Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tuesdays with Jesus #185

#185 "Are You Shrinking Back?"
January 26, 2011
"But the righteous will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him." (Hebrews 10: 38)
I know it's not Tuesday. But I say to you that it's better late than never. The last few days have been jammed packed with things to do around Schultzville, and there just wasn't a minute to write. I was actually going to skip this week. I'm being honest here. I was hoping that no one would notice and I could skate by. How like my God to not let me get away so easily. New people were subscribing last night and first thing this morning I read the verse at the top of your screen. It stopped me dead in my tracks.
I spent so many years of my life being a people pleaser. No one wanted to be liked, accepted, and able to keep everyone in my life happy more than me. "No" was not a word that was common to my vocabulary. God is tenacious, and through His Holy Spirit and His Word, deliverance from that addiction eventually came. It was an arduous process, full of scraped knees and victories, depending on the day. Praise God that nothing is impossible for Him. I then exchanged that dysfunction for a full out obsessive desire to please God. The thought of breaking the heart of God brings horrible brokenness to my own. I want my Heavenly Father to smile when He thinks about me. I want Him to elbow some angels, pointing at me, saying, "That's my girl. In her I am well-pleased."
I remember a day that I told what most would call a "little white lie." Someone asked me to keep a secret and my eldest daughter asked me a question about the situation. I out and out told her a lie in order to protect the other person's confidentiality. The minute the words escaped my lips, I wanted to crawl into a hole and hide. Not because I expected God to strike me with lightning for my transgression. I know better than that. It was because I knew with every fiber of my being that God was not smiling in that moment. He clearly hates lies. In fact a lying tongue is one of the six things the Lord hates. (See Proverbs 6: 16-19) He hates it so much that it's listed twice on the list. I paced and I cried and I apologized. I had to make it right. I went to my daughter and confessed that I had lied, telling her that I couldn't reveal the truth because I had promised, but that what I told her was a big fat lie. Not a little white one...a big fat one, because a lie is a lie in God's eyes. Humans have manufactured degrees of lying. After telling the truth, only then did I know that my behavior was pleasing to God. Whew! I could breathe.
This morning, I was reminded that those who "shrink back" are not pleasing to God. To shrink back in the Greek language means a few different things. It means to draw back, to withdraw, or to be timid. The phrase is used of those who "from timidity hesitate to avow what they believe, or to be unwilling to utter from fear." It pictures someone who cowers.
The first thing that comes to your mind is most likely fear of speaking up for your faith in Christ in front of others. There's that natural fear of being ridiculed or rejected. So we shrink back in timidity, keeping our opinions and beliefs to ourselves. We cower. This is not pleasing to God. Are you "shrinking back"?
I believe that there are much more subtle ways of shrinking back. I believe that, because the devil's MO is not very often the use of the obvious. He knows that if he counterfeits, uses subtlety, and slinks around your life, he can trap you. He can even deceive you into thinking that shrinking back is a good thing and that it's God who is directing your steps. One of the ways he does this is through busyness and using the everyday circumstances of your life.
Do you have a calling on your life? Something to do, that you clearly know God has ordained and chosen you for? Are you following through with that plan? Are you obeying? Or..has life gotten in your way and you are now confused about the call and whether it was real to begin with? Or...does it seem that you are just too busy and too many circumstances are getting in the way, and it must be God telling you that now is just not the right time? So you quit. You say that you'll do it later. You cower. You shrink back.
Does it seem like any time you start to fulfill your calling, all "hell" breaks loose in your life? I can raise my hand on that one! I've experienced sickness, family emergencies, being called on to help in dire situations where I'm the only candidate, and on and on, just when I'm revving up my engines to go forward in the call on my life. And I'm ashamed to say that many times I have shrunk back and talked myself into believing that God was trying to tell me that now just wasn't the time.  I think the blinders to the enemy's lies are starting to come off. God will always complete what He started. What has been conceived will be delivered. Only you and I can stop it. By shrinking back. The revelation of this truth produced a good amount of godly sorrow leading to repentance in me today.
We need to take the example of some early New Testament believers. Would you read Hebrews 10: 32-39, the verses that just precede the verse at the top of your screen? We are given the example of some folk who stood their ground in the face of great suffering. They were insulted and persecuted. They had their belongings confiscated. They were ridiculed and rejected. And they did it all with joy. In these verses we are admonished to "not throw away our confidence" and "to persevere." We are admonished to not shrink back and if we do, our God will not be pleased.
Right in the midst of all of the things that pull me this way and that, I need to continue to persevere in the calling that God has placed on my life. You need to persevere in whatever it is that is your unique assignment for God on planet Earth. That's why, right now, the laundry is piled high, my crossword puzzle is begging to be done, and the phone is being left unanswered. That is why even when people need me, and tragedies beset us, and busyness is running rampant, I still have a job to do for my Lord. It must be my priority. I have to stop shrinking back. I've done that too many times. And maybe, just maybe, that's why our callings don't progress according to the vision that God gave us once upon a time. Self-sabotage perhaps. Are you sabotaging God's best for your life? We don't have a clue what God has in store for us if we would just stay true to Him and His assignments on our lives. I'm sure it is something beyond our wildest dreams. What would our world be like if every believer followed the call, made it a priority and stopped "shrinking back?"
I've heard some sweet words spoken over the course of my life. Words like, "you've been accepted." "I love you." "Will you marry me?" "I do." "It's a girl." Times two. "It's a boy." Times two. "I love you Gigi." But one day...I want to hear the sweetest words that anyone, ever, will utter from their lips to my ears. I want to hear, "Well done, my good and faithful servant. Here she is! This is my daughter. In her I am well pleased."
"But we're not quitters who lose out. Oh, no! We'll stay with it and survive, trusting all the way." (Hebrews 10: 39 The Message)     
Living the Word along with you, 
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