So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets…. And the people shouted with a great shout, [ and ] the wall [ of Jericho ] fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. Joshua 6:20
In 2 Corinthians 10:3-6, Paul says the people of God do not “war according to the flesh.” Our weapons are “mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.” A classic example of fighting differently was when the “stronghold” of Jericho was taken by the Israelites (Joshua 6).
The world is not used to seeing God’s people act unexpectedly. So when the armies of Israel marched around Jericho for six days, and on the seventh day blew their celebratory trumpets and gave a shout of victory, they likely didn’t know what to think. Israel rushed over the collapsed walls and took the city. The same thing happened when Gideon used torches, pitchers, and trumpets to completely confuse his enemies (Judges 7). The armies were thrown into confusion and fled the scene.
Satan is the author of fear. When God’s people are courageous instead of fearful, their enemies — spiritual or human — are confused. Trumpets and shouts of praise are signs of victory by faith!
We should be always wearing the garment of praise, not just waving a palm branch now and then.
“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him.” -Psalm 37:23
I face making decisions all the time – for my family, for my clients, for others who come to me seeking answers. In making these decisions or statements, I have occasionally asked myself, “Where is God’s will?” Other times I have asked, “Self, when and where did I lose God’s will? Is it hidden from me? I have to go find it.”
I have talked with others on how they seek God‘s will. Some people use the RAF (Random Access Finger) method – closing their eyes, opening the Bible, putting their finger down, and then opening their eyes to see what God has to tell them.
Then there is the WFBL (Wait For Bright Light) method, as from a burning bush or like the Saul experience. I could use Gideon‘s TF (Turn the Fleece) method, but that requires testing God. Or, the WM (Whisper Method), waiting for God to say, “You are getting warm.” Then, we have the OCD (Open/Closed Door) method, where if open, go for it, and if not, it’s obviously not God’s will. I found these methods, though used by many with sincerity and open minds, not really seeking God’s answer, only confirmation of their own.
If I have a real relationship with Jesus, he has promised me the Holy Spirit to help me with those decisions. I also have the promise that “all things work together for good.” So, it’s a quick prayer of understanding, asking for the wisdom to make the decision, and then going wherever my Spirit-directed heart leads.
God guides us according to his will. We don’t need a road map, just a relationship with him. He lives in us to accomplish His will.
Prayer: Father, thank you that you trust in me to make the right decisions, and even if I screw up by using my will and not yours, I know you will make it right. Lead me by your Spirit in making the choices that honor you. Amen.
Reflection: When seeking God’s will, how do you decide which way to go?
Many Christians today can’t distinguish between the sweat of the flesh and the dew of heaven.
Gideon is one of my favorite Bible characters because I relate to his struggle with inferiority. God pulled this runt of a guy out of a hole in the ground and called him to deliver Israel. Gideon’s classic “Who, me?” response reminds me of conversations I’ve had with the Lord. None of us feels qualified to do God’s work, but we know from Gideon’s example that reluctant wimps can be transformed into valiant warriors.
I’ve heard people criticize Gideon because he laid out a fleece of wool on the ground and asked the Lord—not once but twice—to confirm His promise (see Judges 6:36-40). But the Bible doesn’t say God was mad at Gideon for wanting assurance. In fact, God answered Gideon both times with moisture from heaven. The dew was a sign of God’s favor and blessing.
You know how the story ends. Gideon’s impressive army of 22,000 is downsized to a ragtag band of 300, and they carry only trumpets, clay pots and torches into battle. Through their supernatural victory over Midian, God made it clear that His anointing has nothing to do with human ability.
How many of us have learned Gideon’s lesson? Do you trust the Holy Spirit to work in you, or do you lean on the flesh? Do you have the precious dew of His miraculous anointing on your life, or have you manufactured a cheap form of human moisture to do the job?
Many Christians today can’t distinguish between the sweat of the flesh and the dew of heaven, but there is a big difference. As I have prayed for more anointing in my life, I’ve realized that we often mistake fake anointing for the real thing. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
The anointing isn’t in numbers. We place so much importance on church size today, yet God doesn’t seem impressed by crowds. I have nothing against megachurches as long as they preach the gospel—and many of them do a better job of it than small churches. But we’re headed for disaster if we think seating capacity alone reflects God’s approval.
The anointing isn’t in eloquence. Some people have an uncanny way with words (including non-Christian motivational speakers), but persuasive skill isn’t the same as spiritual anointing. The dew of heaven is holy. It brings conviction and repentance—not self-awareness and an ego boost. And true preaching does not exalt the preacher—it crucifies him and focuses all attention on the Son of God.
The anointing isn’t in looks. In today’s cool evangelical scene, rock star pastors are expected to be sexy, and everyone in the praise team needs trendy clothes. There’s nothing wrong with dressing to reach your audience, but I hope we don’t think the Holy Spirit is impressed with hipness. The dowdy grandmother wearing orthopedic shoes might have a word from the Lord for the congregation—but will we allow her on the stage?
The anointing isn’t in technology. I love to use digital graphics when preaching. But some of the most anointed meetings I’ve been in were in Third World countries where we didn’t even have reliable electricity, much less computers and projectors. When genuine anointing falls on a preacher, he or she can talk for two hours without having to entertain.
The anointing isn’t in emotionalism. In many churches today, lack of anointing creates a vacuum that is filled by screaming, swooning and other forms of religious theater. It doesn’t matter what is preached—it is “anointed” as long as the preacher punctuates it with enough volume and the people shout back. (One preacher I know had everyone hollering while she quoted lines from a Beyoncé song!) Remember: Backslidden Israel shouted so loud that the earth quaked, but by the end of the day the Philistines had plundered them (see 1 Sam. 4:5-11).
The anointing isn’t in contrived manifestations. I love it when the Holy Spirit does miracles. But when people fake the supernatural in order to get an audience response (or a big offering), I run for the door. If we had the fear of God we would never pretend to have the anointing by jerking, slurring words, stretching the facts in a testimony or sprinkling glitter on ourselves.
Charles Spurgeon referred to the Holy Spirit’s anointing as “unction,” and he said of it: “Unction is a thing which you cannot manufacture, and its counterfeits are worse than worthless.” Let’s turn away from every false anointing and ask the God who answered Gideon to soak us with His heavenly power.
J. Lee Grady is contributing editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady.
CORRECTION: Last week some subscribers to this newsletter received a promotional e-mail advertising a curriculum by Bill Johnson. Because of an error in design, the article seemed to imply that Lee Grady wrote the promotional article. Actually it was written by Larry Sparks. Charisma regrets the error.
Why am I doing this to myself?” I asked. Excuses to resign from the call of God flooded my mind.
• I can be normal like other women and stay home. • I am sacrificing my time, energy and finances to help people who do not appreciate what I am doing. • My husband and children do not treat me the way some of these people treat me. • My family will appreciate my spending more time with them. • I really need to have more quality time with the Lord. I can do that if I stop what I am doing. • Since I am experiencing difficulties, maybe I am out of the will of God.
All the excuses made sense to me. After all, I had three young children and a husband who was able to support me financially. Tradition had taught me that a woman should stay home and care for her children and husband. My church emphasized to me that the highest call of God for a woman was to be a mother and a wife.
The most important high call of God was reserved for men. If I wanted to serve Him, I could teach Sunday school to women and children. I should be satisfied with that role and forget about doing ministry outside the home.
Thoughts tormented me for several weeks. Some of them centered around hurtful, negative comments that had been made by others. When those comments were rehearsed in my mind, the excuses for resigning came to the forefront.
It was not the first time I had experienced this type of mental harassment. In fact, several times before I had made the decision to quit the ministry and be a stay-at-home mom and wife. Each time I did, I somehow found myself gradually returning to the place I had quit.
Why had I done that? How many times would I need to resign before the resignation took?
I QUIT! I will never forget the day I made the decision to resign from resigning. Somehow the Lord revealed to me that I was not created to be a “normal” woman.
I realized that what I was doing in my ministry was actually an offering to the Lord and that my husband and children would appreciate me more when I was in the will of God than when I was out of it. I also understood that my walk with God would only be a pleasant experience if I was living in obedience to Him.
As I read my Bible, a Scripture “leaped” off the pages: “Then I said, ‘I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name.’ But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not” (Jer. 20:9, NKJV). How many times had I read that verse? Yet that day it was as if I was seeing it for the first time. The words burned within me. There was a fire deep within me. It was put there by God.
The fire was His call on my life. I could never get away from it. I would never find true happiness outside God’s plan for my life.
At that moment, I took a pen and wrote the date in the margin of my Bible next to the verse. It was like drawing a line in the sand. I declared with great passion from my innermost being, “I have resigned from resigning!”
From that day forth, each time an old thought of resigning would hit my mind, I would remember my decision. Never again would I resign. Never again would I question the call of God. Never again would I consider an alternative to God’s purpose for my life.
I have never regretted the decision. Today, people ask me when I am going to retire. I boldly tell them, “Never!”
My plan is to walk with God and serve Him as long as there is breath in my body. Are there hard places in serving God? Yes. Does that stop me? No. My mind is settled on following God’s plan for my life.
OBSTACLES TO FULFILLING GOD’S CALL
How does a person get where I was so many years ago? Here are a few of the obstacles Satan puts in our path.
Double-mindedness. Often, it is the result of being double-minded. “For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:7-8).
A person who is double-minded vacillates in his thinking. He lives in the midst of doubt. He is unstable, and his ife consists of being pulled back and forth between two options.
That was me. One day I wanted to fulfill the call of God. The next day, I wanted to resign. There was no peace living that way. My only answer was to stop doubting and make a firm decision about the way I was going to live.
Expecting a trouble-free life. Double-mindedness was only one thing that tempted me to resign from the call of God. Another was that I was not seeing the obstacles I was facing as opportunities for growth.
My Christian background had led me to believe that serving Jesus would be free from trouble and difficulties. If I had enough faith, life would be a “bed of roses.” What I was experiencing was definitely not a bed of roses. Thorns, maybe, but not roses!
Through the years, I have met many people who were taught the same thing I was. I have prayed with women who were told their child died because they lacked faith. Some people were told their sickness was the result of sin or bitterness in their hearts.
Many were accused of being out of the will of God since they were having difficulties. I remember those years of facing obstacles and questioning whether I was in God’s will.
Years later, while pastoring a local church, my husband, Dale, and I discovered many people with the same wrong theological thinking. During a time of intense warfare, a couple from our church sat down to meet with us. They wanted to express their concern about some of the difficulties we were experiencing.
“There must be sin in your lives,” they remarked. “We have been looking but have not been able to find it. It must be there, though. Otherwise, why would all this be happening to you?”
Dale and I sat there amazed at what we had just heard. Although we did not view ourselves as perfect, our lives had been an open book. Why did they believe there was some hidden sin in our lives? Why did they believe that if a person is in the will of God, there are no hard places?
Apparently the questions asked us that day were not new. Gideon wondered the same thing.
“Gideon said to Him, ‘O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, “Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?” But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites'” (Judg. 6:13).
The couple in our office was using the same logic as Gideon. It was the same logic I had used years before. But it is faulty.
As we move forward in God’s plan for our lives, we will meet with resistance. The enemy does not want us to reach our destinies.
To be victorious in warfare, we must allow the Lord to change some of our old mind-sets. I had to force myself not to listen to my thoughts or give credibility to my feelings.
The enemy comes to hinder God’s call and keep us from fulfilling the destiny of the Lord. In the Bible the apostle Paul referred to a time when he was hindered from carrying out the Lord’s call on his life. “Therefore we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us” (1 Thess. 2:18).
Another time Paul wrote, “For this reason I also have been much hindered from coming to you” (Rom. 15:22). If Paul was hindered by the enemy, you and I will experience the same type of opposition.
Fear. One of the main fiery darts of the enemy is fear. Fear, doubt and worry are designed to keep us from our destinies.
Fear had always been my enemy, but I did not recognize it while growing up. I simply thought some people were born fearful and shy, and others were naturally outgoing and confident. I was not part of the latter group.
For years, I let fear prevent me from fulfilling God’s purpose for my life. When asked to speak at a meeting, I told people I was not a speaker and willingly gave them a list of names of other women they could call.
I did not want to speak because of my fear of failing. What if I did it wrong? What if I forgot what I was going to say in the middle of speaking? Other people sounded so much better than I did.
I kept waiting for the feelings of fear to disappear before accepting speaking invitations. Not only did the feelings not disappear, they became stronger.
Finally I realized I had to face the fear rather than run from it. During that season in my life, I heard a speaker say something that changed my life: “You will never walk in the fear of the Lord until you lose the fear of man.”
It felt as if arrows were penetrating my heart when she spoke those words. Wow! The fear of man. Was that what I was dealing with? I had never thought about that.
Have you ever thought God was saying something to you, but you weren’t sure it was really His voice you were hearing? Have you found yourself thinking, How do I know it was really God I heard and not my own imagination–or worse, the enemy?
God’s solution is simple: “‘If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him'” (James 1:5, NIV). When we need to know if we are hearing God’s voice, all we have to do is ask Him!
We can go to God, tell Him what we think we heard Him say, and then ask Him to confirm it or correct our hearing on the matter. God wants to give us an understanding of what He says to us because He wants to communicate with us. He is eager to teach us to correctly hear His voice.
What are some steps we can take to make sure we’re hearing God?
1. Put your faith in the right thing. When I was first learning to hear God’s voice, I went overboard in my need to double-check my hearing. I was so afraid I might hear God wrong that I tended to check and recheck my hearing on just about everything. I became very sluggish in obeying God because I spent so much time verifying everything I heard.
My problem was that I had placed my faith in the wrong thing. I was trusting in my ability to hear God–instead of in His ability and faithfulness to speak clearly and to correct and redirect me if I heard wrong.
I used to think that “correction” was the same as “punishment.” But God revamped my thinking by reminding me of my old ice skating coach.
I really liked him. He would watch me try to execute a move and then offer feedback, saying something such as: “Your weight is drifting to the left when you turn. You need to keep it balanced over your skating foot.”
I knew I had just been corrected, but I wasn’t put down or made to feel small or punished. The intent of the correction was to help me excel, and as I applied what he told me, my skating improved.
God told me that I should look to Him as my coach when it came to hearing His voice. He promised that He would let me know when I got something wrong and how to correct it so I could excel in following Him. Suddenly correction became something to be desired instead of something to be feared, and I found out just how faithful and committed God is to the process of teaching us to hear Him.
2. Look for scriptural precedents. It is wise to get into the habit of checking what God says to us against Scripture. God will not say something to us that contradicts what the Bible says. There will be certain “words” we can eliminate immediately as “not from God” when we line them up against what God has already said in the Bible.
At the same time, there are many areas that the Bible does not address explicitly. Still, God is often willing to give us a scriptural precedent for what He says to us. For instance, imagine that you are trying to decide which of two job offers God wants you to accept. You believe He is telling you to take job offer No. 2, one that will put you in contact with hurting people to whom you can minister. But job offer No. 2 is a much lower-paying job than job offer No. 1, so you want to be sure you are hearing God.
You ask Him for a confirmation, and as you’re considering your decision, God directs your attention to Matthew 9:12-13: “‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick….For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'” Those words come alive to you, and you realize that you have just received the confirmation you need to take the second job. God will often use such scriptural precedents to help confirm His communication to us.
3. Don’t fleece God. We must not give God an ultimatum about how He is to confirm His word to us. That’s called “putting a fleece before the Lord,” and it refers to the experience of Gideon found in Judges 6:36-40.
God wanted Gideon to lead Israel in battle against the Midianites, but Gideon was not feeling very confident in his calling–or in his hearing from God. So he laid a fleece (a sheepskin) on the floor and asked God to make the morning dew come only on the fleece, and not on the ground around the fleece. God did this for him, but poor Gideon was still unconvinced. The next night he asked God to reconfirm His word by covering the ground with dew but leaving the fleece dry. Once again, God did as Gideon requested.
Based on this passage, some people assume that they can tell God precisely how to confirm or correct what they believe they have heard Him say to them. In essence, they believe they can dictate the “supernatural hoops” through which God must jump to prove He really said what they believe they heard.
God allowed Gideon to fleece Him, but there is no indication that He was setting a precedent for the rest of us to follow. In fact, there is a strong scriptural precedent against telling God specifically what to do.
Jesus Himself refused Satan‘s suggestion to put a fleece before God by casting Himself off the highest point of the temple. Instead, Jesus said, “‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test'” (Matt. 4:7).
When we go back to God for confirmation, we need to allow Him to choose how He will correct or confirm what we heard. It is not our place to dictate how He does this. Instead, we must trust that He will do it in a way that we can clearly recognize as being from Him.
4. Avoid making assumptions. When hearing God’s voice, we need to be very careful about making assumptions. God can speak to us very clearly, and we can hear Him accurately.
But we can still go wrong by making an assumption about what God means by what He says, only to discover later that we heard God but didn’t understand Him. We have to be very careful not to put words in God’s mouth.
Let me give you an example of how this can happen. A close friend of mine had been praying for some time about a deep and painful rift in her relationship with her sister. Then she received a prophetic word from a lady who seemed to really hear from God.
The word had to do with the restoration of a broken relationship in my friend’s life. However, the lady proceeded to assume that the relationship in question was between my friend and her husband, and she began to minister to my friend about her marriage (which was, in reality, rock solid).
The prophet had received a very keen word from God about my friend’s situation, but the power of that word was almost lost when she assumed the relationship involved was with a spouse. This is an example of how we can accurately hear from God and then make assumptions that mislead others and us. We want to be careful to avoid doing that!
5. Recognize areas of “hearing loss.” We need to remember that there are certain areas of our lives in which our hearing is likely to be less accurate. It is more difficult to hear God clearly in areas where we have “big stakes” in the answer, where our hearts are tremendously engaged or where we know we have a history of hearing wrong. We must double-check these areas and ask God to confirm what we’ve heard.
Here’s an example. A friend of mine who hears God pretty well in most areas of her life recently went through a divorce. After a “recovery period” of a few months, she met a single man who seemed to be everything she wanted in a husband. She thought she began to hear God speaking to her about this man, telling her that indeed he was the man He had for her.
I strongly suspected that this was her own heart speaking, not God, and I tried to find a gentle way to tell her this. But she thought God was saying more and more detailed things to her. She thought she heard Him tell her that her Christmas present from this man would be an engagement ring, with the wedding following shortly after that.
She was so sure she was hearing God’s voice! But December came and went, and she didn’t receive any Christmas present from this man–much less an engagement ring. Later he told her that he considered her no more than a casual friend.
She was devastated not only because the man was not interested in her but also because she had been so wrong in hearing God. She had failed to recognize her own heart imitating God’s voice to her. She didn’t double-check her hearing with God, because she so desperately wanted to hear what she thought she heard.
6. Be ready to obey. Once we hear God, it’s important that we obey what we hear. There are two kinds of obedience: cheap obedience, which is obeying when the stakes are not very high or when it doesn’t cost us much to obey; and expensive obedience, which is obeying when significant consequences are involved. The job decision mentioned earlier is an example of expensive obedience because it involved a choice between a low-paying job and a higher-paying one.
But money doesn’t have to be the issue. For example, if you believe God is telling you to terminate a relationship because it’s unhealthy, that is expensive obedience; if you’ve heard wrong, you put a relationship that is important to you at risk. You want to be sure you have heard from God before you do something that could require expensive obedience.
On the other hand, if the obedience required is low cost or low risk, then you should always and instantly obey. It may very well be God speaking to you, and you want to be in the habit of obeying God instantly rather than spending a great deal of time double-checking with Him first.
God understands that it can be frightening for us as we begin venturing out in hearing and obeying Him. He knows we need confirmation from Him to be sure we have really heard Him correctly. But God is not only willing–He is also eager to meet us and teach us to hear His voice. All we have to do is ask.
Teresa Seputis is an ordained minister and founder and head of GodSpeak International, a nonprofit missions and equipping agency dedicated to making disciples. She is the author of How to Hear the Voice of God in a Noisy World (Charisma House), from which this article was adapted.
“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” –1 John 5:14
It says in Joshua 10: “Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel and he said in the sight of Israel, sun stand still over Gideon and moon in the valley of Aijalon. So the sun stood still and the moon stopped until the people had revenge upon their enemies. So the sun stood still in the midst of the heaven and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day and there has been no day like it before or after it that the Lord headed the voice of a man for the Lord fought for Israel.”
That is what you would call an answer to prayer. Does God answer prayer? Yes, absolutely.
I believe it was Pastor Bruce Larson who said, “Does God answer prayer? Yes, he does. However, sometimes he answers, “Yes.” Sometimes he answers, “No. And sometimes his response is, “You’ve got to be kidding!”
Whichever answer we receive, God answers prayer, but he doesn’t always answer according to our timing, does he? Our schedule doesn’t always align with God’s. In fact, when God does answer prayer, I’ve always found that he answers in such a way that the answer is more complex than what I asked. So it’s not just this one focused little idea that we may have had, but rather it’s a greater answer to that prayer that we never thought or dreamt. It’s beyond our wildest comprehension.
God delights in doing those things for us because then we can stand back and say assuredly, “I had nothing to do with this. It was, in fact, an act of God.”
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for answered prayers. However you answer my prayers, the result is always perfect. To be in your will, accepting your provision, and being content in all things is the blessing I receive for believing in you. Amen.
Devotion: Name some of the most memorable times that God answered your prayers. How was his answer different than you expected? How was it the same or better?.
And the Lord looked upon him [Gideon], and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee? —Judges 6:14
The angel of the Lord told Gideon, “The Lord is with thee.” God told Gideon he didn’t have to rely on his own might, but God’s. He said, “You do not have to be strong in yourself, because you have my strength.”
Satan will never attack our strengths, because he knows he’s defeated in those areas of our lives. But he is also defeated in our weaknesses, because God is made strong in the midst of our weakness.
Gideon was terrified because he couldn’t see past his own weaknesses and limitations. He started making excuses as to why he couldn’t do what God wanted Him to do. God doesn’t make mistakes. Don’t waste your time questioning God when He prompts you to move. Lay your fears onto Him in prayer. Rely on His strength to carry you through to victory, and go forth in the strength of His might.
Do you need strength? God will strengthen you—not for yourself but to be and do what He requires of you.
Lord, You are my strength. In You is the power to live a full and abundant life. Be Thou my strength! Amen.
And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae, of David also-.-.-.-Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.-.-.-.- —Hebrews 11:32-33
Sometimes when we are confronted by the cares of the world, we find ourselves believing in a God who is different from the God of the Bible. Not believing God is who He says He is probably accounts for most of the uncertainty and defeat in our lives.
Believe in Him! The God of the Bible always hears and answers your prayers. The God of the Bible does not cower in the presence of the devil and will never leave you nor forsake you. The God of the Bible cannot fail.
He is the God of battles, the Lord of Hosts, and the God of victory. He will never surrender in the face of adversity because the war is over and He has emerged victorious! Just believe in Him and the battle is already won!
Never consider defeat when He is in the plan and the battle. Never allow doubt to distort His Word or truth. Above the roar of the battle, only one voice rings out the truth—the voice of God. Listen to His still, small voice whispering His truth in your heart.
God, how I listen intently for Your voice in Your Word, in worship, in the stillness, in the Spirit, and in the prophetic moments. Speak to me and I will both listen and believe. Amen.
I surrender … I found myself saying those words while talking with the Holy Spiritabout my frustrations.Whether you are in ministry, in the marketplace or tackling the all-important task of raising a family—or perhaps, like me, doing all three at the same time—you will no doubt come to a point in your walk with God that you feel like giving up. Paul wouldn’t have admonished us not to grow weary in well doing if he hadn’t witnessed people losing heart at times along the journey (Gal. 6:9).
But I’m here to tell you that the answer is not to quit and give up. The answer is to surrender. And there’s a vast difference between the two. As much as I want to sometimes, I’ll never admit defeat in the midst of doing something God has called me to do. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13). And, of course, we know that God always leads us in triumph in Christ (2 Cor. 2:14). I could rattle off a few other Scriptures to drive home the point, but you get the idea.
No, as much as I want to quit sometimes, I’ll never admit defeat in the midst of doing something God has called me to do. But I have learned that there is a time to surrender the vision. Miriam-Webster defines the word surrender as “to yield to the power, control or possession of another upon compulsion or demand,” and “to give up completely or agree to forego especially in favor of another.”
Absolute Surrender Yes, there is a time to surrender the vision. And that time is not after you’ve done everything in your fleshly power to bring it to pass. That time is not when you get so frustrated you feel like giving up. That time is not after people and circumstances have worked against the very thing God called you to do. No, the time to surrender the vision is immediately after God gives it to you.
What am I saying? If God didn’t give you the vision, there’s no use in trying to labor for it anyway. Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” In other words, “’Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6).
See, it’s not really your vision. It’s God’s vision (if it’s not, He has no obligation to empower you to bring it to pass). God has chosen you to be His hands and feet on the earth. But apart from Him you can do nothing. The faster we learn that truth and surrender to His will—obeying His way of executing the plan and yielding to His grace flowing through us to get the job done—the faster we’ll see the vision become a reality. We have to remember that it’s not about us. It’s about Him.
“Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also]’” (Matt. 16:24 AMP).
Denying Your Rights Deny your “right” to do things the way you think they should be done and surrender to His ways. Deny your interests in the project and surrender to His interests. Deny your feelings of frustration and surrender to His grace. When we follow Christ, we walk in peace, love, joy, righteousness and the like. When we follow our own will and our own way—even when our will and ways are eager to serve God’s vision—we just plain wear ourselves out.
I know the harvest is plenty and the laborers are few. But your crew—however small it is—is a mighty force when you surrender to God. Don’t worry about who walks away from the vision, who betrays the vision or who is too scared to execute the vision. Just surrender the vision to God and He will bring you the resources you need for the victory.
I’m reminded of Gideon. God gave him a vision to deliver Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Gideon was surrendered to God to the point that the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon with Himself and took possession of him (Judges 6:34). But not all of his brethren were as sold out to the vision of deliverance. Gideon started out with 22,000 men in his army and ended up with just 300 after obeying God’s instructions.
With 300 men, it seemed like an impossible task to defeat the Midianites. Surely, Gideon would not have chosen to execute God’s vision for Israel’s deliverance this way. Gideon could have gotten frustrated to see 12,000 men turn back in fear and trembling. He could have been disappointed that another 9,700 were not ultimately called to battle. He could have decided not to enter the war seemingly so ill-equipped.
Gideon’s men were faint yet pursuing the enemy as they crossed over the Jordan (Judges 8:4). No one would even give them bread to eat. Gideon had every natural reason to quit and give up. Instead, Gideon surrendered the vision to the God of the vision. And God’s vision became a reality: The Israelites conquered the Midianites so that they lifted up their heads no more. And the land had peace and rest for 40 years in the days of Gideon (Judges 8:28).
If you want peace and rest, even in the midst of the battle that rages as you co-labor with Christ to bring God’s vision to pass, don’t surrender to the enemy by quitting—surrender to God and watch Him bring it to pass. Amen.
By Jennifer LeClaire
Jennifer LeClaireis news editor at Charisma. She is also the author of several books, including Did the Spirit of God Say That?. You can e-mail Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org” or visit her website here.