Letting Go of Promises?

Have you ever felt strongly that there was something God called you to, God gave to you, but at the same time you were forced to let it go? I’m struggling through that now. I can’t explain it. I’m frustrated by the fact that it seemed to have been confirmed through circumstances, open doors and other people. I know Lysa Terkeurst described a similar circumstance in her Bible Study Trustworthy, but I’ll be honest: my emotions have been to raw to delve into it.

That said, I’m reminded of an experience I had with worship ministry a number of years ago. I had been so involved with ministry on so many levels that I burned out. Women’s ministry, youth ministry, music ministry in various forms… one by one they kind of stopped and finally my pastor had to insist that I “sit out” of youth ministry for a while. All of a sudden there was just nothing. I believed so strongly that I was called to worship ministry in particular, and it had always been so clear. Not only was that gone, everything else was too. I remember telling my pastor at one point that I felt like Moses on the back side of the desert herding a bunch of sheep. You know, he had been called to deliver his people, killed the Egyptian and buried his body in the sand, and then had to run away to Midian where he lived for many years before the Lord appeared to him in the burning bush and told him to go back to Egypt and deliver the Israelites.

I’m no deliverer, but I have to admit that God used that time to reveal to me that my heart toward music ministry was not right. There was some envy and jealousy and feeling that I wasn’t getting “recognized” the way I wished. Altogether, my heart was wrong about it. I had always craved affirmation and attention, and certainly being a worship leader made me someone special, right? Wrong.

Years before this, I had stepped down from another music ministry, and been told by an elder, “You know you belong up there, right?” I had to insist “No I don’t.” But in my heart at that time I still believed I did, I just wasn’t happy about what was going on in that particular place. Those were different circumstances, and I still had a pride and immaturity which God would wait another few years to deal with. When He finally did, as the period of time grew that I was not involved, I really had to come to the point where I didn’t believe I belonged up there anymore. What’s more, I was totally OK with it. The longing, whether it was my flesh or a belief in His calling, was just totally gone.

To this day I can’t really explain what brought me to that point. It was a combination of filling my life with Himself and giving me other things to do. I’m honestly humbled that He even brought me back, because He didn’t have to. I knew my heart had been wrong, but for the first part of that season of “wilderness,” I really wanted to go back and do it right, so for a long time I prayed Psalm 20:4, “May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose.” I felt Psalm 21:2 contained a promise that He would: “You have given {the king} his heart’s desire, and have not withheld the request from his lips.” But at some point, again, I remember coming to the realization that I no longer cared if He did or not. It was so freeing, such a relief. Instead of hurting and longing, I just didn’t care. I had peace. For a long time I don’t think it even entered my mind.

I actually feel like I had to be forced back in. Not in a cruel way, God just had to make it very obvious and a few things the pastor said clarified for me it was time for me to take it up again. Since then it’s just been a blessing for me. I don’t care about my “position,” I really feel like I can just worship and not be seen. And I’m not grasping at it with all my strength trying to prove myself.

I don’t know that the difficulty I’m currently facing will turn out the same way. Again I feel like God has shown me this and others have confirmed it. Therein lies my frustration. My prayer, though, is that I come to that same point, where I no longer care about the outcome. I feel like I’ve been gripping it so tight that it has become a burden to me. Psalm 55:22 tells us to “Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you.” My pastor urged me to pray that if it is not God’s will, He would take the desire away. Certainly that is something to pray, but right now I am kind of praying He will take the desire away for now even if it is His will, because waiting for the fulfillment of that purpose is also a burden. I want to feel as free as I felt when I finally stopped worrying whether I’d ever get back into worship ministry. Have you ever experienced a release like that? Just truly, “Lord, You’re enough.”

I want to be His peaceful, happy child. 2 Timothy 2:24 says, “The servant of the Lord must not quarrel…” The word “quarrel” can also be translated “strive.” Psalm 46:10, which we all know and love, says, “Be still and know that I am God,” which can also be translated “Cease striving and know…”. But when we’re grasping at something with all our might we can’t do that. When it’s causing us anxiety, we can’t rest and return to Him (Isaiah 30:15).

Sometimes we misjudge something as a promise by hearing what we want to hear, but sometimes they really are promises that God intends to fulfill. It’s hard to understand how these promises can co-exist with the idea of “letting go and moving on,” but I guess all this is to say that it is possible. Certainly Moses had to “let go and move on” before he became the deliverer of Israel. Perhaps he had given up completely and was at peace with herding sheep for his father in law on the backside of the desert. Perhaps that explains some of his unbelief when God finally called him back into service.

On a side note, I’m happy to say that Sani is now published as a paperback as well as an e-book. I do hope to do a book signing at Parable Bookstore in July, so if you live locally consider waiting to purchase it until you can come say hi!

2 thoughts on “Letting Go of Promises?

  1. My dearest sister in Christ. I feel as if I know you so much better after reading your blog. I just completed reading the very last page of Sani and I am in tears. Beautiful and wonderful book in every sense. Thank you. I have enjoyed every page one after the other, always with difficulty emotionally at times, and with joy. You evoke every emotion in your readers. Thank you for your obedience to the calling which the Lord has spoken to your heart. I pray there will be more books and I will be the first to stand in line to purchase them. Always in my prayers.
    Your sister in Christ, Debbie Gonzalez


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