Walking In Circles (Obstacles to Calling)

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It was dry outside and winds blew dust in my eyes as I walked towards the city. It was surrounded by great walls, it was a protected city indeed. Along the walls I saw people who wore dirty clothes, some exhausted from traveling and sitting in the dust, leaning against these stone like barriers. They were homeless looking and hungry. Some injured, some armed and angry, while others have given up just outside it’s capital borders. Children were left to raise themselves as their parents lived by the wall in despair of ever being welcomed in. Many were at a loss for words, some war-torn, bitter and detached. The intelligent ones were seen as crazy and the zealous ones are trying too hard. Though these people were thirsty, hungry, and hurting, they were also wealthy, skilled, hard working and generous, and yet unable to acknowledge these strengths because of their weaknesses in this place.

Their passion dwindled as their strength was taken from them in their anguish. There was no hope to live within the perimeters of this city. Travelers young and old with different stories all stopped here and settled on the outskirts. At great cost a few could get in and they would look back and wonder why everyone else stopped on the brink of entering. Outside the rest were left to sit alienated and hindered. The way in was unclear to both parties because the gates can’t be found and the walls were solid. The walls were invisible. The people who were desperate on the outside-seeing-in, weren’t perishing from lost vision, they perished from hope that was deferred. (Proverbs 13:12) Deferred by this invisible boundary.

Then I saw you and I, scouting the land. This same city. We saw our callings could be fulfilled here, our families could be healthy, and our futures might be secure. If only we would do the work of possession. Through conversations with others who would doubt the exploits, we wrestled with fear. Conversations revealed others weren’t sure something invisible could be known. But technically, our God was invisible and so are our callings, so why, how, and when, didn’t this invisible hinderance become something we feared?

The curious thing about all of this, is that we were the proprietors of this territory, all of us sitting on the outside.

I put my hand out to touch the wall I couldn’t see but could feel in my soul. My questions were awkward, my steps to figure it out were wobbly, and my breathing was increasing. Anxiety met me at the wall. I had to move forward. I had to claim this thing declared mine, that wasn’t mine unless I claimed it. We cried as we walked along the walls, feeling their strength and our limitations. Eventually, like the rest of the people outside, we grew silent. Our mouths were numb, our cheeks are stained with tears, shoulders blistered from extended exposure to the heat. Our sweat stung as our feet dried and cracked. Despite our discomfort, we kept our hands out, and we kept walking.

In our walking, our perspective changed. We began to get familiar with the territory, seeing things we have seen before— wandering and wondering if we were just walking in circles. We became wiser, our senses sharper, our skin and clothes were dirty but our hearts had been refined like gold and the dross was drawn out with some holy-kind of magnetic pull. The extra baggage had been burnt off in our journey along this wall as well.

A second time my perspective changed, except this time was panoramic. I see the forbidden mainland that swells and satisfies my questions. The wall is like a line on a map, and the people along its edges still have their hands up trying to feel where these walls might end, looking for the entrance, or at least a way around to move on without feeling guilty.

I heard Him say, “Do you see what’s happening here?” I replied “I see potential but I don’t see a way to get in.” He said, “Look again!” I stopped to focus in. I was trying to breathe steadily, but the fear of missing out on the call of God for my life in this next season was so strong. I wrestled with worry, wondering if I could be of any use to the Kingdom again. My tears blurred my vision. I stretched out to Him and cried “Don’t pass me by!” In His mercy, he said “This is my command— be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NLT) In my frustration I stomped, “I’m going nowhere!”

A second time He led me so graciously to look again. It was then I perceived something I have only known to be true for someone else. As the people were trying to figure out this wall, in their silence, in their passion to obey the Lord, they were in fact walking in circles around this city.

Then I realized, this was Jericho and walking in circles is the purpose of this season!

Finally, my perspective was restored to the original view and there I was with understanding that we were marching around this fortified city. The place where my Savior once restored sight to the blind. (Matthew 20:30) In that moment it was me that was blind and I began to see that this place was just the beginning instead of the end. I learned that this was a place with a certain aroma. (2 Corinthians 2:15) Jericho was a city that smelled of soul and spirit mixed. People die here, and people die to themselves here.

We gathered the people, the tired and tested, the worn out but righteous, and we raised our hands again not toward the wall but to the One who led us to it. Our journey of figuring out this wall was a sacrifice. Through blazing pressure our worship to amplify the One who gave us these proprietary rights in the beginning was a fragrance that reached Heaven.

In the end, the walls came down and the homeland became our place to flourish. The fruit of our lives became a refreshing fragrance, the stronger the lifestyle, the stronger the witness, the greater the glory our Lord receives.

Today, I have only one question: Have you met your Jericho yet?

That place in between you and the next season of your calling. That resistance, that confusion, that obstacle, THAT is Jericho. I’m learning to become comfortable facing my Jericho’s, and here is what I’ve learned so far…

1. When you meet Jericho, start to familiarize yourself with the terrain (cycles):

-Have very regular conversations with God.

-Pray in the spirit and study the Bible.

-Research everything on google you can about this new thing.

-Talk with others who are wiser.

2. When you feel like you are walking in circles, understand and do these things:

-You will have the same conversations, just different words or different people.

-You will have the same feelings some will cause disillusionment, and others clarity. Cling to what is clear. (2 Timothy 1:7)

-Guard your heart against false humility, don’t minimize yourself, dare to become all God has called you to be.

-Grow the areas in your life you have control over, practice where you can.

-Prepare yourself to be misunderstood. (Reserve mental & emotional energy to control emotions and language during things times.)

-Find people who “sort-of” understand you but are still filled with faith for, and link with them. Perhaps it’s only a matter of time, you’ll find you truly are on the same page, or at least have a friend to journey with.

-Remember you “are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world…” (Ephesians 6:12 NLT) It is possible to keep your heart right towards God and others during this season.

-Believe the best in the people around you.

-Share what you have, encouragement, a smile, coffee, a hug…

3. Until the end:

-Worship

-Keep in communication with Him and renew your mind with His Word.

-The calling is not as important as your relationship with the One who called you.

-Keep going!

-Remember, dying to self isn’t for the faint of heart, put your hope in the Lord (not in your calling).

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31 NIV

xo,

Steph

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