October 31, 2013
I Know How to Manipulate
"The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." Isaiah 58:11 (NIV)
Just because something great happens doesn't mean it is from God. I know this is true because I know how to manipulate and make great things happen.
Honestly, I hate that word—manipulate. It rubs something rough and grainy into the softer places of my heart.
But there it is. And I know it. Because sometimes I do it. I manipulate.
I know how to sell an idea.
I know how to go the extra mile.
I know how to strategize to make my plan seem like a wonderful strategy.
And not that any of this is intrinsically bad. Some of these things are qualities God can certainly use in good ways.
But what if I use these skills and talents outside God's will? To push past God's timing, God's direction, God's plan to teach me stuff in the process?
Sometimes I think He lets us push past His better plan to experience the consequences of our headstrong attitude. Boy, do I know all about that. I've jumped headfirst into something I thought I wanted, only to find extreme stress, fear, anxiety, and an overwhelming sense of regret.
It's great to know how to sell an idea. But it's not great to do it outside God's will.
It's great to go the extra mile. But it's not great to do it out of a desire to secure what I want—rather than out of a desire to serve another.
It's great to strategize and have a plan. But it's not great if that plan stretches me so I seek my desires more than God's desires.
I am learning to not always push so hard. Or run so fast. Or allow my personal desires to overtake waiting on God.
Recently I had the opportunity to be considered for something huge. And I knew how to secure it.
I knew the words I could use to sell my idea. I knew I could go the extra mile with my pitch and look impressive. I knew a strategy that could be implemented and the plan to propose.
But what I didn't know is if this was God's plan or my desire.
If I knew for sure it was God's plan, all my efforts wouldn't be manipulation—they'd be smart. But I didn't know.
Therefore, all my pushing and plotting were manipulation. So, I stopped, backed off, and stepped aside.
And then I doubted. It was hard to watch the opportunity slip away. But I reminded myself that this was a place where my trust in God had to step in. This was one of those times a deeper faith could be found. And so I trusted in the truth of Isaiah 58:11, "The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."
Now, I can rest in the assurance that if something is to be, it isn't up to me. It's up to God. It's not that I just sit back and don't pursue things. I do. But, I give what I can give without manipulation. And then wait for God to give what only He can give. So, if He makes it happen without all my chaotic self-effort, then I will know it is His best.
And if it doesn't happen, I will thank Him for saving me from myself.
Dear Lord, I am so grateful for Your everlasting love and vision for my life. Help me to embrace the fact that Your plans are greater than mine. Humble my heart in the moments when I try to maintain control so that I can fully serve You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Sometimes it's easier to follow our gut-response, rather than wait on God's direction. In her book Unglued, Lysa TerKeurst shares great wisdom on embracing God's ways, not ours. Click here to purchase a copy.
Reflect and Respond:
Do you ever catch yourself manipulating past God's plans to secure your own desire?
God wants you to give up your own agenda and trust in His plans for your life! Set aside some time every day to reflect on Bible verses dedicated to this particular issue. Having this daily reminder of God's sovereignty will help you to recognize when your own desires are taking precedence over His will.
Psalm 9:10, "Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you." (NIV)
Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." (NIV)
© 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.