“It wasn’t for you,” is what I heard inside my head. Feeling lighter, I quickened my pace immediately. I was about 2/3 of the way into my evening walk, alongside the Black’s significant fence beside Mockingbird, about halfway between Alysheba Lane and A Street, when I heard the voice of God say, “It wasn’t for you.”
I had been listening to a podcast about trail running and why our fear of failure controls so many of our thoughts and actions when I recalled the story I’d been telling myself since 1986, “You weren’t good enough.” It stemmed from a promotion and transfer I received from my employer, which was later yanked away for reasons that were never explained to me and left me to assume I didn’t measure up in the eyes of senior management. I wasn’t good enough as an engineer.
Since 1986 I’ve outgrown much of the resentment that came from that career-changing incident. I’ve learned to look back at the changes in our lives that wouldn’t have happened had we made the move, the ministries we wouldn’t have that are so important to us today, and the effect on people around us that probably would never occur. All the time I spent in city government would not have been possible had we made the move. In my rational mind I had redeemed the story of 1986 and been thankful for our life today.
But then, while listening to that podcast about fear of failure, I could still hear the old story, you weren’t good enough, ricocheting in my head. I knew that at a heart level it was still haunting me.
“What does God’s voice sound like?” is a reasonable question to ask someone like me who claims to hear God speaking to him. And for me, his voice always sounds exactly like my own voice inside my head.
So what does Satan’s voice sound like? Unfortunately, it sounds the same. It sounds like my own voice in my own head.
Yet, even though the two voices might sound the same, it is easy to tell them apart. Satan’s voice is condemning and shaming, and it comes with a long list of reasons why I shouldn’t act in faith. God’s voice is reassuring and enlightening and opens my heart to move forward.
“It wasn’t for you.” And in that moment, in that instance, I finally realized that the real story from 1986 was not the one I’d been telling myself for 30 years. I had not been held back by a short-sighted employer as I thought, but I’d been set free by God. The promotion, the opportunity, might’ve been a good career move, but it wasn’t right for me. It wasn’t right for the future God had in mind for our family.
Why wasn’t it for me? The fact is, if the job had worked out, I would probably be a mid-to-upper level manager today in a major oil company, pulling down big dollars, living in a giant house, and spending lavishly on my lovely wife. But what would be the effect of our lives besides oil and gas? Where would our lasting impact be?
The true story isn’t that “I wasn’t good enough,” but that God had a better plan. The corporate climb might be God’s will for some, but it wasn’t for me. He wanted me to stay in Midland for a long time and invest in the people he brought to us, not invest in a corporate career. I could never have made that decision on my own, I needed God’s intervention. I needed to be set free.
How about you? What are the lies Satan whispers into your ears? It isn’t the only story – God has the true story of your life and he wants you to know it.
The Bible says, you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:32 NIV). Whenever I get a piece of the truth like the bit I received Tuesday night, it feels like freedom. I want more.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32
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