“Where am I not abiding in Him?”

It was my prayer last weekend during a quiet time with the Father that He would show me where I have not been abiding in Him. As I looked out across the mountains of Tennessee, He began to show me. I was reminded of how much I feed on words of affirmation and encouragement that others speak over me. He showed me that I’ve relied on the confirmations of others so much—to strengthen me and build my confidence—that I’ve begun to make their opinions an idol in my life. I’ve allowed people to be my source of strength and confidence instead of Him. In that moment, I knew my Father’s heart for me was to open my eyes to this area of my heart so that He could bring freedom where I had created a form of bondage.

Feeling that need to seek the approval of others has kept me in bondage.

I’m realizing that I’ve consistently waited for their opinions and confirmations before feeling free to take what I’ve heard the Father say and act on it. This needs to be addressed as I don’t want to stay dependent on others. Not only does this tendency put others before God, but it also puts pressure on them that should not be there. I want to be so caught up IN HIM that I can walk boldly, without relying on people’s affirmations to make me feel confident. I can move freely in what He’s told me to do or say and yet, still have a humble heart. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t go to others for confirmation that we’re hearing the Lord, but I’m recognizing that we shouldn’t rely so much on others that our faith is put on man rather than in God.

As I prayed more about this, I felt drawn to Proverbs 29:25, “The fear of man brings a snare. But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.”

The word ‘snare’ stuck out to me: “A trap; a device designed to entrap things, typically made with a noose of wire or cord.”

This definition helped me see that finding my approval in people brings a snare; it will cause me to kill who I really am. BUT, if my Father is my source and I trust Him for what I need, I will be safe.

For SO long, I’ve been trying to find a form of safety in others; a place where I can consistently hear, “yes, you’re hearing from the Lord” or “you are accepted here”, etc. When really, He is my safe place. He keeps me safe from the things that entrap me, the things that hinder me and make me doubt myself. When I allow Him to be my safe place, I can walk confidently, knowing that my Father will faithfully show me what’s really ‘of Him’ and what isn’t.

“For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10

There may be times when God confirms what we’re hearing from Him through the discernment of others, and that’s awesome! But it’s when we seek people FIRST—before seeking Him for what we need—that causes us to misplace our relationship with our Father. I think we can know the difference in our hearts between seeking others out of wisdom and seeking them out of fear or self-doubt. I believe that if we seek Him first— listen to Him, learn to trust Him, have relationship with Him, and then go forth and do what He says to do or say— that confirmation will come.

But, we also need to be ok if we get it “wrong.” This is something that we need to get comfortable with (and I’m totally talking to myself here, too!). If we don’t make mistakes, we won’t learn much.

Each mistake we make takes us closer to knowing more about the Father’s heart. Making mistakes is vital to growing in our identities and in relationship with the Lord. It’s part of opening ourselves up to being taught by Him. Mistakes help reveal any area of our lives where we’ve never been taught how to do something, or where we’ve learned to do it the world’s way instead of His way.

Mistakes show us that we’re still learning; but I haven’t always seen it this way. I used to be afraid of not representing the Father’s heart “right.” But, if we—those of us who know that we have a good Father—portray ourselves as people who never make mistakes, how will those who don’t know Him the way we do gain the courage to step out of their protective shells and try anything? Let’s be real so that others can get comfortable with being real, too; let’s open our hearts so that others will find the courage to open theirs, too.

Can we ALL (including me) take that step out and stop looking around so much for others to affirm us—who push us into trusting what the Father is showing us to do or say—and just go directly to Him? Can we all get so caught up IN HIM that His words burn in our hearts, and we trust ourselves to step out in faith even when doubt comes? Let’s get rooted and caught up in Him. I believe there will be a day when He will tell us to say or do something, and if we are not abiding in Him, rooted in His love for us, we will miss it because we were more concerned with the “yes” from man instead of God.

It’s so important that we search our hearts and make sure He’s our source; that other’s voices haven’t become our idols.

Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

The Father is always with us and if we let Him, He will teach us to confidently know His voice. If the Father has trusted us to go out into the world and carry good news to all people, then why wouldn’t He trust us to bring forth what He’s spoken to us to do?