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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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195 Responses to “Jesus Got Me Thinking”

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Comments:

  1. 101
    Fran Hunsucker says:

    “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
    Matthew 11:28

  2. 102
    Linda Trammell says:

    Conyers, GA
    Psalm 103:11-12 KJV “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
    As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”

  3. 103
    Debbie says:

    Debbie, Huntsville, AL Psalms 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

  4. 104
    BRENDA says:

    Brenda,

    Lindon, Utah

    Romans 11:6 And if by GRACE, then it cannot be based on works; if

    it were, GRACE would no longer be GRACE.

  5. 105
    Malorie Elrod says:

    Malorie Elrod, Sharpsburg Ga- 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 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. (‭Romans‬ ‭8‬:‭14-17‬ NIV)

  6. 106
    Nell Brinkley says:

    Nell Brinkley. Chattanooga tn. Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal , flowing from the throne of God and of the lamb. Revelation 22;1. Esv

  7. 107
    Jane Lakey says:

    Jane Lakey, Panama City Fl

    Colossians 1:13-14, NIV

    For He Has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

  8. 108
    Rita Koch says:

    riTa
    Upland, IN

    Romans 6:19 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

    19 I am using a human analogy because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you offered the parts of yourselves as slaves to moral impurity, and to greater and greater lawlessness, so now offer them as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification.

    Romanos 6:19 Reina Valera Contemporánea (RVC)

    19 Hablo en términos humanos, por la debilidad de su naturaleza humana. Así como para practicar la iniquidad presentaron sus miembros para servir a la impureza y la maldad, ahora, para practicar la santidad, presenten sus miembros para servir a la justicia.

  9. 109
    Joy Mast says:

    Joy Mast
    Matthews, NC

    Prov 29:11 “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.”

  10. 110
    Kim Tate says:

    Corydon, IN
    Ps. 116:7 NIV
    Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.

  11. 111
    Cathy says:

    Cathy, Russellville, AR

    The heart is deceitful above all things,and desperately sick;
    who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV)

  12. 112
    Janice Wyatt, Jena, La. says:

    And now these three remain; faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. I Cor. 13:13 NIV

  13. 113
    Ann Hanna says:

    Ann, SC

    I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.
    Gal 2:20 NIV

  14. 114
    Donna Lange says:

    Donna Lange, Mobile, Alabama

    12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

    Colossians 1:12(KJV)

  15. 115
    Lori Goodwin says:

    Lori, Edenton, NC

    Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts.
    Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

    Ps 139: 23-24, NLT

  16. 116
    Danielle Musselman says:

    “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”
    ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭56:3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

  17. 117
    Christy says:

    And when they prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the Word of God with boldness. Acts 4:31 (NKJV)

  18. 118
    Tracy Fahs says:

    Tracy
    Lake St. Louis, Missouri

    “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart”

    1 Kings 8:23 ESV

  19. 119
    Justine Crawford says:

    Justine Crawford – Las Vegas, NV

    Jeremiah 33:3
    Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great unsearchable things you do not know. (NIV)

  20. 120
    Steph O says:

    Stephanie O., Alexandria, VA “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” I Peter 5:8 NLT

  21. 121
    Geri Patterson says:

    Geri, Deer Park, TX

    Colossians 2:5 ESV
    For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.

  22. 122
    Carolyn Webb says:

    Carolyn Webb, Grand Prairie, Texas. … in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:4 NIV

  23. 123
    Elaine Puckett says:

    Elaine – Powder Springs, GA ~ Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
    Psalm 34:19

  24. 124
    Kim Bignon says:

    Kim Bignon, Orlando, FL
    “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting
    was shaken. And they were all filled with the
    Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
    Acts 4:31 (NIV)

  25. 125
    Cindy-Richmond, Texas says:

    Cindy-RichmondTx-Psalm 37:4 (NIV) Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

  26. 126
    Sunni Sutphin says:

    Sunni Sutphin Mt Airy NC Jer.33.3 NIV ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’

  27. 127
    Rachael says:

    Rachael Heard San Antonio, TX “I keep my eyes always on the Lord . With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” – Psalms 16:8 NIV

  28. 128
    Stacie Kilgore says:

    Stacie Kilgore, Lee’s Summit, MO
    For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. (KJV)

  29. 129
    Stacey Edmonson says:

    Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15 NIV

  30. 130
    Stacey Edmonson says:

    Philippians 4:7 NIV

    And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

  31. 131
    Suzy Lipinski says:

    Suzy from Cedar Falls, IA

    “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
    ‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:4‬ ‭NIV

  32. 132
    Pat Rickman says:

    Pat Rickman, Escondido, CA

    God—He clothes me with strength
    and makes my way perfect. Psalms 18:32 HCSB

  33. 133
    Nancy Bradshaw says:

    Nancy Bradshaw Melbourne, Florida

    The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call and the Lord will answer; You will cry for help and he will say, Here am I.

    Isaiah 58:9 NIV

  34. 134
    Jody Emmons says:

    James 1:2 (NKJV)
    My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,

  35. 135
    Lesllie Brown says:

    Leslie Brown, Denver, CO
    Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
    Proverbs 4:23 NLT

  36. 136
    Meredith says:

    Meredith, Virginia Beach, VA


    The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”
Luke 10:41-42 MSG

    {I know I am a day late, but yesterday morning I logged into the living proof site and I couldn’t find verse 19 post…I don’t know why! My first post that I was late:(}

  37. 137
    Lynn Nickoley says:

    NASB Deuteronomy 5:29 ” Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would FEAR ME, and keep ALL of MY COMMANDMENTS ALWAYS, that it may be well with them and with their sons FOREVER. “

  38. 138
    Shannon Vasquez says:

    Shannon Vasquez, Littleton, CO

    Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. (Romans 12:21, NLT)

  39. 139
    Izora Browning says:

    Izora Browning Midland, Texas

    The name of the Lord is a strong tower;the righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10 NIV.

  40. 140
    Suzanne Carlson says:

    Suzanne Carlson – Ridgefield, WA

    Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13 NKJV

  41. 141
    Louise Jacoby, Godfrey, IL says:

    So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

    2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV

  42. 142
    Marsha Saucier says:

    Matthew 11:28 NIV

    Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

  43. 143
    Karen says:

    Karen, Las Vegas, NV – Great and marvelous are your works, O Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations. Who will not fear you, Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations willl come and worshiop before you, for your righteous deeds have been revealed. Revelation 15:3b-4 (NLT)

  44. 144
    Shauna Knott says:

    Shauna K., River Falls, WI.

    I Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV) -“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you are also doing.”

  45. 145
    Regina Coleman says:

    Regina Coleman, Salado, TX

    Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. Malachi 3:10 (NIV)

  46. 146
    Beth Bellow says:

    Beth Bellow, Houston, NIV. 1 John.3:20
    God is greater than our hearts and he knows everything.

  47. 147
    Karen Bell says:

    Karen Bell, Hendersonville, TN

    The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.

    Proverbs 18:10 ESV

  48. 148
    Sandra Plate says:

    Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Hebrew 4:13 NIV

  49. 149
    Susan Brown says:

    Susan Brown. Mandeville, LA

    1 Peter 4:7 “The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.” NIV

  50. 150
    Laura Bosse, Alton, Illinois says:

    I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for
    thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.

    Psalm 4:8 KJV

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