Strongholds Tumble When We Say “Yes” to God
This episode is all about how we can get to that tender place where we’re wanting, longing, happy to be soul-bared in front of our Lord. So… let’s catch up on the past few months shall we? And why it can be wise to wait to create, the role of obedience, reflections on new seasons coming with new temptations, a testimony on being moved to tears in the presence of God, and two questions to chew on: 1) Are we ready for God to change our worldview? 2) Are we ready for God to rip up even the most long-standing strongholds in our lives? Let’s end with a prayer of surrender (and for strength!).
New @yaypodcast episode: Strongholds Tumble When We Say “Yes” to God. Listen on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. Or read the transcript (and see some photos!) below.
This episode is all about how we can get to that tender place where we’re wanting, longing, happy to be soul-bared in front of our Lord.
The Past Few Months
So… it’s been awhile! The last episode was in February and I’ve thought about posting a new episode. But. There’s been a lot of learning going on.
February was very busy preparing for pitch competitions in March. Then March was really busy actually attending pitch competitions, pitching, and all the emotions that go along with sharing a God-dream with the world.
At the Toronto Redemptive Lab in Paris (credit: Centre for Redemptive Entrepreneurship, Tyndale)
And now it’s April, where I started the month at the very first Toronto Redemptive Lab for Christian founders which was put on by the Centre for Redemptive Entrepreneurship at Tyndale University in Toronto in partnership with Praxis, a New York-based organization that supports “founders, funders, and innovators motivated by their faith to address the major issues of our time” which was such an incredible experience. Honestly, there’s still much work to be done, conversations to follow-up on, and prayers to be prayed, and there’s much I hope to share takeaways and lessons learned about moving forward… but my cup runneth over. I feel really blessed to have been taken though these months… but I can say that today after spending about a week resting in the Lord. Before, I felt… dry!
Waiting to Create
As a creator there’s that balance between creating and resting. I don’t really create when I’m exhausted or spiritually dry, just to get something out. When I’m tired and thirsty, I just want to feel healthy again — sleeping, having extended bible reading time and worship sessions, more solitude… it makes such a difference. This morning, I had one of the sweetest sessions I’ve had with God in awhile. And boom — back to that place of wanting to shout from the rooftops about God’s goodness, hence this new episode, in hopes that we can encourage each other through the ‘realisticness’ of life while seeking to remain tender by soaking in God.
The Role of Obedience
I think today’s morning quiet time and worship session was extra special because I obeyed. More on that in a second. But first, just want to say that obviously we always try and obey God, right? It would be a terrible thing to willingly ignore what God is saying.
(Though no condemnation if you’re going through this right now, I’ve certainly been in seasons where I pretended I didn’t understand what God was saying because he didn’t explicitly tell me even though really he did in the Bible — if you are, a gentle e-hug to prayerfully wait on the Lord and surrender because it’s absolutely guaranteed that God’s love for you is great and he has the absolute best plan for restoration if you will go to him.)
But sometimes we don’t spend enough time with God to get to that place where we can really listen. It’s like a human relationship right. Maybe we have history with someone. We generally know what they’re like. And so we just spend 5 mins, 10 mins listening to them, remembering what they’re like. But it’s different when we actually sit down, look at them, listen deeply and converse back and forth. There’s no shortcut to building a strong relationship.
How did I obey today? First I woke up, remained in bed talking with God about some things that have been on my mind, when I felt a nudge that I should go to church. Yesterday, feeling tired, I told my mom that I didn’t want to go and wanted to stay at home and have a prayer session on my own. Then today, when I felt God say go, I honestly had that moment of
“Is this really you, God… aren’t you pleased if I just pray on my own… I have free will right, I can choose??”
But then I went downstairs, made my coffee, chatted with my mom… and then told her “I think God is saying go to church.” Her response? ‘Great! I wanted to tell you you should go yesterday.” A reminder that the Holy Spirit reaches his children — we don’t need to force someone to make a decision, but we can pray and trust that he knows how to reach his children best. :) Then after coffee, breakfast, bible reading, I started worshipping (to the Phil Wickham version of Christ is Risen on repeat) just… because I felt I really needed to.
New Seasons, New Temptations, New Growth
One thing I realized when I was going through my February/March busy season is that when I have a million to dos that seem never ending, it’s quite hard to slow down and pray and worship. My flesh really wanted to rely on coffee and upbeat music and socializing and other things that are fine on their own but problematic when we’re using them to numb and get through things rather than relying on God. I was reminded that we’re always tempted. In every season. Even if we’re having an amazingly intimate season with God… when the season changes, there will be new temptations. God knows, the Bible says, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing right. God promises he will never let us be tempted beyond what we can bear BUT that he will always provide a way out.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
During these busy months, it’s not that I stopped reading my bible, praying or worshipping. But it was more difficult to stay in his presence. To surrender and be totally honest with God about my hopes, dreams, and fears. To be in that position to listen to whatever God wanted to say and be willing to obey. Do you ever feel that — like we’re always ready for God to encourage us and speak blessings and build us up? But he also shows us areas that need pruning and surrendering and releasing — and when we know we’re in a stressed out, self-reliant state, doing this can be hard so… we just put it off?
With new faith-filled Christian entrepreneur friends at the Lab :)
Anyways, praise God for his mercy. May we not put things off on purpose — we’re not promised tomorrow and we are not to put God to the test. And during this period, I felt God remind me that he knew I was giving him my best even though I was very aware that my best felt like leftover pieces. And I felt so humbled and loved, and because of this felt so comfortable, again, to seek God more.
Moved to Tears in God’s Presence
Right now I’m on the last day of our April break and getting to this place where I feel rested has involved a lot of praying and seeking and processing. And just a reminder that we don’t always have to produce something tangible — spend our breaks creating something that people see. Praying and just being with God is so much more enriching than we could possibly know. And I’m definitely in the ‘we shall see, right God?’ stage in processing some new God clues.
This week of rest, reading in the backyard :)
Today’s fresh surrender had me in tears. It’s been ages since I’ve cried during my quiet time. The kind of tears where you just feel the Spirit moving and you know your heart is unusually tender and eventually I was just asking God:
Change me into who you want me to be, Lord. Make me more like you… no matter what. I trust you with my life.
I’ve been praying a lot about life after graduation and what it will look like. I’ve made some plans, but always share them with the caveat that God is welcome to rip those up and redirect me whenever he chooses. And sometimes, I laugh because… oh what an adventure could be in store right? And sometimes perhaps God has us consider things that totally shake up our worldview — how we see the world, ourselves, our hopes and dreams and ambitions. Like Paul, could we radically change our lives and pursue a totally new path if God says so?
Two Questions for Us
1. Are we ready for God to change our worldview?
While I was at the Toronto Redemptive Lab, I learned about a movement called Move In, which coincidentally was started by an alumnus from my university. Their vision is to see the church living among the poor, among unreached people groups and living in urban locations.
From the Move In Global website
There are two requirements, I’m pulling these notes from the show notes of a podcast interview that the founder Nigel did with the Global Missions Podcast:
Move In-ers need to move into a small area that they call a patch that is unreached, urban and poor.
They pray together as a team of regular people for God’s transformation in and through that community.
The patches are intentionally small – many patches are 500x500 metres, so when people ‘move in’ they know exactly who they are praying for and where they desire to see God at work.
And so this morning, I was wondering why I can’t stop thinking about this movement.
A few days ago, I was reading 1 Corinthians 12 this week and was reminded of how Christ’s body has many members and God arranged the members in the body as he chose. And I know this and, for example, the church I currently attend shares the building with another church, and the other church has been sharing photos and prayer requests from their recent global mission trips. I’ve been reading through them in detail the past few weeks — and honestly felt like, ‘You go, it’s so awesome to learn about how God is moving in these communities, there’s a lot of need, amazing that God is leading people from this church to pray and support in this way, etc.’ For me, I feel really passionate about some areas like women’s ministry. But there are other areas that I just don’t feel a tug towards. It’s like that for all of us, isn’t it? We feel called to some areas, think it’s cool to learn about others called to different areas, and have confidence that God is knitting things together in his way, and then we move on.
What happens when you feel pulled to an area that you never considered? That would, not to sound super dramatic, but would kind of shake the way you’ve been building your life and see yourself?
2. Are we ready for God to rip up (even the most long-standing) strongholds in our lives?
When I was learning about Move In at the Lab — and honestly I think my jaw dropped I was so shocked that young, attractive people with good jobs would actively choose to live in low income neighbourhoods for years and deprioritize luxuries in order to have more resources to share with those in need — someone joked with me like, ‘Oh you never know, that guy over there also thought it was a crazy idea too like ‘who would ever do that?’ and then he ended up doing it… maybe you’ll do it too’ and my response was like… ‘Unlikely! I think it’s amazing but uh…’
And since then, I keep thinking about it which has turned into praying about it. Not about literally moving in. But just sitting with God and asking him, “Lord, why? What is happening? Why do I feel so drawn to learning about this movement? It is such an unlikely area for me to feel drawn to… and I didn’t feel drawn to the international missions board at all. What are you trying to show me — to say?”
And my thoughts went here and there as I prayed. And I thought about how I’ve always loved fashion. But then after a childhood bullying incident over shoes developed a fear of rejection that, coupled with that love for fashion, had me over-focusing on developing my sense of style and acquiring material goods. And then moving to Hong Kong, which is a very fashion-forward material goods-focused society, sort of compounded my acquisition of material goods. And then I moved back to Canada and my friends are absolutely wonderful and not materialistic and I’ve barely used any of the designer bags, shoes and clothes that I spent so much time and money to acquire and… if I ever did ‘Move In’ in some way, none of it would be suitable to use… and then do I give it away? Even if I don’t ‘Move In’, I could still give it away? Is that necessary? Who am I if I don’t want these things anymore… do I really want to live more simply? Whenever I pray about my future home, I pray for a really nice one — what if you’re saying something else, God? But I don’t want that… do I??? No…
A Prayer of Surrender (And for Strength)
So you see… God is a great listener haha. And the nearing the end of my prayer session, I also said to God:
Do what you want with my life, Lord. I want to say… I’ll do anything. Help my heart get to where I can say this with total ‘all in’ confidence.
And then I processed some more. Because what’s our alternative, friends? To say, “No, Lord, I don’t want to do what you say. I don’t want you to do whatever you want with my life — I think I know better. I don’t want to go ‘all in’ with you.’
Honestly it can be kind of scary right. When we look at our favourite Bible figures, did anyone have a cookie cutter smooth life? So many people were asked to leave their comfort zones and then rely on God in faith for years without seeing the promise until one day they did.
So I hope this ‘life right now’ kind of episode is useful. Sometimes we definitely do look back after overcoming a challenge or test and have some neat, orderly takeaways. But so much of life is this ‘Lord, help me hear you clearly and obey’ kind of stage. Where we’re sensing clues and have no idea what the outcome will be. And that’s cool isn’t it? As we walk in faith, hand in hand with our Lord, the best we can knowing his grace is sufficient for us, his Holy Spirit is making us more like him. We don’t need to figure out exactly where God is taking us and the final result. But I pray that when we sense God challenging us, we don’t ignore him but we do the work, we spend time with him, so the end result is not our current status quo but… that we go wherever he wants us to go.
Let Us Pray
Lord, whatever the test, whatever the cost, help us want to be more like you. Help us understand more and more deeply what a privilege it is to live for you *now* — to be your hands and feet to carry out your will. How small we are in comparison to your beauty and might — may we never consider ourselves to be God! We humble ourselves before you and ask for greater courage to surrender. Use us to encourage each other to love you wholeheartedly. You are our light and salvation — whom shall we fear? You are the stronghold of our lives — of whom shall we be afraid? Help us roar like lions for you. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.