On January 8th I published a post titled “Fresh Out of Ignorance”. This past Monday morning I signed on to work on a new piece and, to my surprise, the aforementioned post was in my drafts. Not only had it been removed from my site, the final version that went up was lost and all that was left of it was a very rough previous version. I wanted to cry.
I started re-reading it and it didn’t take long for me to realize that I not only failed to learn the lesson I was supposed to have learned when I wrote it, I had written it from the wrong perspective. In it, I talked about the dangers of being ignorant to the devices of the enemy and how he uses those devices to place and keep us in bondage. And while it is important to be mindful of the devil’s tactics and schemes, it is equally important to recognize that we are the ones that give him the ability to use his tactics and schemes to put chains on us when we fail to place our attention where it should be in the first place.
In the original post I shared a dream I had had a few days prior and I will do so again as it helps to further prove this point.
In this dream, a relative of mine was married to a person of high status and because of this, she felt a need to protect her identity. Consumed by fear and worry, she refused to stay at home during the day for all of the people peeking through her windows trying to see who the wife of this celebrity was and she was afraid to go out in public for fear that everyone would eventually figure out who she was. For this reason she spent her days in her car – its windows tinted very dark – driving around in circles. With no destination in mind, she would just get on the freeway and drive, eventually making her way back to her starting point and then driving that same route again and again until sunset. She was going nowhere neither literally nor in the metaphorical sense.
After waking up from that dream, God told me to get out of the bed and get on my knees. It was 2am and because my alarm was set for 4am, I hesitated a bit before finally getting up. He then proceeded to give me the interpretation of the dream:
He has been making the same promise to me for the last few months, constantly telling me, “This is My will concerning you” and then providing confirmation that I can trust that this promise is directly from Him. The problem is, because I have not been able to rationalize it in my finite mind, to say that I’ve had great difficulty receiving it is a gross understatement. I have wrestled with this thing until it has brought me to tears. I have laid prostrate before Him, asking Him to make sense of it all.
It isn’t the promise itself that I wrestle with. It’s the thought of the pain that will surely follow if it doesn’t come to pass that sends me running in the opposite direction. I’ve been going back and forth and back and forth – truly double-minded and unstable in all my ways. So at 2am on that Wednesday morning, He demanded that I make a decision, once and for all, about whether or not I was going to receive or reject this promise. He let me know that by having me caught between belief and doubt, between receiving and rejecting, the devil had put me in a loop and I was now going in circles – I was getting nowhere. Despite the fact that I’ve been praying more than I have in years and seeking God’s face daily, the enemy had effectively stagnated my spiritual progress. In an effort to force me out of that loop, God let me know that I had to make a decision. And I chose to receive it.
When God makes us a promise, it is easy to become fixated on it rather than Him. No matter what it is that we desire – even if it is something that He has vowed to give us – He wants to be our heart’s deepest desire. He will not settle for second place. I thought that by faithfully publishing a new post every week, I had successfully demonstrated that He is my number one but the battle taking place in my mind has proven otherwise.
The surest sign that you are putting too much energy into something is if you are constantly worrying about it. And that has nothing to do with being ignorant of the devil’s devices. It has everything to do with focus.
Jesus covered a lot of ground while giving the Sermon on the Mount and He certainly didn’t forget to let us know what our priority is to be. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all of these things shall be added unto you.”(Matthew 6:33)
In theory, seeking God first sounds easy to do but if there is any confusion about how that is to be done in practice, we have but to read the entire chapter to find our answer:
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets… But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.”
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues…to be seen by others… But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.”
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting… But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”(Matthew 6:2-18)
The fact that Jesus is telling us how to give to the needy, how to pray and how to fast lets us know that some of the things we should be doing are giving, praying and fasting. The list of things we can do to seek God isn’t exhaustive but this gives us somewhere to start.
My point in saying all of this is that if God has made you a promise concerning your future – or any promise for that matter – do not allow yourself to become so consumed by it that it becomes your focus. Doing so will only cause it to be delayed.
The truth of the matter is if God were to bring our promise to us before the appointed time, we would wreck it before we ever had a chance to enjoy it. If there is a delay between the time God reveals what it is He intends in our lives and the time we actually see it manifest, it’s because He knows that we are not yet ready to receive it. This means that the promise does not fit the individual that we currently are. That individual isn’t capable of walking in that promise and by refusing to do the work necessary to become the person that is capable of walking in it, we do ourselves a great disservice.
Let us resolve to be so consumed with growing in God and working for Him that we almost forget about – or at least spend a lot less time worrying about – what comes next. Instead of allowing our promise to distract us from our purpose, let’s allow our purpose to distract us from our promise.