Giving Up Things for God

Have you ever felt like God was telling you to do something, but you weren’t sure if it was Him, so you didn’t follow through? I have. In fact, I believe God is calling me to give up something, but I haven’t been willing to do it yet.

I believe God is calling me to let go of alcohol so that it doesn’t become a stronghold in my life, and so I don’t cause other people to stumble. The truth is that it’s not that difficult for me to obey most of the time, but I feel like He is saying to give up alcohol forever. FOREVER. It’s a big commitment.

Alcoholism is prevalent in my family of origin. I’ve indulged in my fair share of excessive drinking in the past. I gave up drinking when my husband and I started planning a family, but as my kids grew, I started drinking occasionally. I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with alcohol, but for some people, like myself, it can be a slippery slope toward dependency. Even now, there have been times when I’ve over-indulged in alcohol in the spirit of having fun or letting loose. Since I’m genetically predisposed to alcoholism, this is very dangerous. The Apostle Paul is on point when he says, “‘Everything is permissible for me’ — but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible for me’ — but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12). Alcohol is not bad, but it does not mean it’s good either.

Though I thought I heard from God about this, I find myself saying, are you sure God? Am I hearing you right? What are people going to think about me? It’s in this struggle that I feel like God is speaking some things that I would like to share.

Listen to the Whispers

It’s not fair for me to ask God to speak to me, but then doubt that I am hearing from Him when His will does not align with mine. If He told me to tell someone else to give up alcohol, you bet that I’d be calling them up on the phone so self-righteously delivering the news. Yet, when He is addressing me, it’s as if I turn into a child covering my ears, saying, “I’m not listening!”

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How many times have I have cried out to God to speak to me? Countless times I’ve prayed, “Just tell me what to do in this situation, God!” or dramatically quoted Psalm 83:1, “O God, do not keep silent; be not quiet, O God, be not still!” But do I listen when He says something that I don’t want to hear?

I feel like God is speaking to me that if I’m not willing to listen to His whispers that I am at risk of not hearing his voice at all. Why? Because what we focus on becomes the loudest voice. There are a lot of voices in the world competing for my attention.

Many times when I’m sitting across from someone carrying on a conversation, someone else’s voice catches my ear, and I start listening to them instead of the person across from me. I’ve had to make some embarrassing apologies to people for my rudeness! But it’s a lot like that with God. He tends to have a quiet voice that can easily be drowned out by much louder voices if I choose to turn my attention away from Him. When I listen to Him, I acknowledge His voice, and I become more accustomed to His voice.

I’ve found that God doesn’t usually speak to me in a loud, defined voice. Rather, it’s a gentle whisper. A nudge of the heart. This blog is a nudge of the heart. I believe God directed me to create this blog about my spiritual journey, so I’m here, stepping out in faith. He didn’t send an angel to me to start this blog. He didn’t send a person with a confirming word. Yet, I felt God led me here. Maybe this blog will never reach a single person, yet it is still an exercise of faith for me, and so it is beneficial.

I felt the same nudge to give up alcohol, but instead of jumping on the bandwagon, I feel doubt. What if I’m giving up something and this is not God?

Obedience is an Act of Faith

But it’s how I respond to a whisper about something small that will reflect how I will respond when He calls me to bigger and scarier things. Jesus said, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much” (Luke 16:10). If I take a leap of faith and listen now, I poise myself to be ready when He calls me to bigger things. This is a simple request that God is making, and now is not the time to doubt His voice. It’s simply time to say, “Okay, God. I trust you.”

I definitely feel convicted, not because I’m an awful person or because God is mad at me, I don’t believe either of those things are true. But when I don’t listen to God I’m telling Him with my actions that I trust my own judgment more than His.

I’m not a fair-weathered friend in real life, and I don’t want to be a fair-weathered believer in my spiritual life. How sad to only trust God if it’s something that I want to do! Even though I’m artistic and imaginative, I sure hope there is a better design for my life than what I can come up with! I believe that God has an awesome plan that I couldn’t even begin to comprehend. In order to see that, I need to trust Him. I need to obey him because that is trust in action.

Choose to Please God Over People

It’s hard for me to trust when I am afraid. I’m afraid of what other people will think. Some already think that I’m too religious and just need to let loose. I’m worried that this will be seen as yet another change that they can’t relate to. Relationships can feel so fragile when people resent changes that they see in me.

I worry that they will no longer love me, that they won’t find me interesting, that I won’t be relevant.

I asked God to show me where I still care about what other people think of me. It’s surprising to see that revelation here. The truth is that if I must alter my behavior to make someone else comfortable with me, then they don’t really love me. They love an image that I’ve created. Fear and codependency are my pitfalls, and I dig myself deeper into that pit if I engage in behavior with an intention of people-pleasing.

Instead, I need to choose to please God who loves me no matter where I’m at in life. In this world, people have a shaky and broken version of love. True love is impossible to earn. If you don’t believe me, ask the guy who created it. God gives love freely no matter what a person’s behavior is. That is the true model of love. If a person is offering love with strings attached, then it’s not modeled after God’s love. It’s a phony. A fake. A cheap imitation. I will never win by trying to earn love.

God’s love cannot be earned or altered with my good or bad behavior. He will never stop loving me. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

God give me the humility to listen to You – Your plans are higher

Tune my ear to Your whisper, turn my gaze towards you

Let me boldly obey despite what others may think

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