During this season, God has been teaching me many things. The ironic thing is, there have been several lessons I’ve had to learn that I thought I already knew. Lessons I’ve had to learn, or learn all over again, that I used to teach.
It’s kind of humbling to realize you have to learn the very things you used to teach to others.
The other day as I was reflecting, a couple lessons that I used to teach came to mind. These were lessons that I would often share, as well as teach in messages. One of them was so common for me to say that I even had a student tell me that it was one of the reoccurring themes in my messages.
As I was thinking about these lessons, I began to see how I have actually been learning them in my own life lately. Not because I didn’t believe them or know they were true before. But rather because I needed to not just know them, I needed to live according to them.
The first lesson, and the one that my student several years ago told me was a common theme in my messages, was that…
It Is Not About Me
It is so easy for us to want to make everything in our life about us. To have things the way we want, do what we want when and how we want, and to have everything go the way we decide they should.
After all, we know what we want our life to look like. We know what our rights are. And we have a plan for how things should be.
One of the hardest things to realize is that it is not about me…and it’s even harder to live according to that truth.
To realize that it is not about me means we have to admit that we aren’t the most important person. It means we have to acknowledge that our plan might not happen when or how we think, or that we won’t get everything we want. It may even mean that some of our rights might not be the top priority.
And then to live according to the truth that it is not about me means we have to be willing to consider others as more important than ourselves. It means we have to be willing to put our plans and wants aside and live with contentment in the moment. And it even means that we have to be willing to sacrifice some of our rights for those we care about.
Philippians 2:3-4 says
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
God calls us to put others before our self. To consider them, and put them first. To love them the way we should…love them like how God loves us even when we don’t love him. To treat them right…even if they don’t treat us right back.
Philippians 1:21 says
For to me to live is Christ…
and Philippians 1:27 says
…let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ…
and Galatians 2:20 says
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me…
The reality is, it is not about me. It’s about God. It’s about living for him, about seeking to follow and obey him in this life, regardless of the current circumstances. God is to come first in my life, even if it means I have to be willing to make sacrifices in my own life to follow after him. My life is to glorify him, not myself.
The second lesson I used to teach and now I am learning is…
God doesn’t move, we move
I remember having conversations with people, where they would express to me the struggle of feeling as though God had left them. They weren’t sensing his presence like they had before, and they didn’t know why. But it felt like God had moved away from them…like he had left them.
As I would talk with them, one thing I would always remind them is that God hasn’t left, or moved. The truth is, it will sometimes feel that way. God chooses to be silent at times. And because we as humans are so easily distracted and fickle, it’s easy for us to move farther from God at a particular moment. But God doesn’t move.
One of my favorite ways to illustrate this was with a funny little story about a husband and wife. When they were first married, they always wanted to be close to each other. The front seat of their car was a bench seat, so as the husband drove, his wife would slide over and sit right next to him. She would hold his arm, sometimes lay her head on his shoulder, and just be close to him as he drove. Life went on, they had a family, jobs, etc. Many years later, they were driving in the car…the husband was driving, and the wife was sitting in the passenger seat. She looked at her husband, and remembered back to when she sat next to him, not wanting any space between them. But now there was space between them as she was sitting on the passenger side. She noted this, and said to her husband, “What happened? We used to sit next to each other, and now I’m all the way over here.” Without missing a beat, the husband simply replied “I haven’t moved.”
Hebrews 13:5 says
I will never leave you nor forsake you
The reality is, God does not move from us. He is always with us. He hasn’t left, or wandered off, or forgotten about us. Even when we feel like he has…the truth is he has not.
There will be times we feel that way. Like I said earlier, there are times God is more silent. And that is hard for us, because we always want to hear from him and sense his presence and leading. However, just because he is being silent doesn’t mean he has gone anywhere.
It could mean, however, that we have moved from him. We may not even realize it, or know we have. But if God doesn’t move, and there has been any movement, it has to be us.
We are very easily distracted from him by the things of this world. It is very easy for us to become so busy, or to want the things in this life so much, that we lose our focus on God and begin to focus on other things. As humans it happens easily, and often without us knowing it at first.
There are times when we are also mad at or disappointed with him for something, so we kind of pull back from talking to him or seeking him as much as we did before. We do this with people in our life when we are struggling, so it’s natural for us to also do with God. But again, he hasn’t moved, we have.
Jeremiah 29:13 says
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
This is both a challenge and a promise. Notice it says “with all your heart”. Seeking after God is not a half-hearted pursuit. If we are doing it half-hearted, we aren’t going to sense him or find him fully. We need to seek after him with all of our heart. To push aside the things in this life that get in the way of us staying focused on him first, so that we will continue to be close to him.
The reality is, sometimes I feel abandoned by God in this life. I feel like he is far, or has forgotten about me. But the truth is, he hasn’t. So I must be willing to find areas in my life where I may have moved farther from him, and I need to choose to seek after him with all of my heart.
These are 2 lessons that I used to teach and share often. Now, I’m learning them myself. I’m learning to not just know them, but to live according to them each day.