4 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2
“One final word, friends. We ask you—urge is more like it—that you keep on doing what we told you to do to please God, not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living, spirited dance.”
It is interesting to hear the stories of where people come from. I often will look at someone and just wonder where they have been, seen, felt, and endured in the past. What their lives looked like before Christ, before they were mature in their faith, in times they were scared or in a trial. This is especially true with people I admire. Powerful pastors, leaders, writers, artists, entrepreneurs, athletes, and friends. This interest was reignited recently when I was listening to a local pastor dip his toes into a bit of his testimony. Even the very little bit of raw insight he opened up with, was powerful, not only to how I saw him but to the overall message of his sermon.
After the end of the message I kept thinking through my head, what does my story sound like? What is my testimony? Many people seemed to have a pivotal moment when they decided to give their lives to Christ, but my life did not look like that. Did that make my story less impactful? I didn’t know, I had never thought about MY testimony, MY story, I cast it off as without significance, but is that really true? Could my life story significantly impact someone else’s? Every story has the ability to impact when the Holy Spirit has intervened. That was one thing I knew was absolutely true, God showed up for me time and time again. And His holy spirit was undeniable to me. I knew it was time to start hashing out my story. Now don’t get your hopes up, I am not sharing my testimony in this post (That will come soon!), but I am going to discuss 4 important things about living your life as a “Spirited Dance” rather than a “Religious Plod”, something I think goes hand in hand with Acknowledging the work the Lord has done in our lives so that not only we truly swallow what this means, but so that when were asked (and we WILL be asked) we are ready to share the relevance of the Gospel in EVERYONE’s lives. This relevance we can confirm through our stories, no matter what form they take.
These methods I am about to share are more about authenticity than they are about action steps. But really, what better action step is there than becoming authentic in your faith? So here are the four ways you can Shake off that Religious Plod.
- Encountering Your Past
Now this is not a prompt to “Contact your ex-boyfriend or hash out broken relationships from 10 years ago” type of prompt my friends. I simply mean that you should thoughtfully and prayerfully considering all you have been through to get you to your “Now”. Pray and ask God to highlight things in your past that have had significance. Capture your favorite memories and hardships, and write them down.
Why is this good to do? To keep you moving forward. The past has significance. Not to remain in the past but to use it as a catapult to learn from and blossom from. We all have roots, regardless of where they were planted, God intended them for good. This practice left me feeling overwhelmed with gratitude to God for transforming my life. Not in an instant, but still radically significant.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
- Honoring Your Present
Those who know me will giggle that this is Number two on this list. I have a deep struggle with the “Now”. It is never as fast or slow as I want it to be. I am never where I think I should be, doing what I think I should be doing, and I always feel behind. But something that I have been really trying to overcome is the Sin of not being grateful for where the Lord has planted me. I often giggle with my best friend that I feel like the Israelites wondering around in the wilderness when they were right next door to the Promise Land. She knows that I use humor to cover up the pain that I actually feel about this reference. I am constantly worrying if I am missing the mark, and if I am TRULY living in the purpose God has called me to. I analyze my life until there is no more joy to be had. Every essence of me is exhausted by worry. If this is something that you struggle with, I pray that you can break through this distractive mind and heart set with me! I have been working diligently on this with God (praying, reading books, and most importantly God’s word EVERYDAY) and I ALREADY feel so much lighter from the weight of the unknown. You, sweet friend, can feel this too when you surrender your hurt and be REAL with God. Tell Him where you’re at RIGHT NOW.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
You don’t need to be overly religious in your conversations with God (Always highly respectful) but He wants you to commune with Him! I cannot tell you how many times through out my weeks and days that I just chat with God. “Okay God, what the heck is happing in this situation right now?” or “Haha God I see where you’re going with this” or my current necessary prayer, “Lord, bring me to the end of myself right here and NOW.” “Blooming Where you are planted” is a cliche encouragement, but it is increasingly relevant in our walks with the Lord!
And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.
- Remove Insecurity
Whoa. The event just writing this down made me a little uncomfortable. But the reality is, Insecurity steals Joy, Boldness, Faith, Life, Purpose and brings only death and distraction. Sounds all too familiar doesn’t it?
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.
This is a big area of struggle for me for many years. But thanks to the Lord, I have been able to overcome it. My wounds are still a little tender I will admit, and there are areas that this weakness has effected that I still need to address, but God met me in an intimate place in my life that I thought He could never touch. I kept it hidden because I CHOSE to not believe it would ever change. I believed the enemy, rather than the truth of God’s Loving Word!
I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly”
I treasure that these two sentences are side by side in scripture. God gives us the antidote to the paralysis that the enemy hopes to create within us! Where do you have a struggle in your life that you believe will never change? Come on girl, lets be real right now. I was not able to make any headway on my self-image until I let down my wall, peeled away how I saw myself, laid it all at the feet of God, and Prayed for him to forgive me for listening to the enemy. I prayed that He would search my heart, remove the lies, and awaken me to MOVE in His might and in the purpose He designed me for. You catch that? Insecurity steals purpose and living it out vibrantly! Don’t we all WANT a vibrant and purpose-filled life that positively affects others!? So as soon as that creep (yes I call the enemy a Creep!) starts to infiltrate… you SHOUT OUT John 10:10 if you have to! People will think you’re crazy, but OH WELL! You remind the enemy that you know exactly who he is and what he is doing. But most importantly You remind that Devil WHO YOUR GOD IS AND WHAT HE IS DOING, and he will have no choice but get the heck outta Nashville. (Or in my case, Oahu haha)
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
This is the moment we all were created for. Do you believe that? Right now right where you are God has manifested. On top of that, God is OMNIPRESENT! He is with us, within us, and alive in His word. Our God is intimately intertwined in the smallest of moments in our lives! The mundane is not so when you realize that God always shows up!
“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”
Acknowledging that God’s word is alive is vital to our walk. For the longest time in my walk, I chose to skim, to read words, and not take to heart the breath of life within each passage. (Yes, even the sections of 50 names of descendants is alive with the power of God!) I had to recall when I first experienced being on fire for God. I was 13 and I was a girl on a mission. I would hunker down in my room, open my bible and marvel at His word, excitedly jotting down every scripture that resonated with me. With that intensity and excitement about God’s word, every scripture jumped out at me. That enjoyment and fulfillment of reading His word is when God gave me the vision of my calling to be a full-time Missionary one day. Clear as day, I would not just go on missions. I would live with a mission as a FULL-TIME missionary. I want to be back in that place! That childlike wonder that Christ loves so much opens the doors for us to embrace the Word of God and allow it to penetrate into an event the thickest of heads! When my mind gets muddy, I remember the crystallized visions and passion I had in those times I genuinely LOVED God’s word.
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
You catch that? If we do not get this Child like wonder back, we WILL miss out on the Promise Land. We will be frantically stuck in the “Religious Plod” of trying to earn our way to heaven. We SHOULD know that salvation is NOT going through the motions, its acquired through a faith-filled surrender. Spiritual Maturity stems from that surrendered heart space, and marries righteous diligence in fulfilling the Law of The Lord, which primarily is to LOVE and LOVE HARD!
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.”
Indeed, it is time to Hunt. We are to hunt after God’s word, His presence, His will, His Holy Spirit. We are to seek out those who need His salvation, who need HOPE. We do this through sharing OUR stories of salvation! We are to hunt after new eyes that see and new ears that hear. Friends, we are warriors in this life. We have the battle to fight. Until we regain the wonder back into our walks with The Lord and an awe at the Word He has left for us, we are stuck wondering in the wilderness.
But sisters! If we Seek Him we WILL find HIM! Can you believe that!? He knows our hearts and if we want to know Him, then He WILL give us the desires of our hearts! Share your story and others will not be able to deny the delight you have in The Lord!
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
So lets dance! And praise that we have a God that is a LOVING GOD, who wants us to WANT Him! He always shows up when we need Him. He has the power to move mountains, raise the dead, and transform lives of the lost.
Believe this, live this, and you will have no choice but to dance!
Have Grit Sweet Ones,