I’ve been blessed with a creative mind. My thoughts often come fast and furious.
A lot of them are pretty good — if I do say so myself.
But over the years, I’ve noticed something. As I pursued some of these ideas, they didn’t work out so well. I’d burn out in my quest to implement them. I’d start out strong, but lose momentum, so they eventually withered up and died.
And I’d feel like a failure.
Other times, I’d been able to see the idea through to completion. It would often produce good things. But even then, I didn’t experience much joy in the journey. In the end, instead of feeling fulfilled and accomplished, I’d feel empty and burned out.
I’d renew my resolve and chase another idea. This time I’d work harder. This time I’d get right.
Over the years, I wondered over and over again, Why? Why does it seem like all these good ideas are exhausting trails to disappointment?
Finally, in just the last few months, I was ready to hear the answer. And it wasn’t what I expected.
God didn’t say, “Because you’re not working hard enough, Melinda.” or “You’re not supposed to find joy. These ideas are work!” or “You’re not doing it right.”
As irrational as it sounds, that is what I often thought He was saying to me.
This time, though, I heard two little grace-filled words: Follow Me.
Two simple words that have changed everything for me.
I realized that I was following good ideas instead of following God. I was telling Him my ideas instead of letting Him tell me His. When I did have a “God idea” I’d often turn it into a “good idea” by pursuing them my way and on my timetable.
Now I’m actually afraid of good ideas. Because good ideas are things we dream up and/or try to execute on our own power. Sometimes we try to copy or are inspired by the ideas of other people without considering if maybe God wants to do something different in our lives.
Sure, we may invite God along for the journey, but we’re in charge.
In the end, chasing after our brilliant brainchilds burn us out and keep us from greater effectiveness. Our focus is on ourselves and our abilities. We act like it all begins and ends with us.
The biggest tragedy by far, though, is that we miss out on the incredible sweetness, creativity, adventure and joy of letting God run the show. Giving Him control of coming up with the ideas and leading the journey is the most joyful, sweet and freeing thing I have ever done!
As I’m learning to keep my eyes on Jesus, I’m taking the time to wait and ask, “Is this Your idea or mine?” I wait until I get clarity from Him. Then, I begin to follow Him and He makes incredible things happen.
But how do we know how to follow? How do we know if it’s a good idea or a God idea? Here’s a few things I’m discovering about how to tell the difference:
We don’t make it happen. We watch it unfold.
About three years ago, I felt God wanted to bring the women of our local churches together. It was definitely a God idea. But I quickly turned it into a good idea.
I didn’t bother to ask Him how He wanted me to do it. I didn’t even remember asking Him for His help. Instead I tried to execute my plan to do this. Big, fat failure. Nothing really took off. And I pushed the idea to the side.
Then, not too long ago, I got a message from a new women’s director at another church. The more we talked, we realized we knew each other from years ago.
We began to share our hearts and vision for bringing women in our area churches together. I sensed God was in this. We both did.
We started meeting for monthly lunches to talk about how we could support each other. We waited to see how God would work. Soon He brought a couple of other women’s leaders from other churches to join us. Where would we begin though? We all believed prayer was a start that God was approve of.
So we began holding bimonthly “Prayer Nights” for women of our churches to come together. These have been extremely powerful and more churches continue to come on board.
In 2018, our churches, as well as a number of others in our area, are banding together to bring the national Fresh Grounded Faith Conference to our broken community.
I’m not sure exactly how this happened. God just kept opening doors and confirming things. We open the door for Him to work when we become more in tune with looking for His activity then trying to generate our own. When we look for His activity and take a small step in the His direction, God begins to make big things happen. That’s how it works when He’s in charge.
We’re energized instead of exhausted.
I’ve had so much passion for God and for my good ideas. I have run myself ragged to the point of physical pain and burnout. I didn’t understand the verse, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” In fact, I told God numerous times, “Your yoke is not easy and your burden is not light!” (Matt. 11:30) Yep. I called God a liar. And lived to tell about it. I felt the “good” ideas — ones I was just sure He wanted me to do — were crushing me.
If only I had focused on the verse just before verse 30: “Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
If I had only let God teach me His way, followed His path, His ideas, I would have found rest even in the journey. Because when we’re pursuing God’s ideas, His power and blessing go with us. Is it still work? Yes. But it’s similar to a good workout. Afterwards, you may be exhausted, but you’re also energized. You feel healthier and better off for having done it.
God is not a Taskmaster. I’ve viewed Him that way for most of my life. No, He is “humble and gentle at heart.” He’s not behind us, cracking the whip. He in front of us, leading us by the hand. If only we’ll let Him.
It draws us closer to Him.
As I shared in an earlier post, I was so excited when my first book came out a couple of years ago. Do I think Mothering from Scratch was a God idea? I do. At least, I believe it started out that way. However, somewhere along the way I turned Mothering from Scratch into a good idea.
I thought it was all up to me to make it a “success.” I defined what “success” looked like. I worked myself silly promoting the blog and book on social media, speaking engagements, writing. And yet I often felt little joy in those activities. Why? Because most of them weren’t led by me, not God.
A God idea is something that is all about Him. We don’t have to dream it up. He gives us the idea and it just seems to fit what He’s already doing in our lives. It’s something we can’t accomplish on our own. We live in humble dependence on Him and His leading. The closer we are to Him, the more His power and blessing go with us.
Good ideas are propelled by our limited human resources.
God ideas are propelled by the Creator of the Universe who possesses unlimited supplies of energy, creativity and wisdom.
Letting Him be in charge? Sounds like a God idea to me.