May 6, 2016

Go Far

Written by Remaliah Evans

As women our plates tend to stay full and then we begin living on our own strength, and nearly completely independent from God. How do we know when we are operating in our own strength or in faith? Listen to what you are saying and pay attention to what you are thinking. A telltale sign is if you are constantly saying or thinking, “I’m tired”. Now you may be legitimately tired. The question is why are you tired? Are you tired because you are working long hours and loosing sleep? Or do you feel drained no matter how much sleep or rest you seem to get?

I can work long hours for a period of time, however it is not healthy to work long hours and remain sleep deprived on an extended basis. For several years I kept two jobs and eventually I felt the Lord telling me to quit the second job. I did not quit my second job because I wanted the extra disposable income. One day I fell asleep while driving and I crashed into a road sign. Fortunately no one was hurt except my little Corolla.

The Lord told me to quit my second job because He knew I was not sleeping enough, and because quitting my job would require me to develop the discipline to budget and also trust Him to provide. Disclaimer: I am not advising you quit your job. In my case I knew that God was telling me quit my second job and I was disobedient. Having a second job was me operating out of my own strength because one, I did not ask God if should take a second job, and two I never went to God and asked Him to help me financially.

It is not a far-fetched idea that God would provide for us. He provided for Jacob, Esther, Joseph, Daniel, Moses and the widow who nearly lost her sons. Many times we operate out of our own strength because we do not believe that God will help us in certain areas of lives. But God is a good Father and like a good father He is concerned with every area of our lives.

Yes, I was legitimately tired because I was working two jobs, however when I quit my second job I had time to sleep and I was no longer tired. I am a recovering workaholic and I enjoy working because it is easier to work and accomplish work goals, than it is to deal with problems, character flaws, and develop meaningful relationships. When I work excessively, I am operating out of my own strength. The Lord says to work as if I am working unto Him.  There are times when God will instruct us to do works that require immense time and energy, however when we are acting in obedience to Him, and when we are fully submitted to what He asks us to do, I find that there is a grace to do the work.

I have been blessed to help organize a few large events. Over four to six months, this involves a myriad of emails, meetings, follow up calls, trainings, creating forms, and dealing with a slew of vendors. While there are definitely a few late nights, for the most part I do not realize how tired I am until after the event. Typically the day after the event I crash and I am in wonder at all that God allowed the team to accomplish. After one or two days of rest following the event, I am refreshed and fully recovered.

This is not adrenaline, it is the grace of God that rests upon us when we are obedient. When we are obedient and seek Him first, He is faithful to strengthen us. The word says seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to us. The kingdom of God is the rule and the reign of God, and righteousness is to be in right relationship with God. So when I seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness I am saying,” Lord, first I seek You so that You so that You will rule and reign in my heart and in my life, I am submitted to You. Above all else, I want to be in right relationship with You.”  

            When we do this, then all these things will be added to us. In reading Matthew 6:31-33 we find that the “things” referred to are food, water, and clothing, in other words necessities. God’s strength and grace are also necessities because we are called to do life WITH Him.

Another sign that we are operating out of our own strength is when we continuously say or think “I can’t do this.” When we say we cannot do something we are likely operating out of own strength because we are relying solely on ourselves. First, we must believe His promises that the steps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord, and that Lord leads us along the path that is best for our life. Thus, wherever the Lord leads us is ultimately beneficial. Second, regardless of what it feels like, God’s intentions for us are always good. He does not set us up for failure and wait for our demise.

To rely on God we need faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. The word says that we can do all things though Christ who strengthens us. We must change our thought patterns and speech. Whenever we hear ourselves say or think “I can’t do this” we can immediately say out loud, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

I hate public speaking; it is scary and nerve wracking. I become nervous and speak extremely fast, there are awkward pauses, and even more awkward endings. I am on a team that shares a brief word of encouragement with my church about once per month. Every single time I tell myself I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. As I tell myself this, I realize that I am not alone and that He is here to help me. It also reminds me that it is not about me, it is about what He wants to communicate through me. My motivation shifts from simply wanting to be a good public speaker; my mindset shifts from performance to believing that God will use me to bring encouragement and hope as I share His word. It is not magic. I did not declare, “I can do all things thought Christ who strengthens me” and poof! I was suddenly a prolific public speaker. However over the past two years I have grown slightly more comfortable with public speaking and I am improving as my confidence remains in Him and I ask Him to give me the words to speak.

If we believe His word then we will speak, pray, and declare His word over our lives. Even when life does not work out the way we want, when we declare and believe His word, we are operating in faith and we learn to focus on Him, and not our problems or disappointments. We learn to trust Him and His love for us despite tragedy and opposition. We learn to walk in faith and walk in His strength because trying to do it on our own strength is maddening.

The most difficult season was when a close family member passed away. The death was sudden and I was livid, confused, bitter, and for the first time I felt like life just stopped for a while. After years of hoarding my emotions, suddenly my emotions would no longer go ignored. And for many months following the passing I had to keep choosing to seek God for His strength and direction. I went to God with my unforgiveness, rage, bitterness, and questions because I knew that there was no way that I could make it through such loss without Him. It was either go to Him for His strength, or be devoured by bitterness and sorrow. During that time I had faith in His promise that He would perfect that which concerns me…. and He did.

Faith without works is dead. I had faith in God to heal me and walk me through the grieving process. The works were to not stress out, and to go to Him whenever I felt overwhelmed or burdened. The works were to keep praying and believing that God would bring healing and understanding.

We walk in faith one decision, one step, and one moment at a time. And as we see God’s faithfulness, faith becomes a way of life because we discover that His word is true and that He is trustworthy. We walk in faith when we walk in agreement with Him and His word. When we walk with Him, we will always go far.

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