Have you ever felt “on fire for God?" It's a term that Christians like to throw around - usually when God teaches us something mind blowing and we become so filled with passion and fervor that we decide right then and there: We will live with FULL conviction - 100% submitted to Christ and the new teaching or habit that the Spirit has placed on our heart. We make a list of the 10, 20, 50 - maybe even 100 - things that we are going to do differently now. And then: We SPRINT. We wake up the next day at 5am and start our day with prayer. Then we read a devotional. We spend an hour in the word. Track everything that we can be greatful for that day. Add 5 new Christian books into our shopping cart on Amazon. Listen to worship music on the ride to work AND back. Spend the day looking for ways to serve our coworkers, our roommate, our spouse, our kids, our friends, etc. We come home and end the day in more prayer and more time in the Word. Okay - maybe not ALL of those things, but you get the point. It's one of those days where you feel like you knocked it out of the park and you're convinced that you are going to live every day from here on out just like that. And trust me - those are all WONDERFUL things! But then... all of a sudden…it's two weeks later and you realize you didn't spend time with God today. You snapped at your coworker. The conviction hits: “When was the last time I opened my Bible? Why do I feel so distant from God? Two weeks ago I had everything together but now everything has fallen apart!” What happened? Hasty feet.
Proverbs 19:2 “Desire without knowledge is not good - how much more will hasty feet miss the way!”
The proverb warns: when you start sprinting towards something without stopping to think, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Desire, even good desire, that prompts us to rush through life and move with “hasty feet”leads us to “miss the way.” We end up with disappointment - instead of consistency with Christ. I'm sure most of us can relate to that feeling of what I like to deem "Christian burnout.”
Most of the time, we burn out when we bite off more than we can chew. But how do we as Christians balance striving to be like Christ without setting ourselves up for failure? My study Bible sums it up like this: "The Christian life is a process of becoming more and more like Christ (Romans 8:29). This process will not be complete until we see Christ face-to-face. (1 Cor. 13:12; Philippians 3:21), but knowing that becoming complete and perfect is our ultimate destiny should motivate us to purify ourselves. To purify means to keep morally straight, free from the corruption of sin. God also purifies us, but there is action we should also take to stay morally fit (1 Tim. 5:22; James 4: 8; 1 Peter 1:22).”
I think what those verses and that commentary is ultimately getting at is this: we CANNOT see consistent spiritual growth and maturity if we jump the gun and start sprinting into action before we experience a heart posture and mindset shift. Part of that mindset is understanding and accepting that God does not operate on our own timeline. Becoming more like Christ is a transformation that does not happen overnight. It’s a SLOW process that happens day by day. It’s a process that happens inwardly, in the waiting, not in the sprint.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16
Here's what I mean: Our life, when God is TRULY at the center, is not a sprint. It's not even a run or a jog or even a fast-paced walk. There's no destination you can get to that will satisfy your soul or make you feel like you’ve finally become the "perfect" Christian that you've always aspired to be. In fact, the Christian "walk" isn't a walk at all. That destination that we long to walk towards, is heaven. And we won’t ever get there living in our sinful flesh on Earth. Only in heaven will we truly be made perfect.
Shortly before writing this, I was reflecting on all that's happened during 2022 - how I've seen God work and what needs to change in 2023. Specifically: How my Christian "walk" needed to change. I felt a nudge from the Spirit. "Where are you trying to 'walk' to?" That was the question lingering in the back of my mind. Then came the revelation from the Lord. In 2023, I won't be "walking" anywhere. Instead, I'll be standing right where God has me. Not sprinting or striving, but standing. Standing firmly rooted with both feet on the ground in the season that the Lord has placed me in. For me that means three things. Standing alert, standing still and standing in God’s love.
1. Standing ALERT: standing alert and ready so I can identify and resist the enemy's schemes.
1 Peter 5:8 (NIV) "Be ALERT and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."
2. Standing STILL: standing still in quietness, so I can focus on the presence and voice of God and so that I can trust in Him alone.
Psalm 46: 101 (ESV) "Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!"
Exodus 14:14 (NIV) "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."
3. Standing in GOD’s LOVE: standing in God’s love, seeking intimacy with God and satisfied fully by Christ alone.
Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV) "The Lord your God is in Your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing."
So, my sweet friends, let’s stop sprinting because we will get so caught up in where we are running TO that we will forget why we are running in the first place. Instead, let’s stand alert, still and attentive to God's love for us. Let’s marvel at our creator. The one who gave us legs that allow us to run. The one who gives us the breath that sustains us. Let’s slow down and look for the ways He wants to use us exactly right where we are. My prayer for 2023, for myself and for all of you, is that we would be women who stop sprinting towards an impossible destination only to be disappointed by cycles of burnout. Instead, let’s be women unafraid to stand right where we are, ROOTED in Christ alone.