN be ready and willing?
David did not cling to insufficiency, but clutched onto God for his confidence. He had Godfidence!
What if us writers thought of the words God has given us to speak or write to others, as a wrapped gift to be opened and shared? What if we took those words gently and spread them one by one into the white fabric, wrapped our fist around the well worn cloth, and sent the words soaring with a Grace-filled power that can’t be explained?
I have a feeling that as we choose our words wisely and remember God is on control, that those word-gifts will pierce many lies the enemy has left to fester in the hearts of our fellow man.
We will find that the power isn’t necessarily in the tool itself, but in the words spoken by faith coupled with effort by action + trust in God.
And when we live knowing the words given to us are not for us to keep hidden under a bushel, but to help others out of their personal pits (fear, stress, loneliness, abandonment, shame, to name a few) the pride issue will weaken and become buried in a sea of love.
When I think of David, I think of someone who was…
- Not afraid to be on the back burner.
- Not afraid to step onto the front burner when it was time.
- Not afraid to serve the very man (Saul) who was rude and crude.
- Not afraid to speak God’s words.
Matthew 23:12 The Message
11-12 “Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.
Can I just dance right now? God is helping me work through my issue of feeling “not up to par” and “not good enough to share His word” with others. He is reminding me and you of his truth which is why it is so important to live in it.
Recap & Application
Pride hindered Saul, but faith catapulted David. We always have a choice from where we’ll draw our strength and knowledge from. I want to be like David when he lived and moved forward in faith, focusing on the fact that the outcome is always in God’s hands.
We can write words and share our testimonies and trust that as we do our best and our keep our eyes on Him, He will do what we can’t. We can take things like, “My fear of being in the spotlight” and we can come at them from a different angle.
- God, I will let you have your way in my life, calling, situation. If the spotlight were to find me, I will trust it was by your doing and rest in that.
Let’s take the pride, subtle as it might be, to God today and ask him to help.
The more assured we are in God’s sovereignty over our life and situations, the less pride will be able to wedge itself in because we will no longer have to draw from the pool of self-assurance.
- We won’t have to think highly of ourselves (example: Trying to act important or knowledgeable when we aren’t for fear of _____) because we now realize we don’t have to know it all.
- We won’t have to think less of ourselves (example: Trying to hide physically from others or by darting in speech ) because we know where the gifts come from and Who we live for.
Do you deal with any of these pride issues? I know I do. Do you have practical wisdom to share? I welcome it and want to leave you with the following questions to ponder on.
- Where have you noticed a continued struggle in your own faith walk as a writer?
- What would you say to encourage another writer, who feels caught up in defeat’s web?
- Do you have a favorite scripture for combating guilt and seeing yourself & circumstance differently?
- Which end do you struggle with more: pride (look at me!) VS pride (don’t look at me..)
- Is there a helpful phrase someone shared or you read about that stuck like glue and now helps you?
If you feel led to share in a book I am penning, please send your story for review to firstname.lastname@example.org — thank you! I will leave you with this quote…
“What would happen if we lived as if every promise God gave us was true?”
– Bob Goff