One of the blessings of decision-making on a sacred pace is that there’s a definite end in sight — an answer awaits you somewhere down the road. Plus, you receive the gifts that your Father in Heaven wants to bless you with. Yet I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t also speak to how painful this process often is.
Most of the best things in life are painful to some degree. But the struggle makes the victory that much greater.
Why do we exercise three to four times a week or stay married when we’re fighting with our spouse? Because we realize that pain has its benefits — we are healthier, stronger, closer to others for the effort. In getting neutral as in the rest of life: no pain, no gain!
To accept that pain can be a blessing was a lasting lesson from my burnout and something that is absolutely essential to opening yourself to the Lord’s will. I know in my soul that I won’t usually get more whole without pain. On some level, I think we all know it in our heads, but pushing to get this conviction deep within, where God can change us? That’s the challenge.
You don’t typically learn your true feelings and deepest desires just because you want to; they are revealed once you’ve faced the truths you tend to hide from. Especially if you push the limits like I did for so long, you may sometimes have to soak in your pain for a while before God retrieves you from those waters. Thankfully, He really does only allow as much struggle as is necessary to bring us to the place of surrender, the place of peace and clarity that we most long for — and which abiding by a sacred pace allows us to reach.
The Secret Things of God
The Bible says, “The mind governed by the flesh is death”; it is “hostile to God.” Thus, “those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:6-8). The “acts of the flesh” that keep us from God’s greatest gifts include not just sexual immorality and drunkenness, but “hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy” (Galatians 5:19-21). Elsewhere, Scripture describes those deathly desires as “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16).
So is it any surprise that greed, pride, and fear are what pressure us when we’re letting our flesh have the final say? Frankly, that’s where most of us spend most of our time as people born with a sin nature. But there’s another voice inside of anyone who has received a new nature through Jesus Christ. It’s the voice of the Spirit of God — and He rarely shouts. His voice resonates in our deepest self, and He has one theme: to reveal the heart and will and mind of God, so that you experience the abundant life and peace that Jesus promised those who are devoted to Him (Romans 8:6).
Human nature is to run with the answer we can explain, to go with the loud voice of consensus versus the lone whisper within, and to speed ahead with the solution that makes sense to our minds, our training, our background and experience (in other words, our “understanding”). “Don’t listen to your self-nature,” wrote Archbishop Fenelon. “Self-love whispers in one ear and God whispers in the other. The first is restless, bold, eager, and reckless. The other is simple, peaceful, and speaks but a few words in a mild, gentle voice.”1
This is a very profound truth, but it is also essential to ultimately discerning what God wants you to do: if you starve the lust of the flesh, your heart will start yearning to be satisfied. That yearning is your true desire — and God’s delight. That’s what you want to lock into and figure out. And that’s exactly what the Spirit wants to show you and reward you with if you will be patient and let Him do what He does best.
But you have to make a conscious decision: will you feed your greed or the desires of God?
Like a hungry infant, our greed will always take whatever it can get — it just wants to be fed. And if we feed it and wait five minutes, it will either want more, or it will demand something different to make it happy. When our heart’s desires are met, we are truly satisfied, and the contentment lasts.
- Francois Fenelon, The Seeking Heart, Library of Spiritual Classics vol. 4 (Sargent, GA: SeedSowers, 1992), 52.
Excerpted with permission from Sacred Pace by Terry Looper, copyright Terry Looper.
* * *
Are you listening to the gentle voice of God? The pain of growing spiritually, or denying self in order to follow what God wants us to do may be painful, but it is so worth it! Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily