Friday, April 19, 2013

Walking the right path

I've been thinking recently about the purposes of God in my life as a Christian. God walks with the people who have chosen to accept Him and lays out paths for them that He wishes for them to walk in their lives. So how do we know when we are on the path He wants us to walk on, or the path we've chosen for ourselves that's actually gone against what He wishes for us?

I remember one particular incident in my life when I had just finished my first year of Faith Bible College. I returned home to Wellington and without asking God what He wanted I just went for what I wanted to do, which was get a job and work to pay off the student debt I had accrued. I didn't bother to ask God what He wanted me to do. Looking back now, I know that wasn't God's will for me. I think I was meant to go back to Faith Bible College. But I didn't care. I told God if I didn't get this job, I was moving to Australia. ANd I meant it. When I was first offered the job it just seemed to me as if God was saying "fine - have it your way". But I didn't care. I had a job. I got what I wanted.

Things started off ok. But as time wore on frustrations began to creep in and I began to lose any sense of peace I ever had about this job. I became more and more distressed and unhappy. I thought if I just continued to hang in there and persevere things would improve. They didn't. Despite all outward appearances that things were fine, I was in complete chaos on the inside. Things only continued to get worse and finally I ended up speaking to my doctor who prescribed me antidepressants. The thing is, I had very low serotonin levels in my brain so I had been in need of antidepressants for some time. It was a blessing in the sense that this situation at work made me aware of my need for medication. But then the horrible side effects began. Sweating, shaking and the like.

I continued to persevere but I was regularly taking days off work sick due to the horrible side effects of the medication I had just begun. My body was under so much stress I was struggling to eat and often couldn't keep food down. Eventually Christmas time rolled around and I went to stay with friends on Great Barrier Island. On the way up to Auckland I had the first sign that something was seriously wrong with me. I felt this horrible wave of nausea ripping through me and it was so bad I had to ask the bus driver to pull over. I crouched on the side of the rode in Turangi, gasping for breath.

At Great Barrier things only got worse. What was supposed to be a relaxing holiday got ten times worse when one day I literally felt as if my stomach had been ripped in half. Shortly afterwards I began vomiting blood. I was rushed to the doctors who immediately called the helicopter to fly me to Auckland hospital. Turns out I had a bleeding stomach ulcer due to high stress levels. I lost a huge amount of weight (not like I have any to lose anyway) and after a few days in hospital, I returned back to Wellington. When I got back to work I was told I was not performing adequately and that regular meetings would be happening to discuss my performance. I soon realized I was more or less being asked to leave. I finally realized I couldn't keep this going and that I had to quit. So I resigned and moved back to Tauranga to do my second year at FBC like I was meant to in the first place.

What did I learn from all of this? To ask God what He wants instead of just taking what I want. Because although things can look good for a while, eventually the reality will begin to sink in that all that's really happening is that you're "pushing crap uphill" so to speak. What happens the second you stop pushing something uphill? It rolls back down on you. There's nothing else to help it continue its journey. There's no one else pushing - only you.

I also learned that acts of willful disobedience by not asking God His will and expecting Him to just fit in with what I wanted to do can only continue for a season. It got to the point where I think God just said "that's enough - you're not going any further in this." It was always going to fail at some point. A Christian who wants to follow God's will can only continue in deliberate disobedience for so long before they hit a brick wall.

Yet another thing I learned was that although I was doing wrong - good things can be taken out of these situations. It was actually a huge blessing to me to realize that I needed to start a course of medication at that point because it helped take my serotonin levels back up to normal. It also taught me that the safest place to be is in the place of God's will and if Godly people or God Himself are warning you not to do something you should really listen to them as there's quite often a good reason why.

When we walk in the path God has set for us - we're not pushing crap uphill. It can be hard at times - incredibly hard. But if God has brought us to it, then He will bring us through it. The all important factor is that because we are being obedient by listening to His voice and obeying His instructions, He is actively involved in our journey - closing doors He doesn't want us to walk through and opening doors He wants us to walk through. There's a deep sense of spiritual peace that comes from walking in the path God has for us - the peace that "surpasses all understanding". (Philippians 4:7). When we are walking in accordance with our own selfish desires and not in the will of God, we lack that peace. It simply isn't there. We can get some kind of emotional gratification from that path - such as we would out of being in a wrong relationship - but the deep down, underlying sense of spiritual peace isn't there. The lack of peace will eventually force its way to the surface and until then we aren't really living but existing, in a place of numbness because we know what we are doing is wrong, but we refuse to admit it.

Isaiah 30:21 says "When you turn either to the right or the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying 'this is the way, walk in it.'" God has promised us in His Word that He will speak to us and guide us. The question is - are we prepared to listen to Him, even if the voice is telling us what we really don't want to hear? The fact is - if we continue deliberately walking against His will, we will someday realize it and regret it.
So if you hear God's guidance behind you today, if you see Him actively closing doors in your life and warning you not to continue the way that you are going - listen to Him. You don't want to go through what I did to learn this lesson.

Take care.

No comments:

Post a Comment