My wife and I are considering building a house. We have found a possible spot of land. We have a home design that we really like. It would allow us to do several things that would both simplify our lives and allow for us to have the ability to serve others more consistently in various ministry ideas that we have had. Seems like a no brainer.
We have talked for a while about wanting to downsize. We would love to get into a smaller house. The idea of getting rid of the majority of our “stuff” sounds nice. Over the last couple years we have started to let go of many of the things, that for some reason, we just had to have at some point in our lives. To be clear, my wife has been pretty good at that for a long time now, I am just catching up to her. The idea of lowering our cost of living is amazing. I love the idea of being able to give more of my finances and my time to people. In all of this there really isn’t a downside to our idea.
So why haven’t we done it yet? Good question.
Sometimes I can see things that seem so perfect that I can’t imagine them being anything but from God. I think about the opportunity in front of me and I reach out and I seem to find that my reach is just two inches too short. It’s so close I can taste it. I can see it perfectly in my mind. But it is just out of reach. And then I get so frustrated that I can’t reach it that I think that there is no way that it is from God and I get mad at myself for even wanting it in the first place. My mental health exacerbates this problem and it often makes me want to give up on God. I can feel like God is mad at me. I feel as if God has abandoned me. I feel like I am just a huge disappointment to Him.
Why do I do this?
I think there are several reasons. Some reasons are good; having a desire to help others for instance. Some reasons are not so pure, such as greed or pride. I often times don’t know the reason until after the fact when God shows me what my motivations were. But one thing I have found is that each time I go through this I learn something. Usually in reference to my character.
I don’t believe God desires for us to never want for things. I think God just doesn’t desire for us to want the wrong things. For myself, I have found that I am a very slow learner when it comes to what God has for my life and what He doesn’t. I do take comfort in knowing that I am not alone in this.
Genesis 3:6 “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,[b] she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”
Eve looked at the tree and saw that it was good for food and a delight to the eyes. Just because something is good doesn’t mean that it is good FOR ME. There are a lot of things in life that look good on the surface. Those ideas that “seemed so good at the time.”
I am not saying this house idea of mine is one of those things. God also wants us to dream. He wants us to have goals. He just wants us to learn which ones of those come from Him so we can weed out the ones that come from an unhealthy place.
So how do we do this? Here are a few tips to getting started.
- Pray. If you want to be able to recognize God’s voice you need to talk to Him. Just like when a good friend calls on the phone. You recognize them by their voice. Good friends don’t need to introduce themselves, you know them by their “Hello.” God wants you to know Him that way as well, so develop a habit of talking to Him and then waiting to hear His voice.
- Humble yourself. If you are aware of the fact that you are not perfect and are fully capable of making mistakes, then you are much less likely to rush into decisions. It is real easy to say that something is so perfect it “has to be a God thing.” But did I ask God if it was His thing? If we ignore our ability to make mistakes then we assume we are above making them. No one is perfect.
- Wait. People in recovery love to quote Jeremiah 29:11 “11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” But remember verse right before that one “10 For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.” They would have to wait 70 years to see that promise come to pass. Just because something is coming from God doesn’t mean you are the one to say when it comes. If you don’t know then don’t rush into anything.
- Do the next right thing. Sometimes the path isn’t very clear. I don’t know yet if this house thing is where we should be going but I haven’t been told by God not to either. So while I wait I take the next right step. This is often called “Active Waiting” It’s not fully committing but it is not sitting around waiting for God to drop it in your lap. I would love to go to my mailbox and find a check for $150k sitting there. But I am guessing I will need to work with a bank. So I will start to talk to a banker to see where things sit.
- Learn from mistakes. I may not get this right. I like to think I will but I might not. The problem doesn’t necessarily come when house plans fall through and I get bummed out for a while. The problem comes when I don’t learn from my mistakes. I need to keep growing, not get everything perfect.
- Try again. As discouraging as it can be when our dreams don’t come true. That doesn’t mean we should quit trying. God is a big God. He can do anything. Don’t let disappointment limit your idea of how big God is.
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
National Director of Mental Health for Celebrate Recovery