As I continue to launch in 2017 it is not without reflection. Often before a new year starts I take a break from my regular routine and focus on the Lord and His plan for my life. I try to get a sense of where I am and if there are any loose ends that need to be tied up before the new year begins. I dedicate more time to prayer, fasting and reduce my time on social media. However this year things were different. I was sick for most of the Christmas season, plus I was preparing to move. Fortunately what kept me on track was a sermon series by my Pastors. It was entitled “The Spirit Filled Life.” Through this message I was empowered to finally take The Road Less Traveled. My earnest desire has always been to live out God’s best, but I deeply craved a life of stability rather than one of faith-filled adventure. It is a road the Lord has wanted me to take for quite some time, however due to a number of circumstances I never had the courage to do it. Nevertheless I believe this moment marks the end of a chapter and the start of a new one.
I have always had a fear of “What if I miss it?” What if I am spiritually “off” and God is not really leading me down the path I’m on. (These are the type of terms we use in the church to express when someone is misguided or misunderstanding what the Lord is saying or how He is leading in a particular area.) Never mind that the Word of God says in Psalms 37:23 (NKJV) “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way.” He is true to His Word. We ought to be confident in the Lord’s love and character, however this can sometimes escapes those young in their faith. These thoughts used to cross my mind and cause me to worry. Recently the Lord pinpoint the root cause and I realized just how much certain experiences effect one young in their faith.
Early on when I first began attending church God was doing so much in my life. There was a three years period where the Lord was doing an immense healing and restoration process; putting the pieces of my life back together. Towards the end of the that time is where I began taking small steps of faith whenever I felt His spirit leading. God being the faithful Father was right there encouraging me on. The more I did I began to tangibly see God’s hand at work in my life. As I trusted God with small things it became easier to trust Him with bigger and more complicated situations. Things steadily progressed and eventually led up to a major God encounter in 2005. This involved attending a conference outside the country, which was paid by a woman I met briefly prior to leaving on the trip. There are, of course, many details about this experience that would take to long to mention, but essentially the Lord tore the roof off what I thought was possible and drastically increased my of level faith and expectation. Going forward I knew my life would never be the same again.
Surprisedly, when I returned home I was met with mixed reviews. Although there were those who rejoiced for and with me, there were some that were sceptical. I received little encourage to embrace this new found faith and freedom the Lord was presenting. I was made to feel spiritually off when I did. Most acknowledged that is was indeed a “great” experience, but that I had to come to terms with facts. That it was just an experience. This was the moment I began to doubt myself and second guess what the Lord would speak to me. (As if to give merit that a contrary spirit was leading me down this path and I could not trust what I felt the Holy Spirit was speaking to me). Looking back now there was this unspoken message: Stay the same. Continue to fit in and comply with the current status quo or suffer the alternative. Be singled out as rebellious, not submitted to authority, and spiritually misguided. Needless to say I did not understand it at the time, but it is clear now. I was being set apart and it was entirely the Lord’s doing.
My mindset on things had begun to change. I no longer saw situations and circumstances as limitations. I saw them as opportunities for the power of God to move in and through my life. But it came with a price. Having to deal with criticism. Back then I was still considered as a new kid on the block. My brand of different was not sitting well with the older, and more seasoned Christians. Unfortunately through a series of events a seed of doubt were planted in my mind. I began to doubt the Lord’s leading. I did things to avoid peoples’ rejection. If I didn’t I was regularly labeled as someone who was unwilling to submit to authority, spiritually off, seeking the lime light, and wanting position. I perceived as a threat, therefore was to be kept under control.
Being labeled hurts, however at some point you have to take a stand. I finally chose to follow Christ and His unique path for my life; not forfeiting who I am to suit the ideas and expectations of others. It has meant walking much of my journey alone. And that’s ok! I have learned to press into God’s presence and really heavily on His Word to see me through every situations. There are times I wished I had someone to talk to and He does provide those people. Nevertheless if He doesn’t the Lord is my source. I look back now and it makes me sad. That I allowed people who chose to settle for simple and mundane affect my faith and walk with Christ. Either way it is a lesson learned and for that I am thankful. The beautiful thing about following the path God has laid out for me is I no longer need to make my life make sense to anyone other than Jesus. With each day my longing to know what He desires increases and the approval of other diminishes.
To move forward unencumbered I must forget the past. Isaiah 43:18a says “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past…….” Forget the former things means letting go of the past including every negative experience. I can not dwell on it or have it captivate my thoughts. I must continue to fight to hold onto my faith, my freedom and the clarity the Holy Spirit gives me. As I do I gain greater understanding of my purpose, receive clearer direction of what to do next, and experience greater joy while I step closer to completing my God-given earthly assignment.
Taking the road less traveled it is not something to be afraid of. It is something to be embraced. It is one filled with miracles and the tangible presence of God. The reality is you are going to get labeled no matter what you do. You might as well get labelled as the one who wholeheartedly followed the Lord and fulfilled your purpose. Trust me….different is better…..