Man up, Part 3 of ....Strongholds versus God's Kingdom This past week my whole family and I were up in Michigan on vacation. This place we go to has it all (beach, pool, hiking, zip-lines, rock-climbing, preaching and daily teaching and a kids' program to boot. One of the days I took all 2 of my 3 kids, some cousins and my sister-in-law zip-lining. My wife stayed back with our youngest who was not old enough for the zip. When you cut through the trails and up the hill you see this long tower that you have to climb before you can be strapped on to the Zip-line. There is a moment of apprehension that can be viewed in some of the kids that attempted this trial. The picture to the left is my middle child. She had no apprehension whatsoever in her. She climbed, she trusted and then she jumped right off the tower trusting with wreck-less abandon. Meanwhile, her cousin, who usually has no fear, climbed to the top without any hitch until she got to the point of complete trust in the Zip-line and the assistant who would undue the climbing rope and attach the Zip-line. She freaked and she shook and she didn't want to let go.
After several minutes and a lot of encouraging from the ground level (cousins, uncles, mom and others) she crawled to the edge and sat down and finally let go and zipped down the hill. As we said, she loved it, she loved it so much that she did it two more times. This of course, made me think and reflect with how we are with God with some of the strongholds in our lives. That is, to say, the things that we still want control over and that we don't want to give up to God. Say for instance: Finances, hobbies, sports, extra-curricular activities, or you plug-in what you are thinking of this very instant. For me, it is really good and easy to trust when things are going without any problems or pain or hurts. I mean, I know I love God with all my heart and that I trust him (most of the time) but then there are instances where I find myself putting me in front of him and trying to weather the storm or do it my way or maybe I think that I can handle it and maybe I feel like I just don't want to bother Him with such minute details. Who are we kidding, right?
I would think that most of you reading this at one point or another in your lives are brought to this very point in your lives (your walk of Faith). We climb to our own successes and we get to that point where we are about to let go of the climbing line and strap onto the zip-lines of our faith. That moment when we let go and let God. For some of us, we have had pasts that we are to afraid to let go. For others, we don't want to give up that control to trust (that stronghold in each and every one of our lives) and for others it is just plain fear. If we are honest, I would bet that 100% of us fall in one of these descriptions in our lives. Maybe it is co-habitation and we are afraid to commit and trust God's plan for our lives. Maybe it is finances or some major decision in our lives that we will trust ourselves but are afraid to trust God. Maybe for some of us it is those dark places in our lives that we don't want to let go of (alcohol, pornography, sexual promiscuity....(you fill in your blank)) and we are just too afraid to let go and let God. For me, it was the point of my marriage (early in my life) when I had created my own sets of morality based on my twenties (not walking with God) and was in my early 30's trying to justify sin in my life to a Holy God. I was in the early years of my marriage and finally had to have an honest talk with my wife and prayer with God. I was reading through the Bible and was deeply convicted of my false sense of morality (making myself a god instead of trusting our Holy God). I had to confess this false sense of morality and impurity to both my wife and to my Lord. I asked for forgiveness to the both of them and my wife didn't judge me (like I thought she would) in fact, she told me to do something about it (get serious in my walk). Basically to let go and let God do this work in my life. So I did! Both her and I started serving more in church and building in community. I got more and more involved in the men's ministry and had brothers who (to this day) keep me accountable and pray with me and for me. I have a wife who isn't insecure of our love and who trusts me because she trust the God in our lives who is convicting me to lead a life worthy of His Salvation for me. Not by works, I cannot earn my way to Heaven, but by Faith. My act of worship (thankfulness and adoration) is my walk and worship of Him and to let go and Let God do this in my life - complete trust and complete obedience. Do I always get this right, no! As a matter of fact, I sin every day and I mess up all the time (I am a man and not God). He knows my strengths and he knows my weaknesses as well). He has plans for me, plans not to harm me and plans to prosper me.
Wherever you are in your walk right now, reflect on these things that I am saying and ask yourself, ask God and His Spirit to reveal the things in your life that you have to let go of. Pray on these things and ask that he will remove the strongholds in our lives (our own kingdoms) and that he will show us His Kingdom in our lives and what he requires us to do for Him. When you find yourself climbing that "proverbial tower" in your life (like my niece did this past week) and you are about to let go of the climbing line and jump in faith to what God has in store for you and your life then and only then can we see his will for us, his plan for us and what he desires most for us. Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Four years ago (and then again 3 years) ago, I almost lost my wife. She was extremely close to renal failure 4 years ago. At that time, I had a 5-year-old, a 3-year-old and a 2-year-old. I had a hard time trusting. I had many nights of arguing and tears shed and battles with God. After I put the kids to bed and did all the work that needed to be done while my wife was in the hospital, I would fall into bed and argue with God. I don't recall all the tears or words that were said, but I did ask if this was his plan for my life? Really? I couldn't believe it. That night I heard this song performed by Tree63 called blessed be your name. There is a part of that song that says, "You give and take away, BUT blessed be your name!" Job prayed that and said that when he lost everything (personal wealth, children, homes, etc.,) yet he praised God. Oh, the weak faith that I have at times. But that night I prayed that part of the song, knowing that he could very well take my wife home to be with Him. I cried and I let go. The next day I had this incredible peace (it was day 5 of the 6 days that my wife was in the hospital) and the phone rang that morning. It was the lady who was the head of our prayer team and she said to me that her and 6 other ladies were praying for me that very hour that I had the peace. My mother-in-law, who was 1500 miles away at that time had the exact time of peace - God is in control and all he asks is that we let go and let God.
Can we man up? Can we let go of the strongholds in our lives and let God tear them down and peel those layers away?