We all have habits, traditions and like to do things a certain way. I like to have the toilet paper go over not under. (Why would you want it the other way?) I want my house to be clean before I go on a trip. I straighten the pillows on our couch every single day because some family members think letting them go everywhere is okay. I actually drink a whole water bottle and not leave it half empty. (My biggest pet peeve!) You get the idea. Most of these habits I have had for many many years and I can’t see myself changing in these areas anytime in the near future.
I think most of us have certain things ingrained in us that our parents taught us or we learned growing up and then they become habits. Most of the time we don’t even realize what they are until they become a problem or a sickness in our lives. My brother David developed OCD at a young age and as he grew older it took over his life. His personal habits became a sickness. I was a driven person that had to be perfect at everything I did. I would push myself until I couldn’t push anymore and then I would make myself sick. I did this through my forties and if I am perfectly honest I did this until a few years ago. I was extremely self-destructive. I try now to realize what I am doing and stop, but I still fail at times.
Priscilla Shirer says in her book He Speaks to Me, “God knew that the Israelites couldn’t make it a priority to worship Him single-mindedly while they were being held in bondage in Egypt. They couldn’t devote to Him while they were slaves to Pharaoh. They didn’t have enough time and energy to do both well. Once God brought them out of Egypt, they were free to serve Him with all their hearts. When they followed God and His priorities, He invited them into His presence and made His will known to them.”
I spent a lifetime in bondage to so many different things that I couldn’t see the Lord in my life. It was like having a closet crammed full with so many things that you can’t find what you are looking for. I couldn’t find Him and I was so frustrated. I needed to start getting rid of things so I could get to Him. But in order to do that, I needed to quit talking and start listening to God. I needed Him to tell me what to do and how to do it. I had to be single-minded and focus on Him. Priscilla says, “The decision to repent, be still and trust is a conscious commitment that requires courage and diligence.” So, I went to the mountain top in my mind with the wind blowing in my hair and said, “I am not moving until you tell me to move. I am not doing anything until you tell me to! You are the One with the answers and I am sick of making mistakes all the time and not listening to You! So, please tell me what your will is in my life!”
Up to this point, I had been surrounded most of my life by turmoil and chaos. I would get so wrapped up in it that I couldn’t calm down and be still and listen to the Lord. Priscilla says, “Peace is a crucial component in hearing God’s voice and deciphering his will. By deliberately quieting his soul, calming his ambition, and confessing his sins, David found himself at rest and in a position to hear from God.”
In our world today, peace and quiet are hard to find. There are a million things that are screaming for our attention and a lot of them are good things. We need to decipher what things God wants us to keep in our closet and what things we need to get rid of. I had to ask myself this very important question. “Am I looking for You or for ways I can work for You?” My problem was that I was so used to activity that I needed to learn to be still and be okay with just sitting with Him and not wanting to go off in a million directions. I needed to be content with Him alone. I asked, “Can I be a Mary and be at your feet and be happy?” He clearly said to me, “I want you to be content at my feet. I want your eyes to be on Me. I want your joy to come from Me, not from your accomplishments. You need to find your joy in Me. Laurie, look for Me not answers. Look for Me in everything you do every day. Watch Me work. You need Me more than anything else.”
I struggled so much with having a healthy relationship with my heavenly father. I allowed so many other relationships to take priority in my life. I wanted a vibrant and strong relationship with Him and He was telling me to sit at His feet and be still. I didn’t have to do a thing but be quiet and listen. I was so used to “doing” and all He wanted from me was to open my eyes and see and open my ears and listen. I didn’t have to perform for Him.
I have to tell you that living this way has brought me more joy to my life than I ever imagined was possible. All it took was obedience on my part. Doing what God tells me to do is really the best way to live. Priscilla says, “Obedience to God always brings rewards – not the least of which is increased communication with God.” I knew that if I did what He wanted me to do, my life would be so much better. I don’t know why I fought it for so long!
So, I had to go to my closet and get rid of the things that were hindering my relationship with Him. Some things were easy to get rid of and others I had a very hard time letting go of. Some things were in there that I didn’t even realize I had issues with. But, I knew my relationship with Him would be so much better if I listened to Him and got rid of the things that were in the way of growing closer to Him. This process took time and He was very patient with me. I wanted to be like Samuel in Sam. 3:10, “The Lord came and stood there calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel! Then Samuel said, “Speak for your servant is listening.”
I crave to hear the Lord speak to me. I look for Him every day. I can honestly say that there is no better way to live than listening to Him and then doing what He tells me to do. I still have my moments when I say, “You want me to do what?” or “I can’t do that!” or “Help! I’m scared!” But, when I calm down and take some time to reflect, I realize that He isn’t going to tell me or ask me to do anything that He won’t enable me to do. He just wants me to be willing and focus on Him. When He asked me to write this blog, I went through so many excuses, questions and literally arguments over why I couldn’t do this. He allowed me to question His judgment and responded to me with love and assurance. When I write, He is the author, not me. He has shown me that when He asks me to do something, He will give me what I need to do it. I love Him so much! I want to spend the rest of my days honoring Him with what He calls me to do.
So I would like to challenge you to take the time to go through your closet and listen to Him tell you what needs to go away so you can focus on Him and listen to Him. I promise you, you will not regret it! Life is so much sweeter when He is the priority! Until next time dear friends!
Jeremiah 7:23 “Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you.”