The Peril of People Pleasing

So my journey through “The Dream Giver” is continuing.

I’m onto chapter 3 now, which tells of Ordinary’s encounter with the Borderland Bullies.

Sometimes when we move towards what we believe God has called us to do we encounter resistance. The resistance most often comes from people we know well, and who we love and respect. So we have a choice. Standing at the precipice of a choice that will change our lives, what do we do?

Around 20 years ago I had that choice.

I went to the first of several conferences where Andrew Wommack, Dave Duell, Wendell Parr, Don Francisco and some others were the central speakers and leaders. When I sat for five days in that atmosphere and watched people change, lives transform and saw miracle after miracle of healing it impacted me in a massive way. This, I thought to myself, is what Christianity is really supposed to look like.

I felt God’s presence in a more urgent way than I ever had done before. When I left, I knew I could never be the same again.

On getting home, I met up with some much loved (and sorely missed) friends from church. I shared what I’d seen that week, but there was one person missing. Marmaduke (not his real name) called and asked us to pick him up. When I got there, I could see there was something not right. His normally unstoppable smile was gone, and there was a great heaviness on his shoulders. A good friend of his who was not a Christian had been killed in an accident that day, leaving a widow and a young family.

The Spirit leaped inside me. Go and pray – Signs and Wonders Follow the Believer!

I immediately said to Marmaduke that I wanted to go and pray, and that I was absolutely certain we would see the man raised from the dead. And I mean ABSOLUTELY certain. I was more sure of it than I was that the car could carry all of us or that the sky was blue.

Marmaduke smiled and said to me “You don’t get it, Dave. She’s not a Christian either.”

I said “So what?” and he replied “What if you pray and nothing happens? It would destroy everything God’s been doing in that family.”

I thought for a moment, and then looked around the car. Everybody agreed with Marmaduke. Then came the crunch. “After all, why should it happen when one of us asks? We’re not ‘famous’ like that.”

I should have recognised the smell of brimstone. Or at least spotted the sulphur on the words. But I didn’t.

Deflated, I agreed that we weren’t “famous” Christians. That kind of thing was “beyond” us. God only really did that sort of thing for people who are “somebody” in the Kingdom.

I’d been formulating the idea for this ministry at the time as well. Blogs were still rare back then. In fact, most households still didn’t have satellite television and coped on only four channels. I was unusual in the church as I had satellite TV and a computer with internet access. I’d even registered eagleswingministries.org with a host – but had absolutely no clue about building a website, operating a blog or anything else that I’d need. All I had was a name and an idea.

But I wasn’t famous. So I didn’t renew the domain name, I let the idea for an internet presence fall away, and I stopped planning my book.

A year or so later I tried to re-register the domain, but it had been taken by another person so I gave up.

The bullies in my borderland had won that round.

Now at this point I need to say something critically important. Border-bullies often aren’t people who want to tear you down. Some are, but most are people who genuinely love us and want the very best for us. That’s why we listen to them.

Even Jesus had a border-bully.

Don’t believe me? Check it out:

 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

Mark 8:31-33 NKJV

Moments earlier, Peter had told Jesus he knew He was the Messiah. Jesus outlines exactly what that means, and Peter becomes a border-bully. Not because he doubted Jesus, but because he loved Him so much he couldn’t bear the idea of Him going to the Cross and dying that way. He missed the part where Jesus points out He would rise again because he got caught on the bit where his best friend dies the most horrific death imaginable.

In “Risen”, Clavius describes crucifixion to one of the disciples. He throws the nails onto the table with a clatter. They are driven through the wrist and the bones rub on them. Breathing is like sucking in air through a wet rag and you realise for the rest of your life you will never breathe easily again. Nails through the feet mean you have to choose between the agony of your lungs collapsing under your own weight and the pain in your wrists, and the equal agony of trying just for a moment to ease that main by taking your weight on your feet. Most take days to die. From the descriprepossessed giftions in the Gospels we know Jesus took around six hours to suffocate.

From man’s perspective.

What truly happened was that He chose the exact moment. He gave a cry, more like the roar of the Lion of Judah, and yielded up His Spirit.

And at that point Satan realised what had happened…

Now people have regularly criticised me in the past for “adult” language when I talk (although I think that gif is the first time I let something into the blog). I go through phases where I swear like a trooper, and times when I hardly ever swear.

Back to the story…

Jesus reached the Cross because He didn’t pay heed to the border-bully in Peter (note: it wasn’t actually Peter). As a result, we have a relationship with God.

Things changed for me. Around 2010 I did a search and found the domain name was available again, so I bought it. Almost immediately things began to go badly outside my vision.

The difference is that now I can recognise a border bully. I can resist them (usually).

But it’s hard. My biggest cheering section is undoubtedly my wife. But at the same time, she can also be the most aggressive at trying to stop me moving into what God has put in front of me.

The last 7 years have produced enough stuff to fill a three-book series to rival Lord of the Rings in length, so I’ll focus right now on where I am as I sit here today.

A year ago we knew we needed to move to England, but the doors kept closing. We were in a flat in Cape Town and doing better than we had for a while, but we both felt we needed the move. We had different reasons, but we both felt the same thing. So when by November we were moving out of the flat to move back in with my mum we had become a little dejected.

Actually, we had become very unhappy.

Then she got the call to say there was a job in Somerset – maybe.

So an interview was set up for January. It went well and she was offered the job the next day, start date ASAP. It took nearly four months thanks to paperwork and legal hoops, but now I sit here in England writing.

My vision seems so much more viable here than it did in Cape Town somehow, but there’s a stumbling block to stepping out into it. I know my wife would feel more settled if I went out and got a “normal” job with a boss and an office and a steady pay-check. It would take the pressure off her to “perform” at the job she’s in (although she loves it) and she’d be able to relax more.

But just the thought of that kind of existence weighs on my heart. I’m praying what the way forward is from here. I know what I feel God has called me to, but I find myself questioning the timing, the form of the next step and even if now I’m here if it is the right direction.

My wife’s issues about my direction and my vision actually help me though. In order to help her see God’s hand guiding me through the next few weeks and months I will have to be far more proactive in seeking His face and listening for His guidance for what the next steps are. I need to be like King David and place my battle-plan before Him and ask His guidance. Ironically, I used to do that all the time but I’ve gotten out of the habit.

The next few days & weeks are going to be challenging, but no more so than the last 32 years have been.

So from this chapter I’ve found and remembered a few things:

  • Often times the people who will give you most objection are the people in your immediate circle. Leaving your comfort zone will upset theirs as well
  • The people who really care about you are usually trying to look out for you to not get hurt as well as trying to avoid their own discomfort
  • Just because someone is a “border bully” doesn’t mean their objections are without merit. Use them to focus your vision
  • Not everyone can be swayed to support your dreams. It’s hard, but sometimes you have to leave those people behind

One final thing…

My greatest supporters have always been close friends, but people whose lives wouldn’t be turned completely upside down whether I follow God’s direction or not – so people who care about me but care more about being right with God. They are the best ones to look to for advice and to pray through stuff with.

 

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