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He is not here… He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you… Matt 28:6-7
We all make decisions and take initiatives to live. There are times when those paths feel like God is walking right with us and other times with it feels like we’re just reacting to barely survive. It’s always hard to reconcile a failure in our walk with God. We wonder why our Father didn’t tell us or protect us or warn us. Another perspective is that we are walking through some kind of wilderness where God is testing us and withholding His presence.
God never really leaves or forsakes us. His presence is always with us. We really can abide in Him continually. That being said, there are some dramatic changes in the seasons of our relationship. When we first get saved, the Holy Spirit and pastoral types surround us like a child and tell us what to do… because we don’t have a clue.
Courage – As we mature spiritually there is gradual shift to this simple reality, “God won’t make your decisions for you.” He will talk to us about them. He’ll give us wisdom if we ask. But, the simple fact is that the initiatives that come out of wisdom feel much different than simple obedience. We have to own them. Frankly, that can be a bit scary and unnerving. There are times when the right decision feels just as anxious as the wrong one. And the second simple fact is that not every decision we make ends in success…. And God is just fine with that!
We have no examples of a stress-free life from Godly heroes in the Bible. “Success” can be promotion and wealth, but it can also be suffering and death. John the Baptist, Paul, and Peter all followed Jesus and heroes in the Kingdom in the Kingdom, yet their “successful” lives ended in prison and execution. You can bet they “wondered.” Jesus asked his Father, “Why have you forsaken me?” John sent his disciples to Jesus to ask if he was the one. We go through things that make us wonder, as well.
Where is God? – Real success in the Kingdom is simply this: Are we aligned with the things that God put in our hearts? Did we achieve the destiny God wrote in our book? Success has everything to do with being aligned with our own hearts and our Kingdom purpose. The sweet spot is finding that the desires that God wrote in my heart are also in His heart. The real message in the resurrection of the one who went before is that we are not just dying to self, we are dying to become ourselves. David had many ups and downs in his life… many successes… many failures. But His legacy is that he was a man after God’s heart.
your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Ps 139:16 NIV
God is going before us! – When our decisions and initiatives are rooted in Kingdom purpose, the lights come on. Our job is to achieve that purpose. If it’s hard or stressful or delayed, it doesn’t change a thing. It’s not about us. There is a much bigger Kingdom perspective. We’ve been invited to play a role, take some land, experience some warfare and share in some great victories. If we can live our lives in the context of putting the Kingdom first and working on our book, it’s all fun again… even when it’s not… because our Father is with us every step of the way. When it seems like He’s not here, He’s really going before us. That’s where we always find Him. When we make wise decisions that pursue purpose, God is always waiting for us when we get there. Lesson learned: “don’t look back, look ahead.”
“Be strong and courageous… The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deut 31:7-8 NIV
The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Ex 33:14 NIV
By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. Ex 13:21-22 NIV
I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. 3 I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. Isa 45:2-3 NIV