Negative voices! Many times on Sundays, for whatever reason, it seems I hear negative voices whispering in my ear. I hear them at other times, but especially on Sunday. I am not sure if anyone can relate to this, but if one person can identify with this it will be worth writing about.
Over time, especially in the last 4 years, I have learned to recognize this negative voice as the voice of the “enemy”. In case you aren’t aware, we have an enemy and it is satan. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us to, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Needless to say, I have become more alert to recognize and denounce the negative and condemning voices and whispers that I hear.
The way the enemy wants to devour me most of the time is by whispering lies of discouragement to me. This past Sunday, he whispered a lie as I walked into church, “You are not worthy or “Holy” enough to be founding a ministry.” He told me, “Look at all the people around you. They are at church a lot more than you are. You miss church a lot for golf so how will anyone take you seriously?” Through wise counsel and working hard at being a recovering “people pleaser”, along with growing by leaps and bounds in my walk with the Lord, I have become more equipped to distinguish the voice of God from the voice of the enemy.
You see, the enemy is tricky, disguising himself as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”, and can fool us. I have learned to breathe a quick prayer like this one, “God I know you love me and you desire the best for me. I ask you in the name of Jesus to bind the enemy and make him flee. You are a God of hope, not of discouragement. Please allow me to hear your voice louder and to obey fully.” The whispers from the enemy then disappear. Yes, this simple prayer brings much needed peace and redirects my focus to God and away from people pleasing. Psalm 143:1 is so true! “O Lord hear my prayer listen to my cry in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.”
This past Sunday, God went a step further to encourage me immediately as I finished a prayer on the warfare that I was experiencing, Just as I entered the church I saw a dear friend, Meredith Sturkie. She stopped and smiled and told me how much she was enjoying the “Back 9 Journal”. Boom!!! God is so faithful!
God went even another step further. After Sunday School, as I sat down in worship, I felt my phone vibrate in my purse. I try to ignore my phone, especially in church, but I decided to look since our daughter was on the road in Pittsburgh. I knew it would help me to focus if I at least looked. To my surprise it was a text from a close friend of my daughter and a fellow I dearly love. I have watched this young man grow up. He has given me permission to share his text with you. He said, “Hey Mrs. Bradshaw, it’s Schro, hope you’ve been doing good. I’ve reached a point in my life where I have LOST my way and haven’t been true to myself or to the people I love in my life. I’ve been living two different lives and it’s finally taken its toll on me. I’ve hurt my loved ones and haven’t been a good and true follower of Christ. Really sorry about this, just knew you’d be someone great to talk to.” I immediately sent him a text and we agreed to meet at 3 in the afternoon.
I can honestly tell you the time on Sunday from 3 to 5 was so precious and God ordained. It sent chills all over me. You see, the purpose of Back 9 is to help others navigate the “fairways of life”. From Schroder’s text I knew he had “Hit his ball and couldn’t find it. He was, in fact, worn out. He was looking for a lost ball,” and needed help finding it. Schroder is not a golfer but he is quite the baseball player. Back 9 represents encouraging any and everyone, not just golfers!
To look into the eyes of this precious young man seeking to “find his lost ball,” I could see the struggle. Schroder shared with me how “worn out” he was trying to be all things to all people. He even said, “I am a PEOPLE PLEASER Mrs. B and I have got to stop. It is wearing me out!”
Just so you know, that is exactly the battle I have been fighting and learning to win for several years. God now had someone sitting in my office on a Sunday afternoon with their feet propped up looking for answers and solutions. We talked at length about many things. Things such as God is not looking for perfection but He is looking for our actions to line up with our heart. And we need to take our eyes off of everyone else and focus on God. We wrestled with what it looks like to own his own personal relationship with Christ. He shared how he tweeted earlier in morning that he was tired of leading a “double life!”
I am so excited to see this young man, not only wanting to follow Christ, but seeking to “LIVE OUT LOUD” about it. He had legitimate fears that we all experience about losing relationships because of his choice to follow Christ and make different choices. We talked about following Christ means denying yourself, picking up the cross and trusting God (having faith) to step out of the boat as Peter did, keeping his eyes on Jesus and not looking anywhere else.
There is much more I will write in the future about Schroder and his story, but I need for you to focus on a few key things from this journal today:
- Satan attacks. We have to recognize the attacks and lies and learn to PRAY and reject them.
- God is faithful to answer in the most awesome way…realizing that sometimes we don’t get the answer we want.
- You cannot be a God pleaser and a People pleaser, (It will wear you out, just ask Schroder.)
- The tag line that God gave me for the ministry was helping people to navigate the fairways of life and to encourage. I just want you to see something. When God tells you to do something, He will confirm it over and over–Schroder’s words to me were,”I have lost my way”–fairway of life! He was looking for encouragement and God brought him to me!!!
Please know this is not about me. It is about encouraging all of you as readers–GOD IS FAITHFUL TO PROVIDE WHEN YOU HEED HIS CALL!! Psalm 108:4 ” not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.”