The Most Powerful Lesson I’ve Learned This Year (Maybe This Decade)
Those of you who’ve been following this ministry know that The Steward’s Journey is all about freedom. For the last five years we have written, taught, preached and guided people through a process of being set free. We believe freedom is among the greatest gifts that flow from the life in Christ.
Yet for all of this focus on freedom, I have recently come to recognize one area of my life where I remained in a bondage, a bondage that has been tearing me apart. I’m wondering if this bondage may not be a part of your story as well? Let me explain.
You may have noticed I have not blogged for the last several weeks. I’ve been laboring under the cumulative weight of six months of struggle in a number of areas of my life that, collectively, have pressed me to the point of discouragement and even despair. Honestly, I’ve had nothing to write about that I felt could have any use to anyone else. I needed healing myself. I prayed a variety of prayers until I just stopped praying. I read Scripture but my spirit had no capacity to let anything sink in. No matter where I looked or what I did, freedom eluded me and I was left in a bondage I did not understand, and a God who seemed not to care.
The source of my despair flowed from several issues in my life that made absolutely no sense. There was no logical reason or possible explanation for why I was enduring them. My prayers went unanswered and God seemed more distant than at any time in my life. I just kept asking the questions of ‘why?’ ‘what is this for?’ and ‘where are you?’
Last weekend, my eyes were opened to the core of my pain, and I was given a wonderful gift of a process to heal through it. It has been a spiritual emancipation of significant proportion for me. I am excited to share it with you today. I pray it may bring freedom for you as well.
It began with my realization that, in those difficult moments, I was offering God a quid pro quo that went like this: “help me to understand why all this is happening and I will trust you with it.” Did you hear it? I was willing to exchange trust in God for his revelation of his purposes as to why things were happening to me. I assured God that I trusted Him, but didn’t He owe me some sense of explanation? Some vision for how this was all going to turn out for my good? Was that too much to ask?
I’ve come to realize that this brand of trust is really no trust at all. It is trust with terms. It is a fickle form of faith. Knowing this, however, was not enough. I needed to know what to do about it. And that is where I received a wonderful gift from John Eldridge at a weekend retreat in Colorado Springs. John gave me a tool that has become an invaluable gift to me. He challenged me to go into the very center of my discouragement, to stand in the core of each issue that was putting me in bondage and beating me down. And there, right in the center, experiencing all of the feelings I had been trying to bear for the last several months, right there in their midst, to claim my deep and profound love for Jesus and His love for me.
It was hard, but, one by one, in each situation, I prayed my love for Jesus and his for me in the very core of my deep discouragement. Of course, you know what happened. The love of God in a miraculous (and I don’t use that word lightly) way overflowed, took over, and literally washed out of my spirit the burdens I’d been carrying. The issues were not resolved, and I received not one ounce of vision for why anything was happening to me. But in some Spirit-filled, wonderful way, it really didn’t matter anymore. What was restored in me was a passion to heal my union with Christ. My attention refocused on knowing Christ in a deeper way, acknowledging his love for me, and asking that our relationship grow deeper and richer to the greatest extent He has for me.
I no longer wanted Jesus to resolve my problems. I no longer wanted Jesus to give me clarity and understanding. I no longer wanted Jesus to explain himself.
I just wanted Jesus.
So, here’s my big takeaway, what I want you to hear and what I pray will heal your spirit; If we let Him, Jesus will set us free from the need to understand in order to love and trust. My friends, this is a profound freedom!
I’ve never realized how many years, probably decades of my life, I’ve carried the bondage of needing to know in order to trust, how many times I’ve prayed to God making a deal to trade trust for understanding, and how thin my faith was that it could be undermined by the work of God in me for which He just chose not to explain himself.
Can you relate? Where are you trusting God only if He shows you why He’s doing what He’s doing? Where are you trusting God only if you can understand his way? Where is your trust provisional? I encourage you to name one issue today that is discouraging you, name one chain you’re bearing that is weighing you down. Now stand in the midst of it, feel the fullness of its weight, and right there, without moving, proclaim your love for Jesus and his love for you. Let it flow over you. Love Him in the midst of it all and let Him love you there. Then pray that He set you free from the need to understand and empower you to refocus all of your spirit on healing your union with him and letting that be enough. I promise you, it is more than enough, much, much more. In fact, the healing of your union with Christ and the restoration of your soul is the very life breath of the follower of Jesus.
I’ve been given the precious gift of breathing it in deeply. How about you?