Yes, but…. Have you ever used that expression when talking to yourself or others about what God might want you to do in life? Have you ever thought you had figured it out, only to conclude that God’s best just isn’t possible for you? You are not alone.
I’ve coached a lot of people through the process of figuring out their best life direction (and it is a process!). I’ve been through it myself and must continually re-engage the process to ensure I stay on course.
But in recent responses from readers and in coaching conversations, I was reminded that we easily undermine our own efforts to get clarity by boxing ourselves in with limiting beliefs.
We erect barriers to getting there from here, often without even realizing it.
My Own Refusal to Follow
My own story is full of constricting excuses I foisted upon God’s plans to put my talents to work for Him. I used to know, not just think, but know, that I was wired to write.
But I didn’t.
I taught others how to do it, but I didn’t do it. Why?
Because I could never make a living writing. Because I have children to think of. Because no one would want to read what I wrote. Because [fill in the blank here with the next excuse].
The Psalmist expressed something similar in Psalm 73 when he said,
God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
Sure, he says, God helps His people–except for me. I am different. My situation is unique. Nobody know the troubles I’ve seen.
You get the picture. He had convinced himself that the barriers he faced were significantly higher than anyone else’s challenges.
And he was wrong.
He got his perspective restored when he “entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood.” He went to church or returned to the dwelling place of God. He began thinking as God thinks once again, and his excuses fell away.
It’s easy to look at others and presume they have an advantage. One reader pointed out recently that even Abraham had flocks and herds–the prime currency of the day–when God called him to leave his home and go out without knowing where he was going.
But Abraham had a problem we don’t have today.
His “money” needed food and water to continue to be worth anything. Without it, his fortune could be lost in a matter of days. Talk about hyper-inflation concerns!
What’s Holding You Back?
As I pondered the process of finding life-direction–the subject of my next several posts, by the way–I began to identify the most common things that limit how we respond to God’s direction within.
Because figuring out what God wants us to do and actually doing it are two different things.
Sometime we need to get rid of the limiting beliefs that clutter our thinking before we can see divine possibilities. [Listen to Episode 5 of the FaithWalkers podcast on what we see when faith opens our eyes.]
Here are five areas of life where we tend to limit ourselves and a clarifying question to help us reevaluate our own expectations for each of them:
- Schedule. God’s timetable is not always our timetable. For me, I tend to want things to move quickly. You may prefer that life moved more methodically. Whatever our expectations of what the timetable should be, God probably has a different one. But the Author of time is the Author of your story, so don’t despair no matter where you think you are on the clock. Question: What would you do differently if you truly believed your life was unfolding according to God’s timetable?
- Thinking. Limiting thoughts plague so many of us. We are fallen creatures, after all, so that shouldn’t surprise us. But the Gospel has the power to renew our minds, to transform our thinking so we can think God’s thoughts after Him. Instead of thinking of all the reasons we can’t find and pursue life direction, we should embrace all that God made possible for us through the power of the Holy Spirit. Question: What did Jesus mean when he said that with faith, nothing will be impossible for you”? (Matthew 17:20)
- Relationships. We have a natural tendency to surround ourselves with people who make us feel comfortable. But growth is always an uncomfortable process. If we seek comfort, we fail to realize that comfort can never achieve what courage dares to try.
Iron sharpens iron, Scripture says, but most of us prefer to coast. Question: Do your relationships encourage you to move forward or convince you that you are just fine where you are?
- Opportunities. Most of us don’t think we have many opportunities. Even though we live in the most prosperous nation on earth in America. Even though we live in an era where technology has put information and knowledge at our fingertips. Even though it has never been easier to identify and pursue our callings, we think we don’t have an opening to make a move. The truth is, all we need is the clarity and courage to see and take the next best step. Question: When was the last time you asked yourself a question that began with these words: What if…?
- Consequences. We’ve all made mistakes. We’ve all taken missteps. Some of our errors have been unwise. Some have been sinful. But as my friend Steve Smothermon says, “God is the God of another chance.” Not just a second chance, but always another. A person of faith, Scripture says, falls seven times but keeps getting up. At the end of your life, your story will be worth telling because of the times you got back up–by God’s strength–not because of the times you fell down when trusting in your own strength. Question: Did God choose to love you because he didn’t know about your failures or in spite of knowing them better than you do?
Question: How do you tend to limit yourself in any of these areas? What other areas do you find it easy to limit what is possible in your life? Share your thoughts by clicking here.