Are you truly following Jesus wherever He leads? Or have you invited him to follow you? This is a question that I have been wrestling with lately.

When God tells you to do something, or you read a command in His word, is your first reaction:

  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Worry
  • Discomfort

Or does it instantly move to:

  • Excitement
  • Trust
  • Obedience
  • Anticipation

I have found it really easy to follow God when what He asks me is in line with my plans. But when what He asks is different than what I am planning or leads to an uncomfortable situation, I have many times opted for the easier route and done my own thing.

When your first reaction to a command in God's Word or to something He asks you to do is instantly fear, worry, and anxiety, then you might need to reexamine your view of God. 

You don’t serve a God that wants you to be miserable. You serve a God who wants you to experience life and to experience it fully. You serve a God that truly wants the best for you. You serve a God that actually knows what’s best for your life and has a specific plan.

His plan is always the best plan even if it means you haven to go through some uncomfortable things in the process.

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When you were growing up, were there times when you thought you knew better than your parents? They told you to do something or to not do something, and we, in our infinite wisdom as children or teenagers thought they we knew better and just completely ignored the advice? I think we can probably all think of one of those moments. 

There were so many moments growing up where my parents warned me about something, not because they didn’t want me to have fun, but because they truly loved me and wanted the best for me, and I ignored it and did the opposite because I didn’t fully trust that what they were saying was the best thing for me. 

And I feel like this is something that is so easy to do with God. 

So let me start by asking you this question, “When God tells you to do something or you read a command in His word, does your mind automatically go to fear and worry about all the things that you are going to have to give up, or how uncomfortable it is going to be, or the fun that you will miss out on? Or does it instantly move to excitement, trust, and obedience knowing that it is the best plan?”

God was really challenging me on this lately. I have big dreams and big plans for my life. I feel like they are God-ordained in a lot of ways. But God really challenged me the other day and said, “If I asked you to give up everything that you have been working so hard on and change your course, would you be willing to do it?”

And with that question, I was instantly filled with fear. I was instantly filled with worry about all the things He might ask me to do. What if he calls me to move overseas to be a missionary? What if he calls me to sell all my possessions and give them to the poor? What if I have to be stuck doing something I don’t love for the rest of my life?

As a Christ follower, I know the answer to God’s question needs to be yes, but I was terrified to actually let myself give an emphatic yes because of all those other worries. 

And I realized I was saying yes to God in a lot of ways in my life that went along with my plans, but that when it came to things that were maybe contrary to what I wanted to do, I wasn’t saying yes to God as often as I should. 

When this is our attitude, there is a fundamental problem.

It’s that we don’t fully trust that God’s plan for our lives is truly the best plan. It means we question the nature and goodness of God.

If you are afraid to submit to God’s plan because you think it won’t be fun or that it might not be a good life, then you don’t have a full understanding of who God is. 

We don’t serve a God that wants us to be miserable. We serve a God who wants us to experience life and to experience it fully. We serve a God that truly wants the best for us. We serve a God that actually knows what’s best for our lives and has a specific plan. 

John 10:10 says

“The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. But I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”

We read that and say that’s amazing. God wants us to have life to the full. But then when we are faced with the decision of completely surrendering to his will, it is so easy to actually not believe this and think that we have better plans.

Jeremiah 29:11 says,

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

This verse gets quoted almost more than any other verse in the Bible. It’s an amazing truth. But do your actions show that you truly believe this? If God called you to sell everything you had and move overseas to serve in a third world country, would you truly believe that those plans are to prosper you and not to harm. Plans to give you hope and a future?”

Do you love and believe this verse any situation? Or only when it is in line with your plans? I love this verse when thinking about my business. God has plans to make me prosper. Yes! My business is going to take off and I’m going to be super successful! 

God is going to give me that house, or that car, or that perfect person to be with. I believe that his plans for me are to prosper.

But then he calls us to do something hard. He calls us to do something that isn’t in line with our plans. And we throw this verse away and don’t fully trust that plan is for our good or to prosper us. 

Here is the fundamental question:

Are you truly following Jesus wherever he leads? Or have you invited him to follow you?

And I realized in that moment with God that if my first reaction to him asking me to surrender my life is one of fear and hesitation, that I have not fully trusted that everything he does is for my good. 

If he asks me to give up my business and become a full-time missionary. Then that’s exactly what I need to be doing! And I should be absolutely stoked to do it because being in God’s will is the best place in the world that I could possibly be! 

I Corinthians 2:9 says,

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
    and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared
    for those who love him.”

God has amazing, incredible plans for our lives. This should be the most exciting thing ever! If I fully believe that God is good, that he loves me, that he is for me and that his plans for me are all for my good, then I should be pumped to take his plans for my life. 

I should jump at the opportunity to obey him. I should jump at the opportunity to follow him anywhere because I know that is going to be the best thing that I could possibly do. 

We too often focus on the negatives or the things that we might miss out on if we fully submit to God, instead of focusing on the amazing privilege and opportunity it is to fully jump into the will of God. 

Instead of thinking about all the things you have to give up or all the things you are going to miss out on, think about the things you are going to gain by following Christ.

In Matthew 19, there is a story of a rich young ruler. It says

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments. “Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.”

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth."

I know when I have read this before, I have that this was pretty harsh by Jesus to ask the guy to give up everything. He has probably worked hard his entire life for everything that he owned. He said that he had followed all the commandments. This guy seemed like he had lived a good life and so I almost feel bad that Jesus would give such a strong command. 

But I should feel bad that this guy didn’t do it. Think of the amazing life that he actually gave up by not choosing to sell all of his possessions. He had the opportunity of a lifetime. He had the chance to walk with Jesus. He had the opportunity to join in Jesus’ mission when he was on earth. To see miracles firsthand. To see people healed of diseases. To see people who were blind be able to see again. And most of all, he would have gotten to know the Savior of the world. To spend time with him. To walk with him and talk with him.

What an opportunity missed because he was too focused on his plans for his life instead of God’s plans. 

What an opportunity missed because he didn’t have a full understanding that letting go of his hopes and dreams and taking up God’s would have actually been the best thing he could’ve done.

I don’t think there has ever been one person in this life who has surrendered their life to the will of God and regretted it. I don’t think it’s possible because of the nature of God. Because his plans are truly the best for us. 

If you are feeling frustrated in life right now. If you are feeling unfulfilled. Then it might be time to think about if you are surrendered to God’s will for your life or if you are living out your own plans. 

I don’t think there is a better place to be in this life than in the middle of the will of God. But I also don’t think there’s a more frustrating place in the long run than being outside of the will of God. 

There will come a time in life where the pain of living for yourself and your plans will be worse than the initial fear of saying yes to God. Don’t wait your whole life to make that decision. 

I read James 1:4-10 in the message version and it rocked me. It says:

"You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.” And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find. It’s common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.”

So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him make himself scarce. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet."

Wow. When all we want is our own way. When we flirt with the world, we wind up being enemies of God and his way. 

That sounds a whole lot worse than surrendering my life to the will and plans of a perfectly loving God. To a God who always has my best interests in mind and wants the best for me! 

I think one of the biggest enemies of a life fully surrendered to God is our need and desire for comfort. It’s so easy to want the benefits that God gives without being willing to do the hard and uncomfortable things that he asks us to do. 

Last year, I heard a podcast from this guy who was challenging people to do a 12-hour walk. The purpose of the walk was to do something way outside of your comfort zone and to focus on breaking down some of the limiting beliefs that you might have in your life. So the challenge was to get outside and take 12 straight hours to be by yourself, with no media, no headphones, no one else around, and spend time thinking through the negative stories in your life that you were believing, or the limits your were putting on yourself. And to just walk. Some people would truly walk for 12 straight hours and some would walk for awhile and take breaks. It didn’t matter but the point was to be by yourself with no media for 12 hours.

I was all fired up to try it after hearing the podcast. I love hiking so I was like, If I’m going to walk for 12 hours straight I might as hike a mountain in the process. 12 hours is a long time so I knew I needed to do one of the longer 14ers to make it take that long. So I decided to do Pike’s Peak on the Barr Trail. This is about 25 miles round trip and about 7,000 feet of elevation gain so it’s a monster. 

I drove to Manitou Springs the night before, slept in my truck, and then got up super early to start the hike. I was completely alone, with one else around, no music, no podcast, no phone walking in the pitch black with a headlamp to light my way, but I was just praying and talking to God and asking him to speak to me and reveal to me the ways in which I wasn’t trusting in him. Asking him to reveal to me the things in my life that were holding me back from pursuing his plan for my life. Asking him to identify the areas in my life where I was afraid, where I was being timid, where I didn’t have faith. 

It was late in the hiking season so it was super cold. The last 2 hours of the hike near the top had insane winds that were almost blowing me over. The conditions were tough and made every step near the top a battle. After numerous hours of walking and 7,000 feet of elevation gain I reached the top

The thing that’s unique about Pike’s Peak is that there is a road to the top of the mountain so people can drive their cars to the top. There’s also a train that you can take to the top and then there’s a newly renovated visitor center up there that has a restaurant, gift shop, and a museum.

So when I finally got up there, I was all of a sudden surrounded by hundreds of people who had gotten up there by train or car. I was all muddy, sweaty, and cold from the hike, and these people were in nice clothes, drinking coffee and eating donuts while checking out the view.  

My first reaction when I saw them was of initial disappointment. Why did I just walk all that way by myself with no music or media to distract me when I could have just traveled up here in a nice, omfortable car or train with heat and seen the exact same thing. 

I was pretty tired and annoyed at how comfortable everyone else seemed to be, but then I got up on the balcony of the visitor center and turned around and really looked at the view for the first time.

And I knew what I saw was way more meaningful and amazing than what everyone else saw. That view was way more meaningful to me because of the journey that I had just taken. I looked back and I saw how far I had come. I looked back and saw something amazing that I had just accomplished. 

Yes, the people right next to me that were looking at the view were seeing it, but they were also missing it at the same time. They couldn’t possibly be experiencing the amazing moment that I was experiencing because they didn’t go through anything difficult to get to the destination. 

And I think it’s the same way with God sometimes. We want all the benefits of God while doing things our way. We want all the benefits of God without being willing to do anything uncomfortable. We want the destination without going through the journey. 

We want to stay in God’s will as long as it is easy, but the moment he asks us to do anything hard, we want to back away and revert back to our plan. 

Do you just want the destination? Do you just want the insurance policy of heaven? Or do you want to experience the life God intended for you on earth to the full? Do you want to be so consumed with being comfortable and avoiding all dangerous situations that you miss out on the great adventure that is out there for you?

In that moment, there wasn’t another second where I regretted getting to the top the way that I got to the top. I got to spend time with God doing something challenging. God spoke to me. He encouraged me. He built me up. He broke things down in me that needed to be broken down. He spoke his Truth over me.  I learned more about myself and about God in those 12 hours that day than I had in the past month. 

I can guarantee everyone that drove up there enjoyed the day but it was not a life altering movement like it was for me. That is a day that I will never forget. I would’ve never experienced that if I would’ve opted for comfort instead of the challenge. 

The most amazing part of that journey wasn’t just the view from the top. It was spending time with God. Knowing God in a deeper way was the greatest reward of that trip. 

We want to spend eternity with God. We just don’t want to spend time with him. We stand and stare from a distance like the other people on Pike’s Peak. We spend so much time distracted; pursuing our own plans, and avoiding anything uncomfortable that we miss out on the best part of life: knowing Christ! 

  • We want the joy without the sacrifice 
  • We want character without suffering
  • We want success without failure
  • We want gain without any of the pain

God’s plans may not always be easy, but I guarantee you they are the most fulfilling. God’s plans might not always lead to financial success and prosperity in a worldly sense. But they will lead to knowing the God of the universe…that is priceless. They will lead to an adventure that is better than anything we could ever dream of! If God calls you to the mission field, it’s the best thing you could do! If he calls you to start a business, you better start it right away! If he is telling you to talk to your friend about Jesus, do it! His ways our way better than ours. His plans are perfect and his plans are good. 

We need to stop trying to control our lives in a way that keeps us comfortable and be willing to say yes to Jesus no matter what the cost and trust that it will be the best thing we could ever do. 

I want to close by reading something out of a book that I just read by Mark Batterson. It’s his personal manifesto that I want to leave us with.

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. 

Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. 

Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. 

Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. 

Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Enjoy the journey. 

Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. 

Don’t let what’s wrong with you keep you from worshiping what’s right with God. 

Burn sinful bridges. Blaze new trails. Don’t let fear dictate your decisions. Take a flying leap of faith. 

Quit holding out. Quit holding back. 

Go all in with God. Go all out for God.

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