You have prayed fervently for days, months and even years for God to heal you, save you, deliver you from this circumstance or that crisis or even the blandness of your life. Just when you think He’s not paying you any attention, you hear it. The Holy Spirit whispers in your ear “child, if you want_______ you will have to_______. (You can fill in the blanks for yourself). The relief, the joy of hearing from God is quickly replaced with dread. “But God, I don’t want to do that”.
This is it, a great epiphany from God, it’s what you’ve been praying and waiting for, but when it comes, it’s not what you want to hear. You can’t possibly do what He’s asking, you say to yourself “it’s too uncomfortable, I don’t get along with those people, there’s too much risk, what if I fail, and I could lose…”
It’s Not Me it’s You
God has it ready for you, the path is clear the door is open, but He’s waiting for you to do the work. The work might be painful, it’s hard, “I’m not sure I have those skills. I’m too busy. I have too many responsibilities. In other words, sometimes, it’s not that we are waiting on God, but God is waiting on us, if He said it, what’s more important our will or His? What’s crazy is that He is answering our prayers, but not liking the path we might have to take to get there prevents us from receiving what God has for us.
The Promise Land
You don’t have to go too far into the bible to find the consequences to an unwillingness to be uncomfortable. Through Moses, God performed great and miraculous signs to secure the release of the Hebrews from slavery. He parted the Red Sea to ensure the Egyptians would not overtake them again. But even though God showed His power and amazing glory to the Hebrews they became forgetful of what they’ve been delivered from and ungrateful do to their uncomfortable state.
Life in Egypt, a life of slavery was more comfortable to some than wandering freely in the dessert, waiting on the Lord. The disobedience of the Hebrews disqualified them from entering the promise land, Numbers 14:30. How many of them and for how long did the Hebrews cry out to their God for deliverance from slavery and when deliverance finally came, they rejected it and God because it didn’t look like what they wanted.
A Tool from the Toolbox
I’ve been reading this book The Tools: 5 Tools to Help You Find Courage, Creativity, and Willpower–and Inspire You to Live Life in Forward Motion. It’s a self-help book that is surprisingly very biblical. (Although, not too surprising, a lot of self-help relies on biblical ideas cloaked in worldly language) I almost stopped reading it because it calls on “a greater power” and refers to receiving help from the “universe”. But if you replace those terms with God and the power of God you realize the book aligns a great deal with principles in scripture. I know my help comes from the creator and not the creation so once I got past those terms, I found this book to be helpful.
The second tool described in the book is called the Reversal of Desire. We are to use this tool to face head on those things we avoid doing whether out of fear or pain. Imagine all those things you avoid doing, having a difficult conversation with your boss or co-worker, making a much needed phone call, attending a networking event. Do avoiding these activities make things easier or harder? Or an even better question does avoiding help you achieve your goals? Nope, in fact continued avoidance guarantees you’ll never reach your goals.
“The biggest difference between those who succeed and those who fail at any endeavor is their level of commitment. Most people would like to be committed. But in practice, commitment requires an endless series of small painful actions. When a person has no way to deal with that pain, his commitment falls apart” (Stutz & Michels, 2012 pg. 64).
The authors details 3 phrases you are to use when facing situations you usually avoid.
- “Bring it On”
- “I love pain”
- “Pain sets me free” (pg. 41)
Embracing and facing what makes you uncomfortable is how you will build up courage and confidence. It takes being honest with yourself. I often pray for God to just tell me what to do. Can I get a step one, can I get a step two? And in the process of waiting for divine step by step instructions, I’m being idle, not even fully using the tools and resources I have because I’m waiting for an instruction manual. I have to think about what I’m doing while waiting to hear from God. Are situations arising in my day-to-day life that I’m avoiding. I have to be honest with myself as I wait on the Lord, what am I not doing and why am I not doing it. I might get that next step instruction I’ve been waiting on if I stop allowing everything I don’t want to do to cause unproductively.
“Your experience of pain changes relative to how you react to it. When you move toward it, pain shrinks. When you move away from it, pain grows. If you flee from it, pain pursues you like a monster in a dream. If you confront the monster, it goes away” (Stutz & Michels, 2012 pg. 41).
Reversal of Desire doesn’t eliminate pain, but your unwillingness to face. As you use this tool to conquer situations, you will even begin to desire pain, not the pain itself, but your ability to conquer it and move forward. When situations arise where you are facing or thinking about painful situations don’t just rely on these 3 phrases. You have awesome power in Christ Jesus. In her book, Power Thoughts: 12 Strategies to Win the Battle of the Mind, Joyce Meyer describes the first power thought we need to have embedded in our mind is “I can do whatever I need to do in life through Christ”. Through Christ we can conquer fear and pain, those things we need to do that don’t come naturally to us, we have the power to do it because of Jesus and the amazing sacrifice He made for us. Try it, the next time you come across something you’re avoiding, speak the word of God, use the 3 phrases and reverse your desire to run and face it head on.
I know we’ve all heard it “no pain, no gain”.
Questions to Consider
What or where is your promise land?
How is holding on to Egypt keeping you from your promise land?
Let me know how it’s going.
Meyer, Joyce. Power Thoughts. New York: FaithWords, 2010. Print.
Stutz, Phil and Barry Michels. The Tools. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2013. Print.