Sunday, May 12, 2013

Breaking camp & walking forwards

Life is a journey. Things are constantly changing, moving forwards. In the exact same way, our walk with God is also a journey. Sometimes you can stay parked in one place for a season, but it's just a matter of time until change rears its head again and you have to move on. As I always say - "Everything changes, and as soon as you get used to the change, everything changes again."

Over the last few years I have come to realize that when seasons change in life, the people that surround you can also change. I believe that God brings people into each person's life for a reason and often, just for a season. This isn't something you hear taught that often in churches. But it's true. I used to want to be everybody's best friend, to constantly be in touch with everyone I'd ever met throughout the course of my life, to remain connected with people and keep them close to me at all times. The concept of letting people go and moving forwards without someone in my life was completely foreign to me. However, my three and a half years in Taupo really changed all that.

When I went through burnout and began the slow rebuilding process of my life from the ground up, I was forced to come to a very harsh realization. I had been parked at a campsite in my life for far too long. I thought I was walking forwards. In reality, I really wasn't. I was parked at the campsite of wanting to be best friends with everybody and to never cross anybody, to blame myself for being upset when somebody did something wrong and to constantly embrace the almost hippie concept of "peace out, man!" at all times. Of course, everybody liked me. Mainly because I fit into their pockets and didn't bother them. But the reality was that I was stagnating in my life and that I was slowly imploding as a result of all of this. It was killing me staying camped here. During the process of recovering from burnout, it was like God took me by the hand and said "you've been here long enough - it's time to move on."

I faced some very harsh and unjust situations in the final few months before I went through burnout and in a way, I was brought into those situations by the Spirit of God. But I was also brought into them by the self centered, irresponsible and immature actions of people I considered friends at the time. I recognize that burnout was a necessary event in my life. It was something that had to come to pass. But I also realize that part of my education was to learn to stand up to the people who had contributed to my downfall due to their own selfish actions and refusal to deal with their insecurities. My typical reaction beforehand would have been "peace out, man. It's my fault, somehow. They didn't know what they were doing, it's my job to learn from this and keep the peace." However, God used these experiences to begin to teach me how to be a man. He told me very clearly what I had to do. "Get over yourself" he said. This is where the journey of moving on from this soul crippling campsite finally began.

As time went on and I became stronger, God made it clear to me that some of the people who had contributed to this horrible phase in my life needed to be let go of before I could go any further. So not only did I lose several friendships but God also lead me to tell someone the full extent of what their selfishness had contributed to in my life and that it was a final warning for this person - that if they didn't change their ways, they were in trouble. I most certainly lost a friendship out of this. But most importantly - I obeyed God. Shortly after speaking to this person my pastor spoke in his sermon about how God calls us to speak into people's lives and tell them things they don't want to hear at times. He said that it's common for us to be afraid of the consequences but God's word to us is simple - "get over yourself". As soon as I heard that, I knew I'd done the right thing. A lot of people have disagreed with my stance and said that what I did was wrong. I've simply told them that I was being obedient to the Spirit of God and that I answer to Him, and Him alone - no one else.

Let me make one thing clear at this point - if there is one thing in my life I absolutely refuse to apologize for and compromise on, it's taking a stand that God has called me to make. I no longer care who I offend or how they react because if I know that God has called me to do it, it's the right thing to do and that to ignore that word and do nothing is wrong. The prophet Jeremiah summed it up beautifully in this verse But if I say, "I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name," his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. (Jeremiah 20:9). If God calls me to speak into someone's life - even if it's a clear warning about their behavior that could end a friendship - I will do it. Otherwise, His words burn within me like fire until I do so. I never used to be able to say this as I'd always doubt myself and believe I was wrong. But with the confidence I have in my ability to hear God and the confirmation of the words of my pastor I know that if I was to repent I'd be repenting for obeying the word of God - not a wise thing to do.

This whole experience has forced me to move on from that campsite. Moving on from that campsite displeased a lot of people who were used to me being passive and taking everything on board that was thrown at me. But it was part of my journey. I had to walk forwards. God loved me too much to allow me to stay there and my leaving of that campsite may have displeased a lot of people. But I've realized that this is part of life. Some people are stuck at campsites of their own and only like you as long as you stay there with them and remain stuck at the foot of the same obstacles they are stuck at. The second you say that being here is hurting you and your walk with God, and that you need to move on otherwise you're going to stagnate, they become unhappy and get angry at you for no longer being who they want you to be. Some people can give off the illusion of wanting to move forwards in their lives but when push comes to shove they make it clear that they don't want to go anywhere and don't really want to change - either because they don't know how to or because they simply like the attention they get being stuck at the foot of an obstacle and going round in circles. These are the people you need to learn to let go of - not out of hatred but out of the simple fact that if you remain closely partnered to them while they go round in circles, they drag you down with them and hold you back from being the person God has called you to be.

This isn't a judgment call. Everyone is at different phases of their journey and some people just aren't ready to move forwards yet. They can have all the potential in the world, and it's great to recognize that, but you also need to be aware that some people aren't ready to go where you're walking, and vice versa. The people who end up with you for the longest seasons and continue to be by your side throughout the years are those who love truth first and foremost - regardless of how harsh it is because they know the reality that "the truth will set you free" and that anything besides the truth will only keep you in bondage. Throughout my 11 years as a Christian I have learned to love the truth and I do my best to live by it and to walk in it the best I can. I still fail, I still get stuck at the foot of obstacles myself and I still lose my temper due to this frustration at times. But my core principle remains the same - I love truth because it's the truth that has set me free. I realize that those who will remain close with me are those who also love truth and don't flinch when truth is given to them - regardless of how unpleasant it is to hear and how much it contradicts what they want.

My point in all of this is that our desire as Christians should always be to walk forwards. Sometimes God places us in campsites we can't get out of for a reason and for a season but it's always temporary. Listening to God and obeying Him, regardless of how hard it is, is what moves us forwards and stops our spiritual lives stagnating. Those who love the truth and want to see you be the best you that you can possibly be, will acknowledge this. Sometimes those who get annoyed with your stance and want you to stay in camp with them at the foot of an obstacle are those you need to let go of, or at the very least reconsider their place in your lives.

Take care.


  1. I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe! Great to connect! I look forward to reading your posts!

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    Loren Mathis

  2. Change can be incredibly painful, but seems to work out for the best in the end.

    I found your blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe. Great to connect! I'm at I look forward to reading your posts!