Jesus Got Me Thinking

I had an interesting moment with Jesus a few days ago and I can’t quit thinking about it. It followed these three related entries I’d posted right in a row on Twitter:

(1) “I don’t care if it sounds like the opportunity of a lifetime, if they say, ‘But we need your answer right now,’ it probably needs to be NO.” (2) “One of the opportunities I most regret taking was a snap decision over the offerer’s insistence on an answer NOW. No time for prayer? Uh, NO.” (3) “Gah. If I can save you the pain in the neck that decision has continued to be to me for a solid 10 years, please let me.”

I meant every word. Still do.  Good grief, it’s been a pain.  A lot of people hopped on board in response to those tweets and my misery found some good company and, in turn, a few good laughs. Man, I love when that happens.

A few hours later while I was on a walk in the woods, a deep and specific conviction of the Holy Spirit welled up in me unexpectedly. It was a conviction of gratitude: the leading of the Holy Spirit for me to, right then and there and henceforth, give no small thanks to God over the very situation that had been such a pain. If I had to wrap English language around a conviction of the Holy Spirit, it would go something like this:

“You really ought to thank Me for that.”

Sometimes the conviction of the Holy Spirit comes so unexpectedly in an area that we are taken aback. I know. I know. You’re wanting to quote me 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I get it. And I know it by heart. But we can read those words, quote those words and believe those words to be absolute truth, absolutely appropriate and even restorative and yet have a treacherously hard time applying them to situations that have nearly perforated our stomach lining. Circumstances get infinitely harder to be grateful within than the one I’m talking about in this article. Still, call me superficial but I can’t say I’ve thrown my back out with cartwheels for a thorn in the flesh that got stuck in my skull from diving headlong into an instant yes. It’s been a gift that just keeps on giving.

But that’s just it. I think God wanted me to stand there in those piney woods and consider what a gift that situation had been to me. Of course, for the sake of humility. Nothing’s wasted if it works humility because nothing will get us into deeper trouble or set us up for a steeper fall than pride. We have no greater obstacle to our divine callings than our egos. But that pain in the neck also offered me a second gift. It taught me a lesson I’m pretty sure I won’t soon forget. It seeded a hyper-phobia of snap decisions made under human pressures. These days I can’t shake the word “no” out of the word “now” to save my life.

Pain is the superglue that makes a lesson stick. That’s nothing new. The most basic one-word synonym for “disciple” is “learner.” Maybe you need to know today what I’ve needed to know so many days: learning, for a follower of Christ, is still a mark of discipleship even if you learned some lessons the hard way.

Or the excruciating way.

Or the embarrassing way.

Or the exasperating way.

Or the explosive, expensive or excessively long way.

If it attached you to the Teacher, if it marked you with Him and caused you at all to imitate Him, that’s the beating heart of discipleship.

Here’s the thing. The lesson wasn’t to try hard to dodge controversy. That’s not character. That’s cowardice. Those early followers of Jesus were nothing if not controversial and not just to the world but also to the religious establishment. The lesson was the idiocy of doing anything like that without taking the time to seek the will of God. It sure seemed like something that would be His will. And the folks needed an answer right then. And goodness knows everybody around me was all excited about it.

“Therefore do not be foolish,” Ephesians 5:17 says, “but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

Because that’s the game changer. If we know – I do mean KNOW – we are doing the will of God, if the step we are taking is – to the best of our prayerful understanding – in obedience to Christ, the fallout falls into His very capable lap. We walk in the shadow of the Almighty wherever Jesus leads us. We may still get hit. We may still be hated. For Christ’s sake, we could lose our earthly lives. Jesus did the will of His Father from first breath to last and was hit, hated and crucified. But He was resolute. He knew nothing He could lose would compare to what He’d gain. What we’d all gain. Nothing could stop Him. No demon. No disciple. No dread of death.

There is a key word in this segment of Matthew 16 that stands out to me on the page every time I read it:

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.

Of course, there’s always somebody close by who will try to talk you out of doing God’s will and with good reasoning and excellent rationale.

22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”


The “learner” part of the disciple Peter might have suffered a few developmental delays but the lesson took. Here’s one way we know. From Acts 4…

17 But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us (rulers, elders, scribes) warn them (Peter and John) to speak no more to anyone in this name.” 18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”

We’re not Jesus. Ours is finite understanding. We can’t always discern the exact will of God in every detail of a drastic decision. We’re not Peter, who, in his own words was an eyewitness of Christ’s majesty and heard “the voice” of “the Majestic Glory.”  (2 Peter 1:16-17) But we are Christ’s followers now, called to pore over the Scriptures, to seek the beautiful face of God and the saving will of God. And, then, to the best of our understanding and with the fullness of our God-given ability, to DO the will of God.

Gravity holds the soles of our feet to a spinning blue globe. Because all authority has been given to Christ, we can exercise the audacity  to “go therefore into all nations.” With the wide waistline of this globe, why would Jesus send us to the same places with the same gifts to do the same things the same way? Part of His perfection is His pure practicality. He calls this one there, that one here, this one to do that, that one to do this. Mind you, audacity out from under authority is lunacy. But Jesus sent the promised Holy Spirit for the purpose of leading us from the inside out. He makes His will known if we’ll seek Him with all our hearts.

I’m going to be straight with you here after thirty years of ministry and a heap of observation. If you make your secret goal to sidestep controversy and to keep everybody liking you and nobody misunderstanding you, you’re going to lock yourself into such a jail cell of stale air that you will suffocate every last breath out of your calling. Your soul was made for more than three square inches of breathing space. If you’re trying to avoid a label, good luck with that. Social media has sentenced us to label hell. And, since there’s not much changing that, this is the one label we Jesus-followers can try to avoid: disobedient.

Whatever your calling is, it takes guts. Jesus didn’t call us to follow Him to the chaise lounge. We’ve got a globe to cover. Not a couch.

If you’re a follower of Christ, you’re here on this planet to do one thing: the will of God in the spread of the gospel. So am I. We must take the time to seek how. Then, with some hint of clarity, we must do it. Come what may. Whatever others say.

And there we’ll find protection in the secret place of the Most High. There we’ll have confidence even should it get brutal or controversial. There we’ll have comfort when it hurts. There we’ll have fellowship, entering into Christ’s own experience until we make it safely into His arms. There we’ll have the pleasure of God. And nothing is like it. A lifetime of man’s approval can’t compare with a single moment of God’s.

So, you see, that was the missing factor in that ten-year pain in the neck. That was the frustration. I forfeited the confidence and comfort and companionship that would have come with knowing I’d followed Jesus – the best I knew how – where He wanted me to go. Those things would have carried me. Given me peace. Been worth any criticism. Every inconvenience. Or the thousandth explanation. I know that because they’ve carried me other times. They’re carrying me now into entirely new territories that would have terrified me before.

And they’ll carry you because they’re bound up in the heart of Jesus and He, Himself, carries us. Let’s be terrified of this: of missing Jesus. Of missing His will. Of putting the soles of our feet on a safe tidy path undisturbed by His valiant footprints.

Anyway, I’ve got a new outlook on that old pain in the neck. Maybe it’s not so bad after all. Maybe God used it to save me from a dozen other missteps. In fact, maybe – God help me – just maybe, for the very first time, I’m the least tad thankful for it.

Be brave out there.











195 Responses to “Jesus Got Me Thinking”

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  1. 51
    Gabrielle Berkowitz says:

    Oh My Lanta Beth! Thank you Lord that I am not the only one. Even in our service to our King, the questions of man come firing at us like a canon! Ugh… Gosh I have learned a lot over the past three years in this arena. Thankful we have a Loving, all wise Father who waits patiently for our obedience even when we think it’s right. I love you sister! We do have a Globe to cover don’t we.

    Serving Him Together,

  2. 52
    Kathy says:

    This is GOOD! Powerful. A word I fully needed to hear. Thank you and may God richly bless you. I have been so blessed by your teaching. Praying for you, Keith and your family.

  3. 53
    Christine Bolin says:

    So good, Beth! I used to be compelled to always say yes. I had such a fear of man that I was afraid if I said no that rejection would soon follow. This fear area was in Church and relationships with friends. The healing work of the Holy Spirit changed me into a woman who can now not only say no but sometimes I even drag out the words “Absolutely Not” just to see the shock on their faces! I started learning to rise up 10 minutes at a time from you, Miss Beth, on Life Today. I learned to look only to Jesus for approval. My yes has to be for His glory not to ward off rejection. They hated Him first. I can count it joy to be in His company.

  4. 54
    June Greenstreet says:

    Oh Beth…this blog entry came by email link and that is where I started reading it. The email version did not say who was blogging – it could have been any one of the multitude of amazing Jesus loving contributors to the blog. But it wasn’t long before your style was obvious and I “knew” it was you… but I just had to connect to the blog to confirm. I simply cannot wait until November when I get to hear you live in “Toronto”. You will simply have no idea this side of eternity of the magnitude of lives your love for Jesus has touched. Using the “ripple effect” analogy…when Jesus uses you to share His truth and love, it is not a “ripple” that goes forth but a tsunami that sweeps us off our feet and washes us up before the Throne – causing us to fall so madly in love with Jesus! Thank you for listening to Jesus!

  5. 55
    Linda Williams says:

    I just love your heart!
    Thank you for sharing this!

  6. 56
  7. 57
    Jackie Houser says:

    Thanks for sharing. This encouragement was like water to my soul!

  8. 58
    Deb says:

    – to the best of our prayerful understanding – in obedience to Christ, the fallout falls into His very capable lap. We walk in the shadow of the Almighty wherever Jesus leads us. We may still get hit. We may still be hated. For Christ’s sake, we could lose our earthly lives. Jesus did the will of His Father from first breath to last and was hit, hated and crucified. But He was resolute. He knew nothing He could lose would compare to what He’d gain. What we’d all gain. Nothing could stop Him. No demon. No disciple. No dread of death.

    Thx for this! Great words of truth! Lose to gain. Did to live. Christ did both for us. We r to do likewise as He leads.

    Yes, as a follower of Christ, I am here on this planet to do one thing: the will of God in the spread of the gospel. So am I. He has me writing a book. Losing to gain….

    Thx for blog. Glad u wrote!

    In Christ,
    Deb Mott

  9. 59
    Deb Mott says:

    Loving Audacious! Thank you for writing it as LED of LORD!!!! Thanking God for you Beth, for your working for God! Just read page 147-148, I laughed out loud!!!! How wonderfully real! How authenticity in U blends with audacity of God’s love and His love transforms, grows, matures… Glad you shared this like you did! A blast of honest fresh air!

    I am that Samaritan woman. Jesus has showed up to tell and show me He is Messiah and how glorious He is. He knows all and wants us to tell much to show He is TRUE LOVE THAT WON!

    It is evident Jesus is in you with you and growing you! Glad you work for and with Him!

  10. 60
    Fran Thomas says:


    I have read this three times and with each time I’m sent thinking about something new. This is such good practical advice and truth. Thank you so very much.


  11. 61
    kathy says:

    Beth, I appreciate your post this morning. Thank you

  12. 62
  13. 63
    Jodi says:

    Thank you! I needed this message, TODAY!

  14. 64
    Anna Glass says:

    I have suffered agonizing pain for so long.Finally diagnosed somatic pain- anxiety.The meds they put me on were addictive. I only took enough to make the pain bareable.But it required more and more and I did not want to go there. My daughter bought me Get Out Of That Pit. I started reading it while I planned my suicide. When I got to chapter six I had already got everything in order for taking my life. As I read the prayers out loud from my heart I thought I would die in that spot. It was like having major surgery awake. I am no longer on the medicine and the pain has greatly subsided. THANK GOD and you

  15. 65
    Susan Miles says:

    Thank you dear friend and teacher. I am learning that to say yes to God is to say yes to the Fruit of the Spirit growing in and out of me. To say no to God, whether from disobedience or neglect, is to say yes to rotten fruit that will take a heart cleaning or several or many to rid of. But like you shared this is not wasted….quickly or slowly it can be a part of what purifies my walk if I’ll let it.
    Thank you for being willing to be a transparent human. This is such a spiritual jungle we live in starting for me with the mind of the flesh.
    But we keep going. And fighting the increasingly good fight as opposed to the stupid one. That you for the reminder and the humility.
    We do have miles to go before we dance in heaven but He is faithful. He has so much left for us….no spiritual menopause!

  16. 66
    Sappy says:

    Thank you for sharing inspiring thoughts and feelings. It is refreshing to read something like this online. Please continue what you are doing.

  17. 67
    Amy Beth says:

    I love this. I have fostered six children now (ages 3, 5, 6, 9, 13 and 17 when they came to me) and have learned some PAINFUL lessons through it. But I am so grateful for each and every lesson because they have taught me. Now, I prefer the times the Lord can teach me in normal, easy to receive ways but I am grateful for the harder lessons, too. I am grateful that He cares about me enough to make sure I “get” it no matter how He has to teach it to me. I am not always His A+ student (many times losing points for talking during class).

    By the way, I sent you a little adoption announcement in the mail to tell you but I have no idea if it made it to you or not. I am now the true, legal, forever mama to two little girls. They call themselves the Gardner girls and Paul and I are just absolutely still in shock that they are really, truly our daughters. I can’t believe I’m a mama! Incidentally, here is how I survived over 500 days of getting them out of the truly messed up legal system:

    “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:13,14

    (Do you remember teaching it? I remember learning it. So glad I was learning it in advance of when I would need it most!)

    • 67.1
      Rebecca says:

      Thank you, and G-d bless you, Amy (& your husband) for your love and ministry with foster children. Congrats on the adoption event, too! Two girls, huh?! They’ll be handfuls at times but the joy they’ll bring will be multiplied by thousands.

  18. 68
    Michele says:

    Mama Beth, this is SO encouraging to Brian and I, right now. Thank you for sharing this…I’m gonna have to read it a few times over.

  19. 69
    Melissa K says:

    This is what I really needed to hear today. Thank you for being the mouthpiece of God to give me direction!
    “A lifetime of man’s approval can’t compare with a single
    moment of God’s.”

  20. 70
    valerie says:

    Oh Beth, being terrified of missing Jesus, of missing His will, is exactly what so often paralyzes me into doing nothing because I’m so afraid that what I’ve heard is my own voice and not His. I’ve worked so hard at NOT being terrified of missing His will, and now that’s exactly where I’m supposed to be? *sigh*

  21. 71
    Joyce Watson says:

    Well, I certainly can relate…for at this particular time in my life, I have taken my first Women’s Sunday School class. I have taught women Bible study and I have been a sub-teacher in another class, as well as taught kids over the years.
    At first it seem a little awkward, but now I am thinking maybe God has a purpose for me teaching. I am praying this is His will. There were two new ladies that joined our class last week. It has nothing to do with what I am doing. Even the compliments from my teaching, has nothing to do with me….it is definely God. He is reaching out to these ladies. It is just God!
    Just keep me in prayer please as I continue this new adventure.

  22. 72
    Tabitha Deller says:

    Praising God for these words that fell like manna from heaven right into my heart. This is something the Holy Spirit is working overtime with me on right now. He is releasing me from the trap of identity crisis… I am His first, I obey His call on my life, not what others think or suggest. Oh, it is a daily surrender, a daily letting go and dying to myself so that I may be resurrected in His good, pleasing, and perfect will. As I have emptied out and allowed His truth to wash over me and transform my thinking, I have been able to say no to certain seemingly great ministry opportunities to be able to say yes to Him because I am finding rest in Him. Knowing Him is my highest call and I will pursue that and not the by products. Where HE leads, I will follow. Thank you for this powerful, timely reminder. It blessed my heart beyond measure. Words sometimes aren’t even adequate! Praise God He allows our thanks to be word (praise) and deed (obedience). Use me, Lord.

  23. 73
    Lora Leftwich says:

    Oh My! How did you know?

    “Whatever your calling is, it takes guts. Jesus didn’t call us to follow Him to the chaise lounge. We’ve got a globe to cover. Not a couch.”

    Oh yeah, I received the calling loud and clear from the Lord many moons ago but the couch is exactly where I’m sitting right now (literally and figuratively) with a little fear and trepidation to get up and get moving.

    Pressure always makes me say NO way, must hear from the Lord… and yet here I sit, having heard from the Lord and knowing my answer is YES, go!

    Thanks for the gentle nudge, ahem… lifting of the sofa and dumping me onto the floor where I needed to be asking for forgiveness for my disobedience.

    Love to all my sisters!!!

  24. 74
    Jeanette Plummer says:

    Jeanette Plummer from Mesquite, TX:

    May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. ~Ephesians 3:19

  25. 75
    Ginger says:

    Charlotte, NC
    “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”
    Proverbs 14:12 (NIV)

  26. 76
    Debi Detroyer says:

    Debi, Emmett MI
    Thank you Beth, I so love your transparency …….. It touched me very much, I’ve found myself too many times thinking I’ve heard from God when it wasn’t him at all. As well as hearing from him and arguing with him as if I know better. Oh how we have to be careful, search the scripture, fervently pray and know that when we do something or say something we should always seek his will. No matter how long it takes. I will remember your analogy on NOW, No is the best answer for that time.
    God bless you and your family.

  27. 77
    Nancy LaVonne says:

    I pray I can have the Audacity to forgive & live forgiven and make my greatest romance Jesus. I pray to have humility and give all Glory to my Saviour Jesus. I pray for the audacity to study the word of GOD so I can give a testimony for what I know to be truth. I pray to live the verse in Romans about my life for eternity as the Bride Of Christ. Thank you JESUS.

  28. 78
    Linda Edwards says:

    The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory.
    Psalms 97:6

  29. 79
    Anne says:

    Anne Chen , Cerritos , CA “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” Revelation 1:3

  30. 80
    marilyn Flaming says:

    Philippians 2:10 NIV
    . . .that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven, and on earth and under the earth.

    Marilyn, Kansas

  31. 81
    MargiebytheSea says:

    When the Holy Spirit speaks to you, He SPEAKS. Your giftedness in using the English language with such force and beauty to teach us what He wants us to know is powerful.
    He uses it all doesn’t He? And, He uses you mightily.
    Thank you, Beth.

  32. 82
    Michelle Odessa TX says:

    For by grace you have been saved through faith. Not by your own doing; it is a gift of God not a result of works , so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

  33. 83
    Mary says:

    Mary, Frisco TX
    John 8:12 (NIV)
    12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

  34. 84
    Shelly says:

    Albertville MN

    Hebrews 12:1 NIV
    Let us throw off everything that hinders & the sin that so
    easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us

  35. 85
    Terri Plumlee says:

    Terri Plumlee, Stamford, Tx
    So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
    Galatians 5:16 NIV

  36. 86
    Kay Martin says:

    Kay Martin
    Tupelo, MS

    “Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.” John 1:3 NIV

  37. 87
    Tammy says:

    Wow….your words touched me so deeply. I too, made that snap decision without consulting God or seeking godly counsel. It took me ten long years of excruciating pain and many, many hours of intense regret for taking things into my own hands. I called it a “mistake” for so long. After all, in the world’s eye’s I did nothing wrong. And it was a decision so many were making at the time. Then about six years ago I was studying Genesis …reading about Eve as she was tempted…and God showed me…I was just like Eve. The spirit of God came on me as I repented of the sin I had been calling a “mistake.” How precious that time alone with God was that morning. My intimacy with my Father was restored….there was nothing between us anymore!! God was so faithful to me during those years of pain and regret. Even though I messed up…He forgave me and walked through it with me. What a mighty God we serve!

  38. 88
    Janet B says:

    Phillipians 2:14, 15

    Do everything without complaining or arguing.

    so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe

  39. 89
    Sharon Bowie says:

    Sharon St. Louis
    “Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.”
    ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:5‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

  40. 90
    Valerie McFarland says:

    Clinton, Me
    “I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power…” ~Daniel 2:23 (NIV)

  41. 91
    Sherry from Perry says:

    Sherry from Perry, Georgia

    “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

    Mark 11:24 ESV

  42. 92
    Kelly Davis says:

    Kelly Davis, Danville Va. Joshua 1:9 (A) NIV

    Have not I commanded you, be strong and very courageous.

  43. 93
    Kim Freeman says:

    Kim Freeman Fort Worth Texas Romans 8:17

    Now, if we are children then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

  44. 94
    Malinda Guider says:

    Malinda Guider, Chattanooga, TN-“Be strong, banish fear and doubt; remember the LORD is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9-TLB

  45. 95
    Tonya says:

    Pineville, LA

    This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 (NIV)

  46. 96
    Maren says:

    “The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
    And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” Psalm 19:1

  47. 97
    Donna says:

    Donna Alsop, Bakersfield, CA
    “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” Colossians 2:8

  48. 98
    Liz Millinor says:

    Liz Millinor
    St Johns, FL

    In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. (‭Romans‬ ‭8‬:‭26‬ NIV)

  49. 99
    Becky Douglas says:

    Becky Douglas, Houston TX

    “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and Love your neighbor as yourself.”

    Luke 10:27 NIV

  50. 100
    Christy Jones says:

    Christy Jones, Summit, MS; “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”
    Proverbs 16:3 NIV

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