What Happened When I Didn’t Listen to God

It’s funny to me how we tend to rush seasons before their time. Starbucks releases the Pumpkin Spice Latte in early September now, and at least in Oklahoma, it’s still in the high 80s and nowhere close to autumn at that time.

Perhaps getting your PSL a little earlier isn’t going to harm anyone, but I think we do this in the seasons of our life as well. When you’re in high school, you want nothing more than to move on to college. When you’re single, you just really want to be married. Sometimes you’re supposed to be in season of focusing on your work. Other times you’re supposed to be in a season of resting.

I love the way Solomon writes it in the book of Ecclesiastes:

“Everything on earth has its own time and its own season.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1 CEVUS06

At times, you can feel an “itch” in your soul—a discontent that can’t be described with words. This feeling may be the sign of a new season that needs to begin and an old one that needs to be let go of. Recently, I felt this “itch” and assumed I needed to start something and do some new things. After just a few weeks, I found myself exhausted emotionally. Why? Because that’s not what I was supposed to do. I needed less, not more. I needed more rest, not more hustle.

So how did I get them wrong? To be honest, I didn’t seek God’s wisdom. I just did what I thought I was supposed to do, but I failed to actually ask the Holy Spirit to guide me during that new season.

Here’s the good news: it’s never too late with God. When I admitted that I had been living out of step with Him and rushing the season I was in, I experienced His overwhelming peace.

I thought it was best to add more tasks, but I’m realizing God wanted me to let go of some things instead. This season for me is meant to be a season of simplifying, not complicating.

It could look completely different for you, but if you feel that you’re out of step with God, I would implore you to ask Him what season you’re meant to be in right now.

Stop Being a Peacekeeper


“Blessed are the peacemakers,” Jesus said in Matthew 5:9, “for they will be called children of God.” When I was reading this verse recently, I realized that the specific word Jesus used—peacemaker—has enormous implications. By default, I always assume that I’m a peacemaker. I don’t commit crimes or cause trouble or anything like that. But that doesn’t make me a peacemaker—that makes me a peacekeeper.

There are many times where I’m frustrated with a situation and I complain about it. After all, it’s always someone else’s job to fix it, right? I often feel like the youngest, not-as-educated, the mostly-here-by-accident person. It would be easy to go along with the motions, riding out the bumps, always expecting someone more qualified than me to fix the problems.

A peacekeeper is someone who goes through life not causing trouble but not really making any positive change either. A peacemaker, however, is someone who actively looks to bring light to the darkness.

It doesn’t matter what your position or authority is, you have the ability (and the responsibility) as a Jesus-follower to not simply be a person who doesn’t cause trouble, but someone who changes the culture of your environment.

If your work environment is toxic, it’s your responsibility not only to not participate in the toxicity, but to actively work to make it a better place. Instead of complaining about your friends not wanting to hang out with you, it’s your responsibility to actively work to be a better friend to them.

The condition that makes this more difficult—and the reason why we often slip into apathy and peacekeeping over peacemaking—is that we can’t always see the results of our peacemaking efforts. Sometimes things don’t change and the situation still goes unsolved. Was all that work for nothing?

You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. — Matthew 5:9 MSG 

Jesus didn’t say that you would be blessed if you fixed everything. He said you would be blessed when you show people how to cooperate. It doesn’t say that you’re only blessed if you resolve everything.

No matter how difficult it is, we have a responsibility as followers of Jesus to make the situations around us better—not simply by keeping the peace and not causing trouble, but by actively working to bring light where there’s darkness.

When You Work for God but Don’t Know Him

I’ve spent the majority of my life “doing things” for God—volunteering at a church, internships at a church, working at a church, and so on. These are all great, wonderful things and amazing experiences, and I absolutely love my current job and the people I get to do ministry with.

However, somewhere along the way, I’ve managed to work for God without really spending much time with Him. I’ve taken marching orders from Him, like a good Christian soldier on a mission to save the world, but I haven’t allowed myself space to just be still and be loved by Him.

“Many of us who have found ourselves to be useful in Christian service have found ourselves unable, if we’re honest, to connect with God any other way. We do for Him, instead of being with Him. We become soldiers, instead of brothers and sisters and daughters and sons.” — Shauna Niequist

I’ll call it what it is: I’ve allowed doing work for God to be more important than God doing work in me. But no more of that. That’s simply unhealthy, and quite frankly, unholy.

When you were a kid, you probably had some chores. You may or may not have gotten paid to do them, but they were your responsibility nonetheless. You didn’t have chores because you were an employee—you had responsibilities because you were a part of a family. So I’m turning in my employee badge. I’m going home. Home to Him, home to the family He invites me to be a part of. And yes, that comes with some responsibility, but it’s the responsibility I have as His child, not as His soldier.

I’m learning that for God to do great, big, amazing things through you He first has to do great, big, amazing things in you. So I’m prioritizing my spiritual health over my accomplishments. I’ve going to prioritize my relationships—with my wife, with my church family, with my co-workers—over pretending to have my life all together. I’m going to start saying “no” to things that I’ve only said “yes” to in the past because they’ve looked good for outside appearances.

It’s not going to be easy and it’s not going to be quick. But slowly, over time, I’m going to make my way back to living like His son and not His solider. I’m going to live more like His child, who He bought and already paid a high price for, and not a worker acting like I need to earn my way to salvation.

On Being Present


As I’m writing this, I’m four days away from getting married to my best friend. For the past few months, I’ve literally been counting down the days until this incredibly, amazingly exciting day that’s approaching very quickly.

One thing I’ve learned during the anticipation of our wedding day is how much weight we tend to put on certain “big” days—graduating, starting a new job, getting married, having kids, retiring, and so on. This isn’t inherently a bad thing—it’s good to anticipate those things, and we should absolutely be excited for them. Unfortunately, in our longing and expectation for the “big” moments we tend to miss out on our actual life happening in the small, everyday moments.

The beauty of life is not in how big our highlights are, but in how purposeful our everyday is. 

You can wish for a different yesterday and be regretful, or worry about what will happen tomorrow and be anxious, but I believe God calls us to live in the present—today, right here.

I’m so excited to get married this weekend, but I’m also equally as excited for the ordinary days that follow where I get to spend them with my best friend. I want to wake up every single day knowing how extraordinary the ordinary things in life really are. I want to live life every day in such a way that might make God smile and be thankful He gave me a gift I enjoyed so well.

Time does fly by quickly, and life is short, but I think when we begin live presently and purposefully we’re able to slow it down just a bit.

Let’s be present today, friends.

“God must be a pretty big fan of today, because you keep waking up to it. You have made known your request for a hundred different yesterdays, but the sun keeps rising on this thing that has never been known.” ― Jamie Tworkowski

Calling Over Convenience

Recently, I read a quote by a fantastic author named Jennie Allen. She that said we should thank God for both the seemingly good things and the seemingly bad things in life, because sometimes you don’t really know the difference until you get to heaven. 

In my life, I’ve had many experiences where something I felt was horrible in the moment turned out to be something that provided healing. There have been times where things have been so bad I’ve wanted to quit and then breakthrough was coming just around the corner. In contrast, there have been many times when I’ve pursued something—or almost pursed something—that wasn’t a bad thing, but wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing. 

A few years ago, I was planning on going to college like most other bright-eyed 18-year-olds in America. Going to college is not at all a bad thing. In fact, it’s a great thing that a lot of people benefit from and should do. But for me, it would have be a convenient path that I knew in my heart God didn’t want me to take. Around that same time, I applied for a job across the country at a church I loved and admired but never thought I was qualified to be a part of in a staff role. But a few months later, I packed up everything and moved to Oklahoma from Ohio; over a day’s worth of driving from my hometown. 

Why did I do this? Because my calling was more important than my convenience. That decision has and will continue to change the trajectory of my life for the better, but at the time it was not the easiest, safest, and certainly not the most convenient option. 

But enough about me.

What is that God is calling you to do that doesn’t make sense but you know in your heart is the right thing? Is it a story similar to mine, taking a risk and moving somewhere or changing careers? Is it adopting or fostering a child when you’ve always only wanted biological children? Is it giving up your dream of starting a business to pursue ministry elsewhere? I can’t answer that for you, but I believe you already know the answer. 

Here’s the point: sometimes we avoid really hard and difficult things in life because it’s simply not convenient. But I don’t think God works in the easy things, to be honest. I think he grows and stretches us through difficulty and struggle that leads to greater joy on the other side. 

God has a unique, amazing, and adventurous calling on your life. Sadly, however, we often settle for mediocre lives out of fear of discomfort. I don’t want to be that way, though. I want to pursue God’s calling over my convenience, and I hope you’ll choose to do the same. 

You Don’t Have to Fake It Anymore

A few weeks ago, I had lunch with a friend and told him about something I was struggling with and doubts that I had. It’s something that, for years, I had been afraid to tell anyone. It wasn’t even a big deal, but there was an underlying fear that I would be found out; I would be a fraud.

For a long time, “I don’t know” was an answer I was afraid of. Whether it was about faith, work, or anything else, I felt that I was expected to know the answer. And the older I get, the more “I don’t know” seems to be the appropriate response for a lot of things. Right now I’m reading through the Bible in a year, and sometimes there are things I struggle with and things I don’t understand. Faith is far more complicated as an adult when you are surrounded with the reality of brokenness in the world. Somewhere along the way, however, I realized that God is still good no matter what and I didn’t have to defend Him—He never expected me to have all the answers all along. 

I used to (and still do, sometimes) feel like I have to have it all together, and that I have all the right answers. I work for a church, and sometimes I feel guilty when I have doubts to wrestle with—not because anyone else makes me feel that way, but because there’s a voice inside me sometimes that whispers, “You’re not good enough for this. You’re just faking it.” 

Today is Good Friday, where we celebrate Jesus’ sacrifice and death. I think about how all of Jesus’ disciples doubted Him at some point; some more than others. Some even abandoned him completely, and He still took them back and let them lead the whole thing. I think I’m a lot like Jesus’ disciples most times—broken, doubting, fearful, but still chosen by Him. 

I don’t know all the right answers. There’s a lot of things about Jesus and Bible and faith I don’t understand, but I do know one thing: I was dead, and Jesus made me alive. I believe Jesus was resurrected because He’s resurrected me.  

Hillsong Worship has a new song called “Grace to Grace”, and I’ve been playing it over and over again the past few days. There’s a particular line that love:

When I see that Cross, I see freedom. 

I hope that’s true for you today, like it is for me. No matter how unworthy you feel and what you’ve been carrying, you’ll see the freedom in the Cross. 

Freedom from faking it. 

Freedom from our secrets.

Freedom from our sins.

Freedom from death.

There’s freedom for you in the Cross of Jesus today, friend. You don’t have to fake it anymore. 

When God Takes You Through the Desert

During one of my drives home from the gym this week, I was listening to a podcast where an author on the show mentioned how sometimes we can feel like we’re in dry, desert seasons of life and we feel like we’re wandering spiritually. She gave the example of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness, how even though God had brought Israel out of Egypt, He still needed to take Egypt out of them. He needed for them to be refined in His ways and break away from the ways they picked up from the Egyptians. 

As I began to think about that, I’ve realized that’s what God has always done in my life. There have been times where it appears as though I’ve reached the top of a mountain, but it feels a lot like wandering in the desert, dying of thirst. 

It’s easy for me, and perhaps you as well, to immediately blame ourselves for these times. If only we prayed more, read our Bible more, served more, or had just been “better” Christians, we wouldn’t be feeling like this—right?

Here’s what I’m learning: sometimes God takes you through the desert. And it sucks. At least at first. 

In Exodus 13, Pharaoh finally lets the people of Israel go, and this is what the text says: 

“…God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land … So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea.” (Exodus 13:17-18 NLT)

Did you catch that? God led them on a longer, more inconvenient, roundabout path that would have them barreling straight for the Red Sea—the setting where one of His greatest miracles was about to take place. 

For us, especially as Americans, we want the quickest, easiest path. But sometimes for God to use you greatly and do a miracle through you He has to do a miracle in you. He needs to take Egypt out of you, not just take you out of Egypt, so to speak. 

Maybe that’s where you’re at right now. It feels as if your life is taking the most inconvenient route, and you’re wondering if you’ll ever make it to the Promised Land. Here’s what I know: the settings for God’s greatest miracles often come from our greatest trials and disappointments. 

If life isn’t quite going your way right now and you feel stuck in the wilderness, perhaps God is about to do a miracle in you and through you that is far greater than you ever imagined.