Sitting in church on Sunday morning, I was glancing backwards through the notes I had taken. It's funny, because sometimes, I will just jot down an idea, or something that comes to me totally unrelated. I remember last year, as the team was preparing for Encounter, God really spoke to me about fear. It was something I was battling over, trying to fully surrender. Fear is one of those things that so easily creeps in, disturbing your thoughts without you really realizing it. I remember writing down the words He spoke to me one January night last year. Where your biggest fears are also lies the areas of your greatest freedoms. I remember feeling totally awestruck. It made sense. Total sense. But, almost too simple. I think I vaguely remember jotting down a few thoughts about that here... (and let me say, those words totally kicked my tail this morning!)
What I don't remember is writing any other thoughts down. It really was a personal challenge. One I felt strongly about sharing on Sunday and just never stopped to do it.
What areas are you hiding? What areas do you keep locked inside, knowing your secrets are safe within you? Because those areas we hide the deepest within us, those areas we cover up with excuses, those are the areas we are bound to. Forever. The chains are stronger than anything we can carry, much more, break out of. Guilt. Poor choices. Shame. Regret. Fear. Disappointment. Frustration. Lack of trust. Doubt. Maybe just one area. Maybe all of them. You know what these are? These are the areas Satan wants to use for your defeat. Yes, he wants to use your own emotions, your mind, your heart to defeat yourself.
I am my own worst enemy. Instead of speaking life over myself, I often speak discouragement. Defeat. Doom and gloom. Why? I don't know. It is so easy to just know I can't do it. Remind myself I am not capable. Knowing that I will fail is easier than having the hope that I can do it. It isn't right. It is something I go through seasons of overcoming, and letting it slowly slip back in. It is something I choose to hide, because not hoping is not something I want to become used to. I don't really want to admit it. So, instead, I trudge along, carefully, in the pit of hopelessness. It's dark. It's lonely. And I'm tired of it.
After finding freedom filled words Sunday, I opened my devotion up yesterday. And wow. Straight to my heart. Hope filled words. It's how I know that the connection to my Savior is far more vital to my existence than oxygen. Seriously.
I was reading in the YouVersion devotion series Good News of Great Joy by John Piper. While I won't copy the entire day (God's Most Successful Setback), I will share a few key highlights. The devotion is centered around the birth of Christ, and all of the pieces that fell into place for Christmas to happen. I mean, miracle of miracles. But, it encourages you to really think about it. It is hard to do. It doesn't make sense. Anyway, this devotion talks about Joseph and Jesus, and their similarities. They both suffered tremendous adversities. And yet, overcame. "The way to success is through divinely appointed setbacks. They will always look and feel like failure."
Failure. The way I have been feeling for months. It is mostly all just me not hitting the goals I really believed were going to happen this year, but the word failure resounds in my heart. Deep. Chained up. Not ready to believe anything else. Until yesterday. When I started thinking about defeat. Failure. What defines defeat and failure? Man. Those at work. Those around you. But for me, it is me. I define myself often as defeated. I feel like I have failed so many times, at so many different things. And yet, this word piercing my heart specifically says success is going to feel just like failure. Divinely appointed setbacks. How many times do I get to fail something before I throw in the towel, determine myself as a failure?
This is what hit me: Jesus, walking down the streets. Condemnation written across faces. People spitting on him. Throwing things at him. Being called an impostor, a fraud. Definitely not the Messiah we'd all been waiting for. The crowd slinging insults, unbelief in their voices. A cross being drug behind him. What were the thoughts going through Jesus' mind? Was he wishing he could've done his job differently? Possibly thinking he had been given one task, and that he failed at it? Knowing he had come to fulfill prophesy, performing miracles, bringing the earth His goodness and peace. I wonder if He was weighing the cost. Determining if the price He was paying was really going to be worth it. He was a man. Did He know the millions of people He was dying for would eventually come to know He really was the Savior, or did he walk those streets defeated?
Jesus was without fault. No question. But did He feel as though maybe His mission wasn't as victorious as He had imagined it would be? Do you think He knew beforehand the pain and heartbreak He was going to experience?
The world's biggest setback right there. That cross. Also the world's biggest success. Be careful how you view your situation. Being human, we can't see how it will end. All we know is that a divinely appointed setback saved our lives. Walk this day out knowing that. Our situation may feel like a failure. A setback. But tomorrow, we may realize the cost was so incredibly worth it.