I’m in the process of being completely humbled by the Lord. If you’ve ever experienced this kind of leveling, you know the holy sorrow you feel when you come face to face with your flaws and ugliness.
Being humbled isn’t new to me. As a recovering addict, I’ve had numerous times of lying flat on my face in regret. But this humbling isn’t associated with destructive choices; it’s about being humbled in ministry. I’m not sure which one is harder.
When I started writing about my recovery, I was in a space of complete love and joy. I’d had an encounter with Jesus and his love miraculously healed from a 20 year eating disorder. I was delivered from decades of bondage, and I wanted my brothers and sisters who were discouraged, depressed, and hopelessly trapped to know that God isn’t done with his miracles. He wanted to heal them, too.
And then God brought a writing opportunity to me. I had nothing to do with orchestrating this project. It wasn’t an idea of mine; it was purely from the Lord. And I was humbled by it. Three weeks after I turned in my pieces to the editor, my mom was diagnosed with brain cancer and God continued to do his miracles in me. This time the miracle was the healing of my relationship with my mom. The Lord broke me and delivered me from deep, hidden resentment, and he walked with me and my family as we cared for her and ushered her to Heaven in January. Again, God inspired me to write about his grace and what it meant to follow him and trust him in the midst of the worst loss of my life. His grace and wisdom filled me, and I felt his powerful love and truth flowing through me as I ministered through my blog and other writings. I was wide open in vulnerability to serving the Lord.
But then something happened. With no warning sign, in the middle of the fullest time of ministry and writing, God slammed the door of my inspiration. In an instant, it was gone. One day it was a full throttle fire hydrant, the next day it wasn’t even a drizzle. The switch was turned off.
Why, Lord? Why would you block me from writing about you?
The questions turned to hurt, and I felt abandoned by God. Old thoughts of doubt and insecurity started to creep in, and I went into a period of questioning my ability to read God’s will. I wondered if anything I’d done was from him. Then I heard about a writing opportunity for someone I love dearly, and along with being happy for this person, I felt something even greater. I felt jealous. This feeling shocked and disgusted me, and I called my dearest friend and confessed it to her.What a twisted flesh I have. Here I want to serve the Lord with all my heart, but then I feel jealous by someone else’s ministry. Yuck. Yuck. Double yuck. My jealously showed me how far off track I’d gone without even realizing it. I prayed and asked God to forgive me for such ugliness.
I continued to pursue the Lord with my questions, and I believe he’s shown me what happened. Even though my heart was in the right place, my focus turned from the Lord to the work He wanted me to do. It might seem like I’m mincing puree here, but I assure you there’s a huge chasm between focusing on the work of the Lord and focusing on Him.
If I’d kept my eyes on the Lord, when the inspiration dried up, I would have simply waited for the next move. I wouldn’t have doubted his love. But that’s not what happened. I panicked. I felt abandoned. I felt hurt and insecure, which led me to feel jealous. My response shows me what my heart was holding on to. I was head-down focused on the work, the people, and the healing. All good things, right? Yes. But they are not the Lord. And in his wisdom, he knew I needed to experience this wilderness of feeling abandoned so I could see his truth: To serve God, I must not have anything above him. Not even ministry. He knows it will always lead to idolatry.
When something doesn’t go the way we planned, or we don’t feel the way we thought His will would feel, we come face to face with our hidden expectations of our life with Him. God might lead us away from a good thing, even a holy thing, such as ministry, a job, or relationship. He might move us into a place where it’s painful and lonely. But if we stop struggling and wait in faith, we will find Him.
Maybe it’s not time for that good thing to happen yet. Maybe it will never happen. The question we need to answer is: will God alone be enough? If the answer isn’t a resounding YES, then our hearts have strayed; we’ve put something above him.
Lord, help us to keep our focus on you alone. Train us to welcome the change of directions according to your will. Comfort our hearts as we grieve the losses of expectations, big and small, so we can move when you move, never questioning your love and commitment to us. May our joy be renewed over being found by you….and may our fulfillment be in you alone.
” It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery.” Galations 5:1