Earlier in the year, I began reading the stories of the Old Testament characters. There was Terah, Abraham’s dad, who ‘settled’ when he could have been moving on; Abraham, who believed God and stepped out into the unknown; Jacob, a real ‘a piece of work’ but still loved by God; and Elijah, who knew God’s miraculous provision when he could have given way to real fear.
God really challenged me when I was reading, and I’d like to share some of that with you.
In Genesis 11 we read of Terah, the father of Abraham. It appears he started to ‘move on’ but something caused him to ‘settle’. And yet, when he died, it seemed to release his son to move on towards something that God was calling him into. It was quite a step of faith, into the unknown.
One evening I was thinking about the events of the previous year. I’d lost a friendship that was very important to me, although I knew it was time to put that friendship down. My life felt as if it was ‘changing’. I felt God challenging me: ‘Do you want to settle? Or do you want to move on?’
It’s a bit question and one I think we can’t answer lightly. But… yes, Lord, if it’s You, then of course, I want to move on. Whatever that means. Help me. Shut doors, open doors… over to You, Lord. Your will be done. I’m Yours.
Then what I’d be reading about Jacob came to my mind. He lied to his father, he conned his brother, he had favourites… Yet God really loved him, and Jacob was privileged to have ‘God encounters’. I’d struggled with unforgiveness for a while, to be honest, but it was as if God said to me, ‘Look what I’ve forgiven you for. Don’t you think you should forgive, too?’ I saw myself for what I was. Thank God when we know Jesus we are covered in His robe of righteousness (see 1 Corinthians 1:30) – we have none of our own!
I thought, well, if God loved and used someone like Jacob, He can use me too. Father, You have saved me out of Your love for me, not because I have done anything to deserve it. Help me to let go. When I still struggle, give me the ability to forgive as You forgave me. I can only do it in Your strength, Lord. But as I let go of the past, I believe You will move me on. I can’t hold on to what’s gone and move forward as well!
I thought, well, if God loved and used someone like Jacob, He can use me too.
When God does seem to be answering prayer and moving us on, it can be a rather scary place to be. Shortly afterwards, feeling rather anxious, I spent some time at the Augustinian priory in Suffolk where I occasionally go on retreat days. There is a newly built chapel there with a glass wall. You could be mistaken for thinking there was no wall at all; that you could just walk out into the beautiful grounds. Suddenly I imagined a lion prowling outside, roaring, slinging himself against the glass. But for all his trying, he could not get to me. And the Lord said: ‘Remember whose you are.’ I could go and hide, or I could stare the lion in the face. If I hid, the lion might find that amusing because he knew perfectly well he could only scare me with his roar – he couldn’t touch me. (By the way, I am not thinking of the lion as a lion per se. More, the enemy; see 1 Peter 5:8.)
When God does seem to be answering prayer and moving us on, it can be a rather scary place to be.
Later, reading about Elijah, and how God provided for him so wonderfully, I knew that I had to trust God with my situation; that I had to walk in faith and believe that He would never leave me, as He has promised. True, I might wander off the path at times, but God, like the very best SatNav, nudges me to do a U-turn, to take the next exit off that road, and, as I follow in obedience, leads me to the right destination.
So, I feel as if I am on the start of a new journey in 2017. My aim is to hear from God and to stay on the right path. I know, like Jacob, I’ll get it wrong at times. But I want to be an Abraham, not a Terah, and move on into the future God has for me. I believe God loves me, and has a plan for me. Do you believe that, for yourself? If so, is there anything holding you back from walking forward with God? Unforgiveness binds you to the past; forgiving someone doesn’t let the other person ‘off the hook’, it lets us off the hook! If we are full of bitterness and resentment, how can we fix our eyes on Jesus and let His Spirit flow through us to other people?
Maybe what stops you moving on with God is anxiety; well, remember whose you are. If you are hearing the voice of the Spirit telling you to do a U-turn, make sure you obey Him! He knows best – and He LOVES you. Do you believe that? If He is asking you to do a hard thing, check it with Scripture (He won’t go against His Word) and do what He says so you can walk forward into what He has planned for you.
When we give our lives to Jesus, we are His. We are not our own (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). The most important thing in life is not our job, or our relationships with others, or even with a significant other. The most important thing in life is to find Jesus, and to follow Him – wherever He leads.
This spring, a time of new beginnings, why not give yourself a spiritual check-over, to see where you are really at with God? It might be one of the best things you have ever done!
Sheila Jacobs © 2017
Sheila Jacobs is a writer, editor, and award-winning author. Single, she is currently serving as a deacon in her church, Elim Braintree. She loves the countryside, dogs, traction engines, and time spent with friends.