When Push Comes to Shove (A November to Remember –11.4.2014)
Today’s Scripture — 11.4.2014
“For they loved praise from men more than praise from God.” ~ John 12:43
“When push came to shove, they cared more for human approval than God’s glory.” ~ From the Message paraphrase
When Push Comes to Shove
I almost didn’t write Love Idol.
You know why? Because of my love idols!
I was afraid of what people would think. The fear of failure haunted me. I was equally afraid of success.
I was a “small-platform” blogger, relatively unknown outside of my small circle of readers. Everything that I’d read or been told made me believe that I had little or no chance of ever seeing a book published.
Furthermore, if it did publish, what if people hated it?
Amazon terrified me. My little yellow book about approval would be open for review on a five-star approval system. Irony of ironies.
I remember distinctly a conversation that I had with my husband while writing the book.
“You’re married a woman of paradox,” I whined to him one morning. On the verge of tears, I explained that I was jumping into a pit of my worst fears.
Here’s what he said:
“Maybe that’s the point! Maybe jumping into your fear is the point. That’s why they call it courage.”
My own love idol of approval had a firm grip on me, and it nearly killed the book that now bears its name.
“When Push Came to Shove”
The Apostle John once wrote about some religious leaders who believed in Jesus, but because of the Pharisees, they wouldn’t confess their faith “out of fear.”
“When push came to shove, they cared more for human approval than God’s glory.” (John 12:43, the Message)
I’m not proud to admit that I’ve been like those religious leaders. God was calling me to write a book, but “out of fear” I balked. I fretted more about human approval, then what God wanted to do in and through me.
Push came to shove. I had to make a choice.
I know I’m not alone. Friends tell me they’re scared, too. Scared to apply for a promotion, start a business, speak in public, write a book, enroll in a class. Our love idols convince us that we’re too stumbling and bumbling, too broken and clueless, too ridiculous or sinful to be effective. We think we’re unremarkable. So when push comes to shove, we duck from the challenges placed before us.
The desire for approval strangles dreams. It suffocates bravery. In its grip, we begin to trust exterior evaluation, more than interior revelation. Have we forgotten that we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit? With God? He’s not an absentee landlord of your life. He’s the Tenant of your soul.
If we let fear have unrestricted access to our heart, our dreams will die with us.
“The most valuable land in the world is the graveyard,” someone once said. “In the graveyard are buried all of the unwritten novels, never-launched businesses, unreconciled relationships, and all of the other things that people thought, ‘I’ll get around to that tomorrow.’ One day, however, their tomorrows ran out.”
Maybe today’s the day, to take the next step. Push has officially come to shove. And maybe today’s the day you spread your arms open wide and jump — right into your fear … to find God catching you. Say “yes” to the crazy risk, the wild wonder of the unknown. When you say yes, you’re saying you trust the Spirit of God who gave you the idea in the first place
And when you say yes, you’re making the rest of us brave. Because we can see how God, working in you, is bigger than the fears that surround you.
I remember just now, on a winter night when I was sitting at these computer keys. It seemed like God was whispering into my “knower:”
“Amazon is a pretty big place,” God seemed to say to me. “That’s why it’s called Amazon. But guess what? I’m bigger than Amazon.”
What is God calling you to? What do you need God to be “bigger than?” What is your Amazon? How has man’s approval/disapproval kept you from taking that next step? I’m praying for you, friend.
UPDATE: NEW, CORRECTED PRINTABLES
The first version of our printables for our month-long series had a few errors. Those errors have been corrected. You can print the new sheets out by clicking here. We apologize for any inconvenience!
This post is part of our month-long series, “A November to Remember: Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes.
How You Can Be a Part of This Movement:
1 – Print out the Scripture sheets. (Click here for printable versions.) Each of the 30 daily Scriptures are quoted in Love Idol, and each one ties back in some way to our identity in Christ. (You don’t have to read the book to participate in this study. But of course, you’re welcome to! 🙂 )
2 – Find the passage assigned for today’s date.
3 – Consider how God is speaking to you. How does the verse help you remember who you really are, outside of all the cultural noise?
4 – Visit us on the blog, or the Love Idol movement page on Facebook, to share what the verse means to you.
5 – Share your insights on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or your blog, to add more soul to your scroll. #MoreSoulLessScroll 🙂 Tag me, so I can find you. (Or feel free to follow along silently! No social-media presence required.)
I’ll post my own response here on the blog every morning at 5 a.m. Sometimes, you’ll find a story, maybe a few short words, maybe a series of photos. That will happen every day, for all of November, God-willing.
Studies show that the best way to form a habit, is to NOT break the chain. Habits form if you keep at it, one day after the next after the next. After our 30 days, we may have created a new habit of Scripture before Scrolling — a habit that can take us into the Christmas season, and beyond.
If you want to follow along, visit us here every day. Consider subscribing to my blog by clicking here to get these reflections in your email inbox.
(Download for printing from Google Drive)
Let this be the November that we remember who we really are: Loved. Preapproved. His.
Find all the posts in the November to Remember series by clicking here.
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I love this post, Jennifer, and I totally resonate with it. Writing a book feels like jumping into a big black hole (to me). You don’t know if you will ever get out, and you don’t know if anyone will ever find you or your book in there once you’ve jumped. I know. I’ve done it (and I surely almost didn’t with what I call my “passion book”–even with a contract in hand–b/c the idol of fear took hold). But God is so faithful, and He equips us to do what He has called us to do. In the end, we must please Him and not others, and we must write whatever message He gives (this applies to anything in life, not just writing, of course). I thought I couldn’t do, because I just knew I’d run out of things to say, and who would read it anyway? And what if I didn’t say it well? And my love idol, which was really self-idolatry (all thoughts focused on me and my inadequacy and not on God’s enabling), almost sabotaged me in publishing the book that He had assigned–just like it happened with you……..and then, most insidious of all, I LOVED my book and thought it was wonderfully well-written (big, ugly confession here), and so the book itself became my own love idol, one, literally of my own making. And so God had me plant that little book on the backside of the desert, because after all, the book was ultimately for Him and had to *be* His–when it was *for* me, it was an idol, and He’ll have no idols placed before Him. I had to relinquish what He had originally assigned and what my own fear had nearly stopped me from writing, and then, once written, He had me release what HE feared would replace Him in my life. Love idols are so insidious, and they can take many forms and even morph into new love idols–one, more dangerous than the last. Love idols love to multiply. I really love this post, b/c you are also helping me to see that not to obey Him–to answer His call, whatever His next assignment may be–is idolatry–putting my own comfort level or fear above Him. I had literally just asked Him early this morning if I am to pursue something, professionally, and He has used your powerful essay as impetus to jump, to buoy up my courage (or more like, lack thereof!) with wings. Thank you, Jennifer, sooooooo much! And I get your meaning about tenant, but it’s actually more helpful for me, personally, to think of God as my resident landlord (b/c I connotatively think of tenant as the dweller who reports to the landlord). At any rate, I know that I, tenant, personaly need to obey this LandLord of my life by caring for the “intellectual property” He has given me to steward…..and that, for me, is weaving words (in many forms and fashions). So, thank you, thank you, for this POWERFUL post, which is giving me courage to say yes to one such word-weaving project today.
I love you, Miss Jennifer, you know?!
That’s it exactly … what you say about the book becoming an idol. Which is why I was equally as scared of “success” as I was of failure. And I was also afraid of what success what make me do next. If the book did well, I might have to step out of relative obscurity and — for instance — SPEAK. Gah! That has been one of the biggest leaps of faith in this journey. I’m sure that you’ve heard that people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of dying. Which (as someone famously said) they would rather be in the casket than deliver the eulogy. 🙂
I am praying for whatever it is that you and the Lord talked about this morning, about something you might pursue professionally. If you want to talk about that at all later, give me a holler. 😉
And I smiled when I read your comment about the landlord. If I changed it to resident landlord, my little graphic wouldn’t look so pretty! LOL! … In all seriousness, He is definitely landlord of my life, but He dwells within me, so He’s a tenant, too. But He’s definitely the boss, even if I try to boss Him around. 🙂
So glad you’re here.
I love you, too.
Actually, I’ve heard you speak (and with a white-fright wig to boot!), and you are wonderful at it. I think it’s ok to extend a compliment, b/c I see you have your head on straight–moreover, your heart. So you are a wonderful speaker! We;re going to keep you o.o. that casket and behind the mic. More fun that way! =] Truly, I get this, too. But God has blessed you with the gift of articulation, whether in writing or in speech, and I love how you are obeying that LandLord. Too funny about the graphic, and actually the way you have it worded on it, has a lovely rhythm to it (I hear words in my head and this has a nice ring). I love your double meaning. And thanks for the invitation to talk. I am always indebted by your kindness!!!
Oh, and pls. tell Lydia, her leaping photo in particular is my courage booster. Love that girl.
I’d meant to thank you so very much for your prayers too!!!
What if you have no Amazon? What if your fear is oblivion? Living small with no feeling a “next step”?
Hey new friend … I’ve been thinking about your comment a lot today. And I’ve been praying for you, for any of us who are feeling ‘small’ in the middle of our ordinary lives. Sometimes, our smallness can open up like a canyon, like a big yawning canyon … and THAT is our Amazon. We feel so small, so as not to even be seen. As I’ve been praying for you, I’ve been thinking about our God who is known as El Roi — the God who sees. I pray that you KNOW that you are seen, and that you feel Him near today. There’s no such thing as a small life in God, dear friend. May you sense how dear you are to Him, right where you are.
Hey friend … hope you’re doing well today. Still praying for you. Also? if you’re following along with the printables, did you happen to see that our first version of the printables had errors? We have the updated ones available, as of yesterday. Be sure to grab those… 🙂
Thank you for your prayers. I actually printed those this morning. I am working through your book. Its going slowly but I am working. You see I am trying to reprogram 30 years of brainwashing from the Jehovah’s Witness upbringing I had, with the real truth about God. I grew up only seeing the judgmental and punishing side, never the “He chose you, preapproved, loved by, thought about” side. I gave my life to Christ 14 years ago as a frightened confused adult and He has brought me far. However, I still struggle believing/abiding in His love for me. I believe it for you and for anyone else, but not me. Its weird. I’ve studied some at seminary, did 8 years with Bible Study Fellowship, and taught Women’s studies when I went to corporate church (we dont attend anymore, we meet weekly with new and unbelievers and study the scriptures). I’ve been to Cuba as a short term missionary and to India to teach women. But all of that was 7 years ago. I thought God had big things for me. There was work, activity and what I thought was going to be extraordinary things in my future. Then I came home from public work. Kept my grandkids for my daughter for a few years while she worked and now I help my husband here with a new business startup. No India, no wow moments, nothing extraordinary, and lots of time to think. I know the cliches..I am in a desert period, or a valley…we can’t always have mountain top experiences…(sorry that sounds a little cynical) but I don’t know, it just seems like I am missing something. I have shared these thought with women like you before. Responded on blogs, sent emails, etc. I’ve been looking for guidance. Unfortunately, no one has ever responded.
So, thank you again for your prayers and for reaching out again today. It means alot.
I am on this journey with you… I want to be so lost in Christ… that these kind of fears are shallowed up in Him… I love listening to people who have found this kind of freedom…like Bob Goff… this guy just moves in such freedom… and I have been listening to Andrew White, the Vicar of Bagdad, … oh my… so powerful… He lives where there are no margins… so risking is just part of life… If you have never heard of him… I encourage you to youtube him… He was here in at a local church… the impact of his words are still working something deeper than words can express!!! And we won’t be called to Bagdad… to be a Bob Goff… but I believe with all that is within me… God longs to set us free so we can Love Him without boundaries and love others as well!!!
Your comment reminds me of Hillsong’s song, Oceans … “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.”
LOVE Bob Goff. What an inspiring, humble, gracious, funny man!
Ro — if you’re following along with the printables, did you happen to see that our first version of the printables had errors? We have the updated ones available, as of yesterday. Be sure to grab those… 🙂
Well Miss Jennifer, today’s Scripture verses spoke to me in a slightly different way. I am not in the professional writing arena and all that comes along with that, but I am fighting a Love Idol battle of my own. And, of course, that idol is me. I have mentioned that I am in a time of seeking personal revival. I realize that in order to FULLY SURRENDER, I must cast off all the things that make me FEAR this revival. I have been lukewarm, neither cold not hot, for some time now. I have not read much Bible, all but given up on quiet time of prayer, allowed all manner of carnal T.V. viewing and such to fill my time. Even my speech, although not foul or coarse, has not contained much of anything spiritual, nothing much to encourage those around me, or myself for that matter.
I realize that full surrender entails not caring what these others will think of me if I change, yet again, to my First Love. And yet, I do care about that. And I know fear still dominates, in that I am afraid of what God may take from me, or what may happen. Am I truly and completely prepared to forsake all, take up my cross, and follow Him in the ‘sold-out’ way I want to, need to?
When I read these verses this morning, of course I was struck again by this issue of people-pleasing, being afraid of people again thinking I’ve “got religion” and therefore will be no fun anymore and will get all holier-than-thou.
I’m sure that’s why Jesus tells us to “count the cost” of following Him with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. Am I prepared to do this, or will I be like these religious leaders in today’s reading? Big question. Big decision.
I always am amazed at how God can use one small verse — just a few words — and speak truth so differently into different people. And when we return to verses weeks or years later, they mean something new entirely. God’s Word is, indeed, living and active!
It sounds like the Spirit is very much ON THE MOVE within you. Praying for you as you lean in and listen to Him.
Oh Jillie, I will be praying!! I SOOOO understand what you are saying. If you’re able, pls. consider reading Carol Kent’s book Unquenchable. I love this lady personally, and she shares so much in this about an on-fire faith…..but all the struggles too. She graciously included my story in it as well…..and as you might imagine, God used journaling to draw me back to Him. I hope you might be able to read her book…..and I pray for His wooing to overwhelm you.
Lynn .. are you following with the printables? if you’re following along with the printables, did you happen to see that our first version of the printables had several errors? We have the updated ones available, as of yesterday. Be sure to grab those… 🙂
so good! My Amazon would be getting so lost in something (like the non-profit for at risk teens that I have no idea how to make) that my own kids take back stage. I am a single momma and my kids feeling like they aren’t parented is a huge fear.
I know in my knower that God has something big for me to do, but the fear of not knowing where to start and feeling like I failed my kids is big too.
Thank you for these daily devotionals…meaty for deep thinking and life changing.
Please know that I am praying with you, for God to help you make big decisions that are right for you and your family.
Oh Lori … a quick note … if you’re following along with the printables, did you happen to see that our first version of the printables had errors? We have the updated ones available, as of yesterday. Be sure to grab those… 🙂
This post is beautiful. I needed it today. I get nervous about taking that next big step with our business. Will 2015 be as good as 2014? I want to be brave and trust that whatever is supposed to happen, will happen. I am thankful for you and your good words.
Praying for you now, Kashoan, as you sort all of this out. Nothing surprises God. He knows how this turns out, and we won’t make you walk there alone. Love you friend!
Thank you for this post…..I so can relate to jumping into the fear. Lately I have been pushing myself and encouraging my friends & loved ones to live in the community of the brave.To dwell in the place where the old nasty dusty voices in our head that speak failure and rejection MUST dissipate in the light of the Love of the One who makes us BRAVE! “For God does not give us a spirit of fear but of LOVE, Power & a SOUND mind” 2Tim 1:17
Our soul & bodies to line up with who HE has called us to be.
That’s a good word, there, Cindy. Thanks.
Oh my goodness Jennifer…..I just re read my post and I think I was preachin’ at myself! haha
Hey Cindy … if you’re following along with the printables, did you happen to see that our first version of the printables had errors? We have the updated ones available, as of yesterday. Be sure to grab those… 🙂
Thank you! I will 🙂
My AMAZON is Thursday night, when I have to get up in front of an audience and talk about my Drake Relays book. I’ll never figure out why I always say yes to these things. Maybe it’s because I believe there will be one magical night when my fear vanishes, and is replaced by a bold new me – brimming with confidence and ready to WOW the audience. The irony is, I’m speaking (and showing photos … lots and lots of photos) as part of the WOW (Wonder of Words) program here in Des Moines. And the problem is, I can’t just rifle through 200 slides – I also have to TALK! I don’t get to hide behind my camera and view the world the way I’m most comfortable – instead, people are viewing me. I’m on display. Ever since I’ve begun reading your blogs (and yes, I did read your book also) I’ve felt like we both came out of the same people-pleasing pod. I’m a Christian, and I’ve prayed many times in situations like this, but the prayers never seem to get to where they’re supposed to go. I’m always nervous, self-conscious and rattled. I hate this stuff (public appearances), but do it out of some kind of warped sense of duty – like it should be my mission to enlighten an audience about something I’ve done. JUST BUY MY BOOK AND LEAVE ME ALONE! That’s what I feel on the eve of this event. I’m rambling now. Any words of wisdom from my pod-mate?
I’m so glad you dropped by, and came out of the shadows to share your heart. Oh, man … my fellow “pod-mate.” Yeah … I get this. I feel your words, deep. I keep asking God, “Is this speaking thing ever going to get easier?” So far, the answer is NO. 🙂 … But you know what, those insecure feelings keep me very, very close to the Lord. Which, I think, is the point.
I am constantly amazed how — all throughout Scripture, and all through human history — God has a penchant for picking people who don’t always feel up to the task. It’s in that place where God’s strength is proven so very, very strong in our weakness. Furthermore, as the old saying goes, God doesn’t always call the qualified, but he qualifies the called. I am praying for you, David, that you can rest in the strength of God, and that you can remember it was He who gave you the gifts that make your art possible in this world. He is asking you to be a good steward of those gifts, by sharing with people who are coming because they want to know more. They are already on your side, so you definitely have that going for you! They are coming, expectant. They aren’t coming, to rip you apart or to pick at the flaws. They are coming because they are excited about what you have to offer. Go in His Strength! And drop me a line here, or by email, or by Facebook, to tell me how it went. You’ll do great. Praying for you.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I will carry these words with me tomorrow, and I’ll let you know how it went.
I just returned home from my presentation. I feel like I just had an “out of body” experience. It all started with a good night’s sleep, which I never get in situations like this. I went over to the Hall of Pride in the afternoon to test out the equipment. There were glitches, but we worked them out. I came home and had less than an hour to get ready. My wife sent me out the door with “brain food”(s’mores with extra chocolate) along with a few prayers.
“Think of me as your Drake Relays good will ambassador,” I started out saying. “If you like my photos, that’s great, but I want them to put you on a path to a greater appreciation of the Drake Relays. That’s my only goal tonight.”
After I said that, everything else flowed like a perfect Lolo Jones hurdle race. I felt the Holy Spirit speaking THROUGH me, and I sensed that I was connecting with the audience. Thank you so much for your prayers and thoughtful perspective.
God is good.
Woot! I’ve been thinking of you throughout the evening, and was hoping for an update. I’m so happy to hear your update, but not at all surprised. God is good. Well done, good and faithful servant. 😉
Well, this hit home for me. One of the reasons I’m afraid of writing a book: I don’t think I could handle the 1-star reviews and criticism. Oh, well. I’ll probably do it anyway, because even less could I handle not finishing it!
The world needs a book by Monica Sharman. Please. Please.
::tears, here:: Because of those fears turned for God’s glory and for speaking that same Truth deep into my knower too.
Praying with you, for you, and for all that God is doing in you and through you. He gave you a good “knower.”
(Also, Tammy … if you’re following along with the printables, did you happen to see that our first version of the printables had errors? We have the updated ones available, as of yesterday. Be sure to grab those… 🙂 )
I love this. Even though I’ve worked hard to overcome the feeling that I need larger stats to make a difference, I still feel as though my chances of being published are difficult because of the size of my platform. Those feelings easily cause fear and doubt. I needed this message today. Thank you!