Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:25
Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. Psalm 32:9
This last week in Nicaragua I was invited deeper into this truth. I got the chance to practice what it meant to walk yoked to the Spirit of God. What does it look like to follow His plan and timing in our lives and even as we lead others? This requires
seeing others with His eyes + hearing the voice of God + immediate obedience.
It also requires paying attention to how he is leading others. I am not entirely proficient at all of this yet, but I do know this. This is the way I want to walk the rest of my life.
This was an amazing week of seeing Him do much more than I could have asked or dreamed. I have been walking this way of deeper trust and reliance for a while but it’s new for me to coach others in this. We experienced healing in relationships and new freedom from fear of man. We danced before God in complete joy with our brothers and sisters in Christ. I felt a woman get healed under my hand–a lump on her back disappeared. We saw a local worship team step into greater leadership not because we taught leadership principles but because we very simply encouraged them in listening to the Spirit and following His lead. I saw people stepping into Spirit-led ministry, ministering to one another, to me, and to the Nicaraguan people, which is not actually strange or crazy at all (though it might feel that way or look that way at first), but is completely meant to be normal for us as those following Jesus. And can I just say this?
Being led by the Spirit through hearing/sensing God’s voice and responding in real time obedience is not tied to a denomination or doctrine (John 10:27, 1 Corinthians 2:13). It is meant to be the way of life for every follower of Christ so that we can experience and rely on the demonstration of His power and share His love powerfully with others, not just with wise words, but with real encounter of the Living God.
My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. 1 Corinthians 2:4-6
Living expecting that kind of powerful, intimate, constant leadership from Him is the reality He is inviting us into. And those who say yes are in for an amazing ride!
About two years ago, I decided I didn’t care about having my own plans anymore. I didn’t care about my 5 or 10 year life plan or future security. I laid down again (and subsequently started losing concern for) my riches, reputation, and renown. I just wanted to know what His plan was for the world and get in on it. What followed, in short, has been a painful and thrilling process of Him digging out of me all of the things that go against that. Recently, in Nicaragua, this phrase kept rolling around in my head. It was His voice.
Keep in step with the Spirit–be yoked to me.
And as I fought that and yielded to that throughout the days and weeks the question rose up in my heart:
Do I really trust God’s leadership? Not just for me personally but for everything?
The deeper I go into trust the more I realize that living this way requires a complete reworking of my mind and a re-prioritization of my whole life. It’s a constant letting go of my agenda and asking to be brought into the agenda of God’s work in the world. Now for the truth. I am generally pretty terrible at this because I used to feel more safe when I was in control. I still tend to go my own way–not just into sin (though that happens too), but also into my own plans and priorities.
The last two years have been ridiculously hard and I have struggled with things I never thought I would struggle with. But God is really, actually, very faithful. I don’t know why it took me so long to choose total trust, but I think it took me realizing that I am really entirely dependent on Him for life, for joy, for peace, for hope, for everything. I got tired of trying to manufacture that stuff. The process of learning to walk in trust is a long hard journey (also full of joy). Here’s what I am learning now.
It turns out He loves the world and me and my people much more than I do.
I think before I wasn’t really sure about this. Now that I actually have chosen to believe that (and it was a choice I had to make) I have seen and tasted His goodness over and over and have seen that it was a really good decision to decide to trust Him completely. He is actually trust-worthy. This means I have chosen to believe and have seen proof now that He is able to be trusted with my trust. And why would I not want to be yoked in submission to follow someone utterly good, all powerful, endlessly loving and totally worthy of trust?
So here is the invitation.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
When we start to live under His yoke, which at first feels uncomfortable (not heavy, but just unfamiliar), we realize that His leadership is perfect and what He is leading us INTO is so much more amazing than what we thought our lives would be! How many times have I tried to lead God into my circumstances to bless my efforts and my plans? Oh wow. When we keep in step with HIm we realize His priorities and plans are different from ours and to make matters worse, He does not even give us the full map of where we are going.
It’s all step by step.
Ugh. I hate this. But it’s also amazing. Because living this way is the only way we learn to listen and obey in complete and utter trust. Step by step in the Spirit–yoked to HIM–doing his work in the world, not ours.
Oh and guess what His work in the field of the world is….this is so amazing.
To loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke… Isaiah 58:6
The one who breaks the yoke of sin and pride in our lives, calls us under His yoke (which is easy and light) so that HE can lead us into breaking the yoke of oppression in the lives of others, and invite them into this same easy and light way of trust. What a privilege! This invitation to be yoked and work the fields of the kingdom of God transcends our own plans for our lives. This is not simply doctrine. This call transcends career choices. This passion is not a social justice agenda in the political realm. This is simply life in step with the Spirit. What will this look like for you?
Once again, I say yes, Jesus. Take me deeper into trust to follow you into breaking the yokes from those around me. I trust your leadership.
Oh! And PS…this picture was taken the last day I was in Nicaragua from a moving car. Do you see how the sun is shining on the yoke! I mean, come on Jesus. Really? He’s so cool.