Setting Our Sights Too Low
If we cling to the relationship with God that we have…
If we cling to our beliefs rather than building the relationship with God…
If we settle for a small change, but forget that Jesus is a radical teacher even today…
If we’re not willing to let God lead us and we still are in charge of our lives…
Then we are settling for a severely limited life in Christ, when He is offering us the kingdom here on Earth. Remember that both John the Baptist and Jesus said that the kingdom is here, it is within and among us, it is everywhere. [Matthew 3:2, Luke 17:21] Jesus would take us all the way from an immersion in the world’s ways where our ego reigns to the kingdom where we would live totally in God.
My new book, Exodus: Our Story, Too, details the process that God revealed through the Exodus story of leaving behind our attachment and slavery to the world, our attachment to its ways, to our culture and how it taught us to be. At first leaving Egypt is a physical move from there, but then it becomes a daily process of facing our own rebelliousness and attachment to our own ego. The trek through the wilderness reveals our rebelliousness at the same time that God is keeping us alive and safe—no small task.
The long journey through the barren land reveals all these areas where we hang on to our preferences and comforts and to the known, whether it was problematic or not. A classical description of the spiritual journey has four stages: awakening, purgation, illumination and union. Many of us stop at awakening or early in the stage of purgation thinking that we have done more than enough. In the first three stages, we are still caught in the human dilemma of the paradox of wanting to be free to love God, but not willing to give up everything to do that. Our attachments to “our story,” our pain and suffering, or just to the world we know as opposed to the one God would lead us to which is unknown to us—all these things keep us in the world. Oh, we might believe in Jesus or say that we dedicate ourselves to Christ, but we are still captives of the world. We limit our stake in God’s world to being “letter of the law” people. Then we can choose which laws we will follow. But Jesus called us to follow Him, to embrace the Spirit of the law, not to be like the Pharisees who did everything so they looked good, but behind the façade was their true face….
It is only in totally following God’s will for us that we can leave the world behind and embrace God fully, allow Him always to lead us, allow Him to set our agendas, to bring us beyond anything the world can imagine for us. And this is part of the problem and why we cling to the world so much—we’re afraid of where God might send us. Africa? Asia? some distant island? What would we do? How would we do it? Because of our fear, we guard ourselves against any huge change in our lives and settle for small ones that we can manage and still stay in control of our lives.
When do you say “No!! I can’t do that!” to God? Is what He is suggesting outside your comfort zone? Is it something that you’ve never given yourself permission to do? Will you be on your own totally in doing it—is that your fear? Fear is definitely at the basis of our responses to God when he tugs at the edges of our minds with his soft whispers. [I Kings 19:12] He promises to be with us always, to equip us for the tasks ahead, to support us as we walk through anything, to love and forgive us always—look deeply into the Exodus story, his faithfulness to the Israelites is everywhere in that saga.
The truth is that we don’t believe Him. We don’t want to give up the familiar. We’re just like the Israelites, rebellious and not trusting in God. We would rather stay in slavery than step out into the unknown. And when we get to that wilderness, we want to run right back to Egypt, where life was so good! The only good thing about that life was that we knew day after day what our lives were about—slaving for another, overworking for someone else’s goals, deprived of a fully-lived life, a God-generated life—definitely not free.
It is our true selves, our souls, united with God’s inspiration for us that are capable of fulfilling our created promise, that can lead us to our true fulfillment and calling, that can provide joy and peace and laughter, purpose and a full life.
Don’t settle for less than who you really are! Don’t put on the brakes where God is concerned! Don’t limit what God can do in and for you by keeping control of your life! Let some fresh air in. Listen for his call. Entertain what he suggests and then do it. We Americans talk about how free we are, but we are captives of a system of thinking that enslaves us to thinking that everyone can pull themselves up by the bootstraps, that God helps those who help themselves, that only by directly tackling problems do we make any headway(and often we only address the most obvious part of a problem), that by being “nice” on the outside we are good on the inside. And more… Let God teach you who you really are. Let Him reveal your promise, your purpose. Don’t settle for less!
Trust in God is the main issue here: let God be in charge of our lives rather than we ourselves. The one thing I have learned in the 30+ years since I surrendered my life to God is that every single thing He suggested was affirming of my deeper self, truer self. I might have been breathless as I attempted the suggestion, but I could do it with His help. And so it went, step by step. I, too, was terrified of what He might ask of me after reading some of the saints’ biographies. In fact, for years I was waiting for the one big call—with some terror. When it didn’t come, I decided that it was more important how good and kind and gentle I was in dealing with everyone else and myself. That to love in each moment was the way. As I settled into this way of being, God began to reveal my purpose to me.
It took a good ten years after my husband died for my purpose to become clear, but in the meantime I was already working on it, unbeknownst to me. Bit by bit, through studying Spanish with a tutor, I was becoming a writer, as I did the weekly essays in Spanish that she required. By the time I moved to Charlotte six years later, I was starting to publish a bi-lingual blog on the spiritual life. My tutor had an accident later that year that meant she couldn’t be my editor anymore, so I dropped the Spanish blog.
In two dreams a few years later, God revealed my purpose to be 1)to connect the dots between Jesus’ teachings and 21st century life and 2)to make the kingdom real. I’ve kept up my blog now for nine years, the last six posting every week. I’ve written two books about the kingdom. And now I am wondering what is next.
It all unfolded so slowly without me knowing the ultimate purpose for years. It was not scary at all. All that I had feared was nothing! Nothing in my life had ever pointed to me being a writer, much less an author, so that was a surprise. But it all flows out of my training as a spiritual director. Naturally. Out of my experiences in life trying to resolve the legacy of a hell-fire-and-damnation church and out of the Holy Spirit’s inspiration. Directed by Him, not by me. It seems like the most natural thing I have done. It uses everything I have learned in transitioning out of the hell-fire-and-damnation church of my childhood into a full-blown lover of God. Amen.
Questions to ponder over the week: Am I still controlling my life or am I letting God take me where He will? Am I uncomfortable in this transition from the world to the kingdom? How do I handle the discomfort? On a scale of 1 to 100, how would I rate my ability to trust God in directing my life? How would I move to much more trust and confidence in Him? Will I let Him lead me? Will I let Him show me who I really am to Him?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who trust God, who love God in all things. May we put His will ahead of our own. May we love God with all of ourselves. Amen!
Check out my new book, “Exodus: Our Story, Too,” at exodus-our-story-too.blogspot.com. or on amazon.com under my full name, Patricia Said Adams. The book reveals the template, the stages, of our journey in God from slavery to the world to the kingdom of God. Too often we stop short, maybe way short, of where God would take us. Read about how far we might actually go, if we would totally trust God.
If you contributed to the book and want to buy it, I’ll happily refund $5.00 of the purchase price. Just message me your address when you buy it and I’ll send you a check.
Check our the archives of my blog going back to 2011 on this page.