In Step With the Spirit
You walk with God (see my last post about walking with God). You take steps with Him and experience His presence.
You come across passages in the Bible about keeping in step with the Spirit. It sounds simple and straightforward. It seems like something you should be able to do easily.
Why does it seem difficult?
Many struggle with staying in step with the Spirit.
Most "Bible heroes" experienced this very problem. They had their moments where they were in step with God. But, many of them were out of sync with him at some point.
The truth is, there are many barriers to staying in step with the Spirit.
I want to highlight two pitfalls or ditches on the sides of the road for you to avoid. They are there to derail you from following the Spirit.
These two pitfalls are best understood in terms of walking with God.
The two pitfalls:
1. Walking too slow
2. Walking too fast
As you walk with God and listen, you will hear from Him. You will see promises in His word. There will be other promptings from God.
In each instance, it will take time to see these their fulfillment. During this period, there is an invitation to walk with God by staying in step with Him. There is also the opportunity to find yourself out of step with Him along the way.
You and God might start out together, heading in the same direction.
But, by going too slow or too fast you may find yourself further and further from Him.
The Pitfall of Walking Too Slow (the all God side)
This pitfall may seem spiritual and might even look like faith from a distance. But it is unbelief in disguise. Those deep into this pitfall will find a way to use theology to justify their lack of involvement.
It takes personal involvement and risk to get on the road and in step with the Spirit.
Imagine a young soccer player who knows her coach wants to win. She also knows that he is far better at soccer. The coach comes over to put her in the game. The player turns to her friend on the sideline and says, "If he wants to win he can do it, he has the ability."
The coach was trying to work with her to win the game. Now he wonders if the she even wants to play.
The Pitfall of Walking Too Fast (the all human side)
This side seems to contain faith as you push hard into God's word. But you end up with a result that bears next to no fingerprint of God's presence or power. This leaves you exhausted because you were not meant to do it without Him.
You can feel it when you start walking too fast. You leave the easy yoke and light burden way of life Jesus talked about. You feel the weight to produce results. The pressure rests on you, not God.
Surrendering your ideas and plans and patiently waiting on God is what it takes to get back in step with God.
One day during family God time we had instruments out during worship. My oldest, Calvin, picked up the small recorder. He knew the sound it was supposed to make. He put it to his lips and instead of blowing into the mouthpiece, he did something else. He produced a sound with his voice to imitate the recorder. He made an oooooooohhhhhh, oooooooohhhhhh sound. He was using his own ability to make the notes. The notes that could be produced with ease if he knew how to partner with the recorder.
He used his own ability to try to get results.
No matter your ability, you cannot get God results on your own. That statement may either be liberating or terrifying to you depending on which way you lean.
In Step With the Spirit
You wait on Him so that you do not run ahead.
You take steps because you believe what He is doing.
You meet God in the process as you walk together.
One indicator that you are in this sweet spot is that you act in a way that depends on Him and His power.
Because you believe, you take steps. This is where God puts his ability on your availability.
Because he believed, Peter took stepped out of the boat.
Because she believed, the woman with the issue of blood reached out and touched Jesus cloak.
This is a picture of how faith expresses itself in action.
You start with intimacy and closeness with Him. Then you step out with Him in faith, leaving the results up to Him.
On the opposite side, an indicator of being in step with God is how you wait on Him.
You adopt a yielded posture that says, "not what I want God, but what you want."
The simple test for this is in your prayer life. How often do you turn to God in prayer seeking His direction or ideas before making decisions.
Dancing With God
You may think, "If he wants to dance, he knows where to find me. He is God and he can dance if he wants to, he doesn't need me. I would just screw it up anyway".
You leave Him waiting on the floor as everyone else gets out there and participates. You grow bored as you stand with your back on the wall and wonder what happened to the love you had at first. You wonder why God doesn't do things that excite you anymore.
Or, you may hear God's call to dance and run out straight past Him to the dance floor. After all, you think you know the song. You start strong until you get tired. Maybe you realize that you don't exactly know what you are doing as much as you thought. You end up looking foolish to the other couples. You feel tired and alone in the middle of all the activity.
His desire is for you to hear his invitation to dance and take his hand. To risk getting out onto the floor. You don't quite know what to do, but you let him lead.
With time you learn to be led by gentle nudges.
Eventually, you learn to dance with Him so well that you don’t need many nudges. He will still lead but you know how to partner so well that you move as one.
Abraham was called to move to the land of his fathers and received amazing promises from God.
From here his life was a series of ups and downs.
He typically fell in the pitfall of walking too fast by relying on himself.
Abraham received a clear picture of what God was doing and he often took it upon himself to make it happen.
One of the big moments had to do with God's promise that Abraham would be the father of many nations. Simple logic told Abraham that he needed to have a child for this to happen.
After a time with no children, Abraham reasoned that he knew how to make children. His plan was to take matters into his own hands and have a child by Hagar. The Bible makes it clear that this was a step ahead of God and not what He planned.
God told Abraham that Sarah would bear his child. Abraham knew that for Sarah to bear his child it was up to him to make her pregnant.
In their old age they did not have the power to bear a child on their own. God's role was to open Sarah's womb to get pregnant in her old age. For this to work, Abraham and Sarah had to do their part and God had to do His.
In this story you see:
• God's makes a promise
• Abraham takes a detour by walking ahead of God
• Abraham syncs up with God (he repents and gets on God's page)
• Abraham and Sarah have faith in God's word and power,
• Abraham and Sarah partner with that promise
• Their faith and obedience meets God's power and ability
• They all rejoice in the fruit that they achieved together
Do you see how Abraham walked too fast to be in step with God?
Did you notice how Abraham never said, "God if you want Sarah to be pregnant you can make it happen, you don't need me." Abraham was clearly meant to be involved in the process.
Use this understanding to steer clear of the pitfalls and stay in step with the Spirit.
You may also use this perspective as a lens to view those around you. Use it to help and encourage your community to stay in step with God.
God gave us community to help one another get out of the ditches and back on the road.
He wants all of us to walk with him in an active, easy-yoke, life-giving, and fruitful way!
What side does the pendulum of your life tend to swing towards?
What is one thing you can do in the next 2-3 days to walk in step with the Spirit? (Where your obedience, faith, and intentionality can meet his ability and power)
Who is someone that is stuck in one of the two pitfalls? How can you partner with God in getting them back on the road?
Who is someone you will share this with in the next in the next 2-3 days?
Thanks Cam. This was really good. It amazes me how often I have had to be reminded of this in my life. Too slow or too fast gets me nowhere without God. I have someone in mind to share the MVVC app and your message next week. Schedules won’t permit before that. Going to ask her to read it and then discuss our pitfalls together, hopefully. I will be praying about it in the meantime. Thanks again!
That is awesome Sandy! I look forward to hearing how it goes! I'm glad it helps!
I am with you, I constantly need reminded of this..! haha
Thanks, Cam. I needed to hear this today!
Thanks for the comment, I am glad it helps!