Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m a planner, I love checking things off my list, and I’m always looking ahead wanting to improve things. I’ve learned over time that is one of the ways God has wired me and I love it, but I can also obsess over things and the same gifts God has given me to be fruitful, can become sinful.
This particular season has been all over the place. Two young kids at home, having my Mom move in with us for a season to serve her, responsibilities in my role at 121 increasing, and maybe being in my lower thirties…have all pushed me (for better or for worse) to be thinking of the future.
- Am I sure of where The Lord is leading me?
- Am I being obedient?
- Am I taking care of things today that will shape the future?
So with all of this swirling around in my head, I decided to go on solitude to spend uninterruped time with The Lord and I wanted to share my experience with you. It’s raw, it’s real, it’s personal, and I hope it brings encouragement to you wherever you are in your walk with The Lord.
The Holy Spirit Taught And Reminded Me
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” – John 14:26
No phone, no computer, no technology…just the Bible, a book, and a journal. It honestly took a couple of hours just to get the clutter out of my head and I immediately noticed how much slower I was reading His Word and therefore, paying attention.
Some of the quotes you’ll see here are direct notes from my journal so I can give you the best context for what I was thinking and what I believe The Lord was telling me.
“Am I ok NOT to live a life of significance if it means obedience?”
Ever since becoming a believer, there’s something within me that wants to do GREAT things for The Lord. I’m talking like reaching thousands if not millions from whatever He wants to do through me. I can’t quite explain it, but believe it’s from God and it’s never left me. However, this “signifiance” can also become an obsession where I forget the here and now in hopes of looking to the future. Almost like sacrificing what I think is “good” for what I think is “great.” God taught and reminded me that this is wrong. He humbled me.
Basically, what I heard was, “Mike, let’s say I only want you to reach 5 more people in your lifetime before I return or before you die…are you content with that? Are you content with me?” That was tough and humbling for me because my first reaction is “No! I want to do more than that!” which was later followed by “ok Lord, whatever you want done, that is what I’ll do.”
He had to humble me before He delivered what I believe was the real message in this solitude…
The Lord Establishes My Steps
When I first became a believer years ago my attitude was one that was all in, and didn’t care. For example, I learned to read the Bible, so I just read it. I learned to pray, so I just prayed. I learned about baptism, so I just got baptized. These things didn’t require a lot of thought or planning, but just naturally overflowed and happened out of me because I didn’t know any better and just wanted to follow Him.
When I first felt a call to ministry my attitude again was “all in.” What position? Didn’t matter. What responsibilities? Who cares. I just knew for a fact that I was to be in ministry and whatever God wanted me to do…I’d do.
When I first felt a call to write, “all in.” I just wrote. Whatever God put on my heart, I wrote. Launched a website and wrote and wrote and wrote. Whether a post looked all fancy, was easy to read, or just was words all over the screen, I just wrote because I knew God wanted me to write.
Here’s a picture of what happened, I was reading during solitude and thinking, then God literally gave me those words and reminded me of my past…so powerfully that I literally put my book down and immediately wrote out those reminders. Followed by…
“Then WHY would I do anything different now? The Lord is the same today as He was yesterday and will be the same tomorrow. If I trusted Him then, wouldn’t I trust Him just the same now? For my future? For everyone’s future?”
After that I found Proverbs 16, read through it, and basically laughed and cried at the same time. I’m pretty sure those in the coffee shop I was at thought I was crazy, haha. The entire chapter of Proverbs 16 was God’s affirmation to what I was thinking with Him saying “yes, this is true…this is how I operate and you have forgotten…welcome back home.”
A Lesson On Obedience
The script was flipped for me on this day in regards to obedience. I used to typically pray over and over again for me to be obedient. I was even doing it again as this solitude started. Is this a bad thing? Yes and no. Let me explain.
God taught me that my obedience at the end of the day merits nothing…but is proof of my love for Jesus.
You see, it’s only out of an overflow of my love for God that will bring true obedience. It goes from the inside out, not from the outside in. My obedience won’t make me love God more. My increased love for God will bring obedience.
When I’m not obedient, I’m not loving God. When I’m not obedient, I’ve taken my eyes off of Him.
When I love God, I’ll be obedient. When my eyes on are Him, I’ll be obedient.
I think we can pray for obedience, but only if that is out of an increasing love for God. Be careful not to just pray for obedience. If we are being “obedient” and not growing in our love for God, is that even obedience to begin with?
The Result Of Solitude
My result is to follow Jesus one day at a time. Should I still think of the future and plans? Absolutely, yes, but with an open hand realizing God establishes my steps, I don’t. Spending more time with Him and loving God more will bring the obedience that I desire because my desire in God will grow.
Taking things one day at a time might seem slow to me at times, but I’m learning it increases my trust in God and helps me not despise the days of small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10). I can trust that God is always at work and gives me air to breathe, one day at a time.
Therefore, my prayer is to humbly follow The Lord with everything I have, that He would display His power through me (Colossians 1:29).
I hope this encourages you and the Holy Spirit can remind you today of God’s goodness. He has a plan. He knows what He is doing. He doesn’t want us walking around stressing about the future and forgetting about today. Spend time with Him…maybe even have some solitude with Him for awhile. Let me leave you with this verse below as this was the result of my time with Jesus and I pray this is the same result with you as you follow Him.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:27