Recently I have been struggling with mind games. I’m sure I’m not the only one who struggles with things coming into the thought arena. It’s been said that the mind is the devil’s playground. And it’s true.
In Positioned for Grace – Part I, I mentioned my coming into the knowledge and appreciation of God’s grace. However, as much as I understand grace, there were still times that thoughts came to mind like, “Do you know what you did? How can you possibly be standing on this stage right now?”
For a long time my mind-reply would be: “I’m sorry God; I’ll do better.” This led to my repenting for sins committed many years earlier – and I would repent over and over again. Even though I knew I was secure in my salvation, I still felt condemned for my actions.
The devil wants you to feel condemned, because as I said earlier it frustrates you and takes you away from your worship of God. The devil will use any tactic he can to frustrate you.
But the scripture tells us that “Our sins are cast into the sea of forgetfulness.” (Micah 7:19) He remembers our sin no more. God forgets our sins, so it can’t be Him who is condemning us.
I continued to grow in this understanding of grace. I know that I am in my present position as a youth pastor because Father God loves me and this is my call. There is nothing I can do to keep or lose my call – it’s all in His hands. I may derail myself for awhile but I can’t lose my calling.
And God never reminds me of, or condemns me for, my past. This is a mind game from somewhere else that keeps me from my worship.
Just recently a deeper form of grace was revealed to me. I have for many years struggled in the area of friendships. I don’t feel I fit the role of a typical pastor; I do better making friends with a gang member then with another pastor. Recently, however, I have had a fresh desire to have true pastor friends – and with other people in ministry.
I have always been a bit of a loner in ministry, because of this feeling that I didn’t fit in. So I have begun to reach out to pastors and to try to make friends. This step is becoming more important to me. I realize it’s vital to learn and grow together as one church. But as I have been reaching out, I again experienced this feeling of condemnation.
Now the enemy began to suggest that my reaching out wasn’t genuine and I was just acting as a self-promoter. Thoughts came to mind like: “You really shouldn’t be a self promoter.” I would reply in prayer, “God, please know my heart I just want to have friends I never want to be a self promoter.”
When I heard these accusations, I would stop reaching out. I never wanted people to think I was one of those guys. I know self promoters can be annoying.
Recently I attended an event where there was a ton of pastors. I walked around and started to try and introduce myself. This was something I have never done in a room full of pastors. (Again, put me in a room full of gangsters and I can own the room I am so comfortable. Put me in a room full of pastors and I shut down like I nuclear plant under a code red. Crazy, right?)
So that night I introduced myself to these pastors and tried to be a friend. I left feeling so stupid. Again the voices assaulted me: “They all thought I was one of those self promoters. I am so sorry God if that was my motive, I just want friends. I want to be one church”
A few days ago, I was sitting with one of my pastors, Pastor Greg Jones. He made me aware of a whole new level of grace. He explained to me that my Father God is okay with me. He loves me and knows my heart and even if I make the mistake of self promoting, my place is okay.
My error was in thinking that God was giving me an ultimatum. Something like: “If you self promote, I won’t bless you with friends and connections in ministry.”
Jeremiah 29:11 disputes the very idea of God giving ultimatums. God doesn’t give ultimatums such as, If you do this then I will do this; or if you do this then I will give you this. Nor does He give the ultimatum that many of us buy into: If you don’t do this then you won’t get that.
I was trying to position myself for grace. If I didn’t self promote then God would give me everything I’ve dreamed of in ministry and the friends I desperately wanted. As much as I understood grace, read books on it, heard sermons on it, still and yet, I had placed myself under condemnation which brought huge frustration. Until Pastor Greg said those words to me!
I had been so worried about making the right moves to establish pastor friends. For instance, I had a friend in ministry whom I thought was upset with me. It let it bug me thinking I might lose that friendship. I’m not buying into that lie now.
The truth is, I cannot position myself for grace. I have to trust that that person I’m concerned about will hear from Jesus — if I did do something wrong I trust that person will forgive me.
My heart is not to promote some ministry that I have, but to develop true friends from all over the country who are in any form of ministry so that we can be one church. But if I do fall into the self promotion trap, God will forgive me and direct me. He won’t punish me by taking my dreams away.
He loves me right where I am, and will help me get to where I want to be. This is true for you as well. The God dreams you have are from Him. There is nothing you can do to lose what God has for you. He loves you right where you are and knows the road you will go on to become who He wants you to be.
Don’t allow mind games of condemnation to take you from time that could be spent in the arms of Father God worshiping him.
I tried to position myself for grace. I learned today I can’t position myself for grace. I am in the position for grace right where I am. And so are you.
“God has plans to prosper you, not to harm you. To give you hope for the future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) He will walk you through any mistakes you make right into his blessings for your life. He won’t remind you of sins He has already forgiven you of, AND He never gives ultimatums.
So worship Him. You don’t have to work to be near him. He is right where you are.