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God's Assignment

Stress is ultimately the product of expectations… expectations we have of ourselves and expectations we feel from others.  But no matter what the source, when we give those expectations power over us, when we make them too high of a priority, they become idols and objects of worship that can quickly put God in the back seat.

It’s a common misconception that God promised not to overwhelm us or give us more than we can handle (He actually said He would not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to resist it – check it out in 1 Corinthians 10:13).  In fact, He tells us that “all things are possible” (Mark 9:23) and that in our weakness, we can rely on God’s strength (2 Corinthians 12:9).  But the expectations of others and the expectations we place on ourselves can be very unhealthy and overwhelming when they take precedence over God’s expectations for our lives.

Just last week, I met with a woman (we’ll call her Julie) who was struggling with this very thing.  Julie had such high expectations for herself, and she had made a god out of her own expectations.  In her marriage, with her children, in her ministry, and in every other area of life, Julie took responsibility for every detail and every agenda and every shortcoming.  She was striving and striving to make each thing happen, and it’s no wonder that in everything she did, she felt like a failure.  She had made a god out of herself.  And just like Julie, whenever we place that kind of expectation on ourselves, we are bound to fail every time.

So many of us find ourselves in the same place, and the first thing we must do to counteract this expectation is to repent.  We have to come humbly before God, apologizing for taking His place, admitting our weakness and insufficiency to do anything right without His Spirit working through us, and falling on our faces in true worship, making God again the Lord of our lives.

I walked Julie through the process of repentance, and then I gave her an assignment.  I took a blank piece of paper and placed it in front of her.  At the top of the page, she wrote “God’s Assignment for Julie.”  She held her pen with expectation, waiting for some profound message that I would give her to write, for something that would reveal what she needed to do, what steps she should take to solve her problem.  But then I said, “Julie, when you’re ready – when you’re truly ready, I want you to sign the bottom of that page and date it.” 

“But there’s nothing on there yet!” she exclaimed. 

“Exactly.”  After we repent of our expectations, we have to receive God’s assignment over us.  The truth is, if we never do another thing right, if we never lead another person to Christ, if we lose our families, our jobs, our possessions, if we have nothing else, God still loves us.  His expectation is that we follow Him, that we “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness”, and that we let Him lead.  That doesn’t mean His page for you is blank, but it does mean you’re going to have to agree blindly to it, before He fills it in, and you’re going to have to pay close attention along the way as God leads you step-by-step along your journey.

I got in the habit many years ago to ask God every day, “God, what do you have for me today?”  Yes, I had commitments (and God wants us to honor our commitments).  I had responsibility to my family, my friends, the organization I worked for and the staff who worked for me, to my church, and the list goes on.  And God knew all of that and called me to those things.  But I chose to put Him first, and it not only changed my perspective about everything I “had to do” (for now it was a privilege and an honor), but it gave me a freedom and a motivation that didn’t overwhelm me or consume me anymore.

It’s true, there are many good things that can overwhelm us as we walk through life.  And there are many bad things that are simply unavoidable.  But we can be consumed by our circumstances, focused on every little thing and making idols out of molehills, or we can give God the honor and the attention of our lives and let His expectations set us free.

Continue to The Proper Order ->
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