Becoming a woman who unashamedly says yes to God is going to cause you to be different from many of your family members and friends. You will examine life’s circumstances with a different outlook. You will perceive things with different expectations. You will understand that just because life is busy doesn’t mean you have to rush about without God. You understand your responsibility is to obey God and He will handle the outcome. When you start to fret or worry, you know how to get swept into God’s assurance rather than swept away in fear. You will rely on a strength and power that simply does not make sense to most people.
While not all of your friends and family will be naysayers, some will. The difference naysayers see in you compels them to come against you full force because Christ working through you will sometimes step on the toes of their consciences. While naysayers may talk a good Christian game, they deny Christ in their attitudes and actions toward others. Instead of allowing those feelings of conviction to produce good changes in them, they seek to discourage you in hopes of hushing Christ in you.
It’s not easy to keep their negativity from being discouraging, but as my husband always reminds me, “Lysa, consider the source.” I ask myself, “Is this person criticizing me active in pursuing a relationship with the Lord? Is this person answering God’s call on his life, producing the evidence of Christ’s fruit? Does he have my best interest in mind?” The answers are almost always no. So I look for any truth that might be in what this person has said, forgive him for any hurt he may have caused, and let the rest go.
What about when the person causing the hurt and becoming a source of discouragement is a strong believer?
Even strong believers pursuing God can get pulled into ungodly attitudes. If only people had flashing signs above their heads that gave the warning when they were operating in the flesh instead of the Spirit. A wise friend once gave me a real nugget of truth that I think about often. She warned me as I stepped out and determined to say yes to God in all things, “Never let others’ compliments go to your head or their criticisms go to your heart.”
The Foes of Grace
Grace for the journey…we all need it. God is the only one we should be living for, and we need His grace to handle the successes and the failures, the applause and the criticism, and everything in-between. Sometimes our efforts will be fruitful and other times fruitless. But as long as we please God, it’s all for good.
Grace has two fierce foes, though—acceptance and rejection. Imagine, for a moment, a tall, gated wall. Puddles of mud dot the well‑worn, barren ground. It is evident that many have lingered here. Two gatekeepers wish to detain you. They wish to take your hand in friendship and have you remain on the outside of the wall. All the while, Jesus is standing on the other side of the wall in an open field full of beauty and adventure. So few have actually made it past the gatekeepers into this field that the blades of grass remain unbroken and the flowers unpicked.
The first gatekeeper is Acceptance. He requires much of me. He seems so enticing with his offerings of compliments and big promises. But though he is fun for a moment, soon my mind is flooded with concerns of being able to continue to impress him. I am quickly overwhelmed with pondering my interactions with others and keeping my score on the table of comparison.
The second gatekeeper is Rejection. He also requires much of me. He seems appealing because he gives me permission to excuse myself from following my true calling. Yet he demands that I pull back and shy away from the obedience for which my soul longs. His whispered questions of “What if ?” and “What do they think of you?” linger in my mind and influence my actions and reactions.
How do I deny the lure of these two gatekeepers of grace? After all, I’ve tasted their laced fruit and, though I’m aware of their poison, I also crave their sweetness. In my flesh I desire the praises of acceptance and the excuses of rejection.
The limelight of Acceptance shines on the pride that has yet to be driven from my heart. The thought that I am really something denies the reality that, but for the grace of Christ, I am nothing. The ease of settling for less is the pull of Rejection.
When I listen to him, I shrink back and pull inside myself. I no longer want to press on. I want to quit. The thought that I am really nothing eclipses the reality that, because of the grace of Christ in me, I am a treasured something.
So goes the battle in my heart. Honestly, it sickens me that I even give thought to and feel enticed by these life-draining agents of Satan. Jesus is standing behind these two slick gatekeepers. His arms are open, waiting to embrace and enfold me in the security of His truth. His truth is that I am precious and accepted, no matter what.
No matter what choices I make, His love is not based on my performance. His love is based on His perfect surrender at the cross. But, I must choose to accept this love and walk this truth for it to make a difference in how I journey through life.