Walking with God in tough times is an ongoing process that requires humility, surrender of self, a desire beyond self interests, obedience, and a faith that continues to believe. But how do we develop and nurture these characteristics when our life was previously built on the opposite? We don’t. Trying to master these in our own power is an exercise in futility. That’s why Jesus sent his own Holy Spirit to dwell within us to accomplish in and through us what was impossible alone.
It starts with humility because its opposite, pride, is our fiercest foe. Pride thinks all the time about satisfying ‘my’ desires, comforts, and ambitions. Pride redraws the universe to revolve around ‘me.’ It’s insatiable appetite is never fulfilled. Whatever it has, it wants more. Humility finds calmness of heart and peace in the storm. It says, “It’s not about me. There’s something much bigger than me. I’ve learned to be content.” Personally, I am never more humbled when I think of God’s greatness and especially his mercy and love. It’s humbling to recognize that he chose us before the foundations of the earth were laid. Looking at the vastness of God’s creation brings me to bow in humility. Humility grows when we recognize the depth of our sin, how we deserve nothing, yet find God giving us all good things instead. A humble heart learns to say, “I was wrong. I’m sorry.” On the scale from humility to pride, where would you place yourself? Remember, only the Holy Spirit can bring you closer.
Humility leads us to repent. Repentance is surrendering and turning away from sin and the failures of our own limited efforts. More than that, repentance counts everything as loss that we once considered gain. God may or may not call you to leave your treasures, a secure job, or a bank account to serve him. But he will call you away from striving after them as your deepest desire. His Spirit brings us to joyfully turn away from these pursuits so we can pursue something far greater. Repentance turns away from the old self – no looking back. Do you find your old self more in your rear view mirror or in your windshield?
Repentance not only brings us forgiveness but the grace to see beyond ourselves. Just as a self-directed life focuses primarily on us, the Spirit- led life brings us to increasingly look at others through the eyes of Jesus. Can you admit to sometimes seeing people as interruptions or maybe not really seeing them at all? Jesus changes that. We’re all tempted to look at people, savings, possessions, and time as if they belong for our comfort. Jesus shows us that he owns it all. Scripture reminds us that even our bodies are not our own. They were purchased with a price! What we surrender comes to seem very small compared to the opportunity to participate in his master plan of redemption and restoration. Ask God this question each day, especially when you confront people you regard as difficult: “God help me to see others through YOUR eyes.”
Seeing our lives and others through God’s perspective leads the spirit-led life to obedience. Obedience is the test of love. If we catch ourselves persistently envying a better lifestyle, a certain look, or other things if the world, we’re not loving God. If we constantly steal time from our spouse and children or our friends in need so we can pursue our own interests, we’re not loving God. If we persist in anger, bitterness, judging others, self pity, anxiety, or fear, we aren’t living in obedience to the one who calls us to freedom. Obedience is listening to the voice of God and doing what he says right then. Sadly, I can remember too many times he prompted me to pray WITH someone, not just for them later, but I chickened out; how many times I had opportunity to comfort and encourage others who were sick and lonely but instead stayed away. What is God calling you to do differently? You may feel you’ve given the steering wheel of your life to God, but have you taken your foot off the accelerator and brake? Trust God to lead you in complete obedience even if it’s out of your comfort zone.
Finally, the obedient heart learns to keep believing. Believing God over our emotions and feelings allows us to remain content in him. It believes that Christ-in-us is a reality that changes everything, that it’s Jesus who makes us complete, not anyone or anything else. When we keep on believing, we start to look for God to show up in our daily life. Our former pursuits grow gradually more dim as we come to be more satisfied being in his presence.
Though I graduated from crawling to walking as a toddler, it seems learning to walk in cooperation with the Spirit of God is a lifetime pursuit. Thanks for sharing the path with me as we walk together.