• Brian Undlin

Fruitfulness or despair

I’m not sure how I became such a chicken but growing up I dreaded conversations with people I didn’t know well and this fear only grew with age. This created a problem for me. God had called me into ministry which is a never ending string of such conversations. I knew that God was calling me out of my boat. But I still didn't budge. I found "spiritual" answers and believed lies "God doesn't need me to get close to people, I have my gifts & God can use those".

After YEARS of resisting these promptings from heaven came with the understanding that I didn’t have the option of staying in my silent box and enjoying peace. He was serious about this and if I was smart I would be too. The longer I resisted the more I felt something inside me dying, there was going to be pain connected to failing to RESPOND. We don't discuss "the fear of God" much today but our Bible (even our NT) is full of it's teaching. We usually believe that RESPONDING to God is the difference between an awesome path (and if we blow God off) a slightly less awesome path. But his forgiveness will make it all the same in the end - right?

The story we're warned to pay special attention to (1 Cor 10:6) is all about 2 million "believers" who God brought of Egypt but didn't end well. He led them in a pillar of fire right to their promised land. But alas it was "just too hard", they turned away. So God brought them to a land flowing with almond milk and molasses instead of the original milk and honey - right? Nope, they all died in despair - Circling in a dry wilderness. They were grumbling because of their misery, but all they had to do was RESPOND to God when he said move forward.

We all find those places where we think we simply can't do what God asks - "it's just too hard".

It's too hard to forgive my spouse (or my kids, parents, boss, the gossip...).

It's too hard to quit ________ (fill in the blank). It's too hard to pray. I can go on but you get the point.

Thank God, he was shockingly patient and merciful with our wilderness friends and he is with us too. In these "sticking spots" the love of God is our primary motivator. Knowing his love and lifted by his grace - I overcome!

BUT HE KNOWS WHAT WE KNOW. We pretend to not understand what we should do occasionally, (ever not hear mom at chore time?). God is hard to fool and there will be sticking spots where we need something even deeper than mercy to dynamite us out of our hole - And the fear of God does the trick. It's an amazing motivator in that spot. When I face the reality that God is willing to let me die in a land a lot "harder" than moving ahead - I'll move with him.

Unless you’ve personally overcome a life-long fear it would be hard to understand how something so small can be so hard. So hard that many of us are held back by a “giant” that is only 3 feet tall. Held back is putting it kindly, trapped inside “strong-holds” is more biblically accurate.

As I look back, I’m shocked because what I once feared, I’ve now found to be my great joy. Beyond loving relationships in the church, I now “Pray for ONE” daily (God send me ONE person today to share your love with), and look forward to his answer. I’ve discovered that God is guiding my path and those doors God opens are what I call “God conversations”. As soon as you start seeing the people in your path as ordained, you’ll start having “God conversations” too.

WHAT WAS I AFRAID OF? What was I hiding from? Most giants that control us in our darkness aren’t very impressive out in the daylight. RESPONDING can be challenging but it ends up being the difference between fruitfulness or despair. If despair has been a fellow traveler and you've tried new Bible studies and prayer methods - try going back to where it was "too hard" and say YES LORD.

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