Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What Happens After We Say "Yes" To God?

(Read Jonah 3: 1-5, 10 and Mark 1:14-20)

Do you ever feel stuck? Like you aren’t moving forward in any positive direction? Uninspired? Unmotivated? In a funk, we might say.

In the dead of winter, this can happen to us. Whether its actually the dead of winter, like in the months of January and February, or if we find ourselves in the dead of winter in our souls.

I know I do, but the blah days don’t have feel like the end of the world or like we’re failing in the game of life. They can just be taken in stride. The blah days are the days we treat ourselves to watching movies, eating cupcakes and taking naps, enjoying the simple pleasures of being human.

Life is a journey and a process. The beginning of the journey is when we say “yes” to God. Jesus comes to all of us and says, “Follow me.” And when we reply, “yes,” our lives head off in new directions. The disciples went from being fishermen to fishers of men, and Jonah, after he said, “yes,” went from the belly of a whale to Ninevah to proclaim the message of God. It is in saying “Yes” to God’s call that we find our lives expanding and ourselves transforming. It is in saying “yes” to God’s call that we live into our highest callings.

But this doesn’t happen overnight. What does happen overnight is a great deal of trial, of testing, of wrestling within ourselves and with God. That’s because where we are at and where God is taking us is a journey of the soul.

Think of a caterpillar on its way to becoming a butterfly. It must go through a process of metamorphosis. The caterpillar needs to wrap itself up tightly in a cocoon and allow itself to be changed.

The soul’s journey is no different. If God is calling you to change a way you think or act, you must go through the events and have the realizations that will bring you to a new place. What feels like blah days, what feels like being stuck, might actually be your own process of metamorphosis.

I also like the image of a mother who is pregnant, waiting to give birth to her child. For nine months, she is in a process called gestation. The time is necessary for the baby to develop so that when it is born it can live and thrive in this new world. Our souls also go through periods of gestation. As the Holy Spirit is actively working to sanctify us, we might feel as though we are just waiting around, being unproductive and not moving forward, but in truth, we are making advances in our development, it just takes time.

And here’s the thing, the process that we are going through, the time of metamorphosis, gestation, transition is not something you can force. It happens when the time is right and for as long as is necessary.

This can be one of the most frustrating aspects of the spiritual journey if we don’t understand what is happening because internally we feel conflict. We feel like we are stuck and changing at the same time. We long for some resolution or advancement that is not happening quickly enough.

But, if we recognize that what we are feeling and thinking is normal, if we know that what we are hoping for will in fact happen in its own due process, than we can relax into this stage of our journey. It is preparing us for the greatness to come. I now know that everything I’ve been though I needed to go through to get to that next step, and the same is true for every soul.

Think about actors or musicians who hit it big when they are only kids or teenagers, Drew Barrymore, Brittany Spears, Lindsay Lohan, River Phoenix. These people aren’t ready for their success and they inevitably can’t handle their reality and destruct. When we try to force our growth or be someone that we haven’t yet become, we too aren’t ready for the work that God gives to us. We find ourselves in the limelight without the right words to share. We find ourselves in the job without the skills necessary to complete the tasks required.

But if we are wise, if we allow for the process of maturation and give ourselves the time needed, then when we finally do burst forth, we are ready for it. We are like George Clooney acting and producing film after film of Academy Award caliber. Or author Steven Pressfield who went from being unable to write 10 pages in a six month period to someone who churns out bestseller after bestseller.

While we cannot force the timing of our evolution, we can play a part in our own development. One thing we can do I’ve already mentioned, and that’s trusting the process. Another thing we can do is take one step forward each time we are ready. The journey of a 1000 miles starts with one step. And then another step. And another step. And another. And another. Until one day, we find ourselves in the place we always wanted to reach. Having a willing attitude will make us co-creators with God in order to live into our highest callings.

What happens after we say “Yes” to God?

The journey truly begins. We find happiness in the process. There will be days, weeks, months, hopefully not years, that seem like a waste, but don’t panic. These are actually times of metamorphosis and gestation. When the time is full, we will soar like a butterfly.

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