Put It Down

When my husband, Justin, approached me to plant a church about ten years into our ministry and marriage, I was less than thrilled. In fact, after years of disappointment and hurt in ministry I was teetering on the edge of giving up. That is not the place in which I thought one should be to launch a church and become lead pastors. As I wrestled with this, and kept saying ‘no’ to God and Justin, I heard God gently nudge me saying, “If you will just be willing, I will do the rest.” God gave me the strength in that moment to say yes. And I have watched Him “do the rest” that I couldn’t do.
For the first three years of the church planting, I had been happy to sit back and let God “do the rest” as He promised to do. He had done everything we had not known how to do, didn’t have the money or resources to do, and hadn’t even thought of doing.

As I watched God do all of this, I should have been able to enjoy all He had done, but I didn’t. Instead, I became very aware of how far we still needed to go.

Rather than celebrating how far we’d come, I focused on all there was yet to do. In fact, it actually felt like there was more to do each week than there was at the very beginning of starting the church. I began to stress about how we were going to do all the things left undone. There was all this wonderful ministry growing, yet I was focusing on all that needed to be done—all the holes left to fill. I began to panic because we didn’t know how to get to the next level and complete what was incomplete. And just like that, I took the burden off of God and put it back onto myself, and the church staff, to accomplish God’s vision for the church.

It took a while for me to realize what I was doing, and when I put my focus back on God’s ability and not my own, He let me know, “I said that if you would be willing, I would do the rest. That doesn’t just mean in the beginning—that means permanently.”
God often reminds me that I need to let things go. I need to stop telling Him what I need Him to do, how to do it and when to get it done. There are many times I stop trusting momentarily that He will do the “rest,” and feel it’s up to me. That is a difficult balance for us to find.

We waiver back and forth between operating in our own strength and then stepping back and trusting God. We pick up the burdens and we lay them down, only to pick them up again.

Last week I was once again panic-praying for all the things I felt the Lord should be doing and He reminded me that I needed to surrender again. He said to me, “put it down.” In fact, He told that I need to actually be on my face with Him—like on my carpet—out loud surrendering everything I was holding so tightly to. So, every day I have been laying out (literally) all of those things I feel the need to control and offer them to God. I surrender my will, my plans, and my control over to His. The first couple of days I did this were hard for me because I wanted to hold onto some things and still ask for my way. While I continued to do this, God kept saying, “put it down.” To me, the tone in that came across like I would say to my girls when they were little to put something down they could break.

He kept saying it over and over. “Put it down.” He told me that I was surrendering daily and then picking it back up. As I listened, He began to remind me that He was telling me to put it down–not just because it was disobedient for me to hold onto all of the things, but He wants me to put it down because I can’t hold it. I can’t handle all of the things in my life. I can’t cause anything to happen. I can’t change situations, but He can. When I put it down, He can pick it up. And oh, when He picks it up, that’s when He can do far more than I can ask or imagine in all of the areas I am surrendering.
I share all of this because I don’t think I am alone. As women, in general, we tend to hold tightly those things so important to us. We hold our callings, our people, our plans very closely and tightly. We have so much to be concerned with, sometimes a heavy burden to hold—ours and for others.

I encourage you to put it down. If you have to, actively choose to put it down every single day because our nature is lay it down and then pick it right back up. And remember that when we put it down, our Heavenly Father picks it up and He can do miracles. He makes smooth our paths and gives life and peace.

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

“Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

The struggle with timing…

 

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven….

Ecclesiastes 3:9-15 “What do people really get for their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet, God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I have concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God. 

And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken away from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear Him. What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.

Discontentment has already made an attempt to sink in a little bit. It’s really hard to pray those big prayers, dream big with God, and allow Him to drop those God-sized dreams in your heart to build His Kingdom, and not get disillusioned waiting on His timing. It’s exciting to yield your mind, your heart, your schedule and plans to God’s purposes, but it feels dissatisfying, restless, and unfulfilling to wait, and wait, and wait.

If we are being honest here, it’s really hard to continue to wait expectantly, and joyfully, with increased faith when you see nothing new happening.

Psalm 5:3 says, “Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I lay my requests to You, and wait expectantly.”

The struggle and balance between laying down your life daily for God’s plans in your life and getting frustrated with waiting on God’s timing is real. We want to tell God what to do and when to do it (or at least I do). I do it all the time — not on purpose or with intentional disrespect — but it happens. As I was talking to God about all of this today (and maybe complaining a little), He led me to the book of Ecclesiastes to gently remind me that to everything there is a season in life. And He makes those seasons beautiful in His own timing. And not to get all worked up and impatient because He can actually handle it all and is, most definitely, still in charge of all my stuff.

The most interesting part of that passage in Ecclesiastes to me was the end of chapter 3, verse 15 that says, “God makes the same things happen over and over again.” I have read that before, but today it made a great impact. Nothing is new to God. Nothing is hard for God. He has done it all in the past before, and already knows what He is going to do in the future. He’s got it covered. Sure, its hard to wait, but I am learning (and will continue to have to learn this) to hold onto His mercies that are new every morning to guide me, and give me peace, patience, strength and grace when the waiting is hard.

And as I struggled with all of this today, God brought me full circle by reminding me that those who wait on the Lord shall be renewed in their strength (Isaiah 40:31) Funny how just talking to God a little while, dwelling in His presence and letting Him into our thought processes separates truth from feelings, and brings exactly the right Word at the right time.

“Lord, continually help me each morning to lay my requests out to you, and enable me to keep waiting expectantly with an open heart, full of faith, knowing You are working on our behalf. Help me to keep trusting fully that Your ways are best.”

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