Against the Grain

November 30, 2018

For am I now seeking the approval of man or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10

I hate being misunderstood.

It’s one of the most frustrating things for me – I’m saying something, doing something and people (even people who are supposed to know me) interpret it another way.

Put their own spin on it.

Tell me I’m not trusting God or some such thing.

God’s upside down, inside out ways call His people to go against the grain.

When I go against the grain, I get splinters.

Splinters of judgment.

Splinters of rejection.

Splinters of gossip.

Splinters of misunderstanding.

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart. Proverbs 21:2

There are times I can’t serve or please both God and people.

I must value God’s way first and best and most.

Trust He sees my heart and knows the truth.

Take the disciples….the first ones Jesus called were fishermen.

Ordinary men who rose early, gathered their nets and proceeded to the shore.

It’s was a day like any other until Jesus showed up.

Nets cast mid-air….“Come follow Me.”

Matthew 4:20 says:

“At once they left their nets and followed Him.”

At once.

It doesn’t say they went home, packed a bag, said good bye to their loved ones – it says “at once”.

Immediately.

Can you imagine the village gossip?

“Did you hear? Simon Peter just left everything, walked away from his business and family to follow some man who showed up on the beach.”

“Maybe it’s just a cover and he’s really having an affair.”

“I saw him drink a glass of wine last week….I wonder if he has a problem we don’t know about.”

“I can’t believe he’d just leave like that….if my husband did that I’d have him jailed for desertion.”

The ways of God aren’t the ways of man.

In His upside down economy the weak are strong, the fools wise.

Luke 7:36-50 tells another story – one of a party crasher.

It’s a respectable party at a religious leader’s home. They are seated having polite conversation when a prostitute from town learns Jesus is there.

She immediately decides to pop in with her prize possession – an expensive jar of perfume.

Seeing Jesus, she is overcome with emotion and begins to cry.

The woman lets down her hair (scandalous by itself in that time and culture) and begins to wash the feet of Jesus with her tears and dries them with her hair.

Scripture says she kissed His feet many times and rubbed them with perfume.

Kissed His feet.

A woman of poor reputation and a life of sin shows up in the religious leader’s uptight, self righteous home to encounter Jesus.

Unwelcome and uninvited.

They are horrified.

Their reaction is to dismiss the woman and discredit Jesus.

“If He were a prophet, He would know that the woman touching Him is a sinner!”

“How dare she!”

“I mean, who does that?”

Those who witness the scene miss the picture of love, forgiveness and grace.

They see through the eyes of judgment and men, not the heart of God.

God calls uncommon people to do unusual things. Click To Tweet

Things that don’t make sense.

Things that go against the grain.

• God called a murdering stutterer to confront the most powerful man in Egypt.

• Noah was told to build a boat to prepare for a flood in a world that had never seen rain.

• A seven time march toppled a city.

• A murdering adulterer God says has a heart like His and chooses his lineage for His own.

• An unwed, young girl mothered the Messiah.

When Jesus arrived, He went largely unnoticed because people expected the Messiah to come as a wealthy, powerful king not a baby in a stable.

God’s ways defy reason.

He is the Word made man.

Godhead three in one.

He walks on water, parts seas, brings dead things to life.

He is miracles and magic and wonder.

Stars and galaxies.

Dirt and dust.

We want to use rules and logic to define Him.

The wild, radical love of God can never be tamed or fully understood.

Make room.

Make room for miracles and magic.

Make room for things not understood.

Choose love over judgment – it covers a multitude of sins.

Let words be kind, seasoned with grace, truth and love.

Trust God and lean not on my own understanding.

We are all called to go against the grain.

Seeking the approval and love of man is an enemy tactic to keep me from the will of God.

Religious sedative.

Spiritual spa to serve the saved.

Choose this day whom I will serve.

I can’t serve two masters.

People approval is about me – not God.

His Ways are counter intuitive and go against the grain – if I’m following, mine will too.
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Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24

More about Liz

I'm a free spirit. I hate rules and legalism. I love art and nature, music, the beach and dogs. I like to garden, take pictures and read. I tend to speak my mind and have a rip-the-band-aid -off approach to life. (Brace yourself, this might hurt.)

26 Comments
    1. Liz, it is such a challenge for most of us to consistently look vertically to God rather than horizontally towards people for validation. We can drawn into caring more about what people think than how God sees us. And as you write, just like wth the call of the first disciples, people may not understand why we choose to listen and obey God’s call on our lives.

      1. Hi Anne! Thanks for a great comment…people approval has been a battle for me for many years. It’s a blessing to get unhooked from most of it. God calls me to do uncomfortable things (walk up to a stranger and pray with them) If I worry about what others think, I miss out. Love your heart for Him. ❤️

    1. This blog gives me such courage to keep following the steps God has shown me. He can use any and all of us to accomplish His works. Our past or lack of skills does not keep us from His service. God uses our weaknesses to teach the world.

      1. Hi Yvonne – such great words! I love how you remind and encourage me that my mistakes and lack of skills mean nothing to the Maker. He still has a place and purpose for me in the kingdom. Thank you sister – you encouraged me. ❤️

    1. Dear sister Liz,
      Your message really touched my ❤ this
      morning, especially about the story of the prostitute.
      We do need 2 look at people through Jesus’ eyes & not
      our own. It reminds me of what Paul said,” I am the biggest sinner of them all.” That is me as well. I may not have been a prostitute, but I sinned badly. What a good God we serve 2 love us & forgive up the way He does.

      1. Hi Sonja! His love and forgiveness is so amazing…I’m right there with you – that He could love a sinner like me and continue to love and pursue me even when I put other people and things before Him. As you said…What a God we serve. Love you sister – your comment blessed me. ❤️

      1. Hi Julie! Yes – I need that reminder too…it’s so easy for me to get distracted and wrapped up in my own stuff. Thank you for reading and commenting – great to have you here. ❤️

    1. I love this! I once heard Jesus described as “subversive” – he’s definitely unexpected. His ways are not our ways & he wasn’t the king in the way they thought he would be. God keeps us on our toes for sure.

      1. Hi Christina! Well put! He certainly does keep us on our toes and even though at times it’s uncomfortable, I’m so thankful for it. Thank you for taking the time to comment. ❤️

    1. Hi Liz. Going against the grain is a normal way of life for Christians. I like that included this: “Choose love over judgment – it covers a multitude of sins. Let words be kind, seasoned with grace, truth and love.” Judgment comes too natural. Also, sometimes we feel like defaming people or getting in people’s faces because it feeds our egos or passions. Sometimes these things feel like our duties, but truth must be accompanied by love. Great post and so thoughtful.

      1. Hi Stephen! Such great points – I identify with what you say…self righteousness is so self righteous. I think it must be part of the human condition to make myself feel better by pointing out the weaknesses of others. But all fall short of the glory of God…my prayer is to see people through the lense of God. To see others like me in need of God’s grace. Thanks for reading and adding valuable comments to the conversation!

    1. Hey, Liz. This is beautifully poetic. I really like the use of going against the grain and getting splinters. I’ve heard that used in a different context but not this one.
      This has been a struggle in my life, pleasing people before God. I can’t fear men and God. It’s unnerving how much more readily I kowtow to people. Good post, and thanks for the encouragement.

      1. Hi Chip! You and me brother…I’ll blame my parents (ha) who taught me to be polite and not make waves. God’s Word says the gospel is offensive and His Word is a sharp sword. I think the difficulty for me is too often when I’ve offended others, it’s been me on my own…”I” think I should say this or that. I’m learning part of being bold is submitting my thoughts, words and actions to Him. He wants us to be loving and gentle but at times hard truth is needed. When I’m focused on Him and trusting Him to direct me, it’s easier to take the hits. Love your honesty and heart for Him.

    1. Liz, I love the layout of your blog post. It’s easy on the eyes, I could just keep reading! I also loved the content. You challenge me and that’s a good thing. God does ask us to do things that seem uncommon for the world. but then we serve an uncommon God. He is holy and all knowing. I have learned that when God asks me to do the uncommon thing, it pushes me to trust Him more. My faith grows. Not easily, mind you, but the stretching does grow me in ways I would have never imagined. Thank you for sharing this wisdom.

      1. Hi Marcie! Thanks so much for your feedback and positive comments…you really encouraged me. I love how you say it’s not easy but the stretching grows you. I have found the same thing and sadly, usually my worry about what others might say/think is usually one of my biggest mental hurdles before I close my eyes and jump. 😁 Thank you again for reading and commenting – it’s great to have you here. ❤️

    1. Liz, thanks for this post! You are so right: THE WAYS OF GOD AREN’T THE WAYS OF MAN. As a former people-pleaser, I’m working hard to remember I only need to please God. Your words help in my journey!

      1. Hi Jessica! Meee too! Something I must repent of over and over is listening to people over God. Something happens and I pray, then immediately run to those closest to me to see what they think, what “I”should do. God is teaching me to look to Him, be still and wait with expectation. I’m not very good at it yet. Thanks for a great honest comment and contribution! I appreciate you…blessings friend. ❤️

    1. How often donI follow Christ and obey IMMEDIATELY? I fail at that often because I feel I know what’s best for me better than He does. You’re right in saying we can’t serve 2 masters; me and God.

      Challenging post! Lots to reflect on here.

      1. Hi Paul! You and me brother…I’m right there with you. A friend and fellow believer keeps correcting me “I think” “ok Liz, but what does God think?” It’s challenging and hard to replace “I” and “me” with God and He. Thanks for your honesty – we’re all growing together and hopefully it brings us closer to Him. ❤️

    1. Being misunderstood eats away at my peace. I totally get it, Liz. I too am a recovering people pleaser. Have you heard the song “I Shall Not Want” by Audrey Asaad? One line speaks of being misunderstood. The first (and second, third, and fourth) time I heard it, tears flowed. Such a great post.

      1. Hi Cathy! I haven’t heard the song but I will totally check it out – thanks! Being misunderstood can be so painful – it comforts me to know Jesus was misunderstood too so He understands how I feel. I think His willingness to be human and experience the worst parts of humanity to not just save us but relate to us is the amazing in grace. Thanks again for the song recommendation! Hugs sister ❤️

    1. I don’t like being misunderstood either, Liz. Your words, His truth need to stay fixated in front of my face at all times. Thank you for writing this out, so we may walk it out too.

      1. Hey Julie! The Lord is really working on my people pleasing/approval and I’m amazed how often I put the approval of others before God. Staying quiet to not offend or participating in neighborhood gossip to be liked. He’s asking me to put Him before my need for acceptance and approval – it’s way harder that I’d like to admit. So thankful for His grace and mercy. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone – I so appreciate you. ❤️

      1. Hi Nancy! I appreciate the blessing of your comment – it is challenging to put Christ first – the world is so distracting and I am so human. Blessings to you as you press in closer to Him. ❤️

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