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Run Your Race Even When the Critics Are Talking!

     Surely, we all know who they are. They’re also known as the promise blockers, dream killers, hope hinderers, destiny discouragers and any other adjective that defines their goal of standing between you and the promise.  I was at morning service last week and I learned an important lesson.  You see there is a gentleman who is on fire for Christ.  My church home is large but his shout is so loud and piercing that he makes our large campus appear to be a mere living room.  I have to be honest about this story in order for it bless you like the way it did me so now I’m about to speak candidly.  I was guilty of thinking his shout was loud. That was it, pure and simple; I just thought it was loud.  Now, I was so exhausted this day that I was actually dozing off in my seat when suddenly he was ushered to a seat in front of me.  I was terrible too; I wasn’t just dozing, my neck would actually lean so far forward that I almost fell on the floor each time I dozed before suddenly popping awake.  Anyway, he came in and sat in front of me and I’m thinking, “Lord, you know you got jokes because you are telling me to wake up in here!”  Needless to say, wake up is exactly what God had me do.

    Halfway into the service, I noticed several women scoffing and rolling their eyes at the man.  Now I’m not talking about someone rolling their eyes nonchalantly, they were so bold as to stop, wait a few moments until he looked, then point, talk and roll their eyes at him.  Instantly, I became enraged at their behavior but God reminded me that just like them I was guilty too.  No, I didn’t behave the way they did but I thought it. It was in my heart, and I was guilty. I know that threw a lot of you for a loop so look here. Matthew 15:13-21 in The Message (MSG) Translation says:

 13-14Jesus shrugged it off. "Every tree that wasn't planted by my Father in heaven will be pulled up by its roots. Forget them. They are blind men leading blind men. When a blind man leads a blind man, they both end up in the ditch."
 15Peter said, "I don't get it. Put it in plain language."
 16-20Jesus replied, "You, too? Are you being willfully stupid? Don't you know that anything that is swallowed works its way through the intestines and is finally defecated? But what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart. It's from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and cussing. That's what pollutes. Eating or not eating certain foods, washing or not washing your hands—that's neither here nor there." 

    So you see while I had yet to say anything about his behavior or Praise, looking at him sideways was already in my heart.  Now typically, these women who were boldly and publicly criticizing him could’ve intimated him.  He could’ve just sat down and took that as a cue to be silent however; he did the opposite and got louder.  At one point he shouted, “you can say what you want about me because I love Jesus! I love you Jesus.” Then his hand began to clap so rapidly stirring up a fire in my spirit because instantly I jumped on my feet, screaming and praising with him.  Moments, later the choir started singing a song that was familiar to me.  In fact, I listened to this song the entire time my mom was in Hospice, believing God for a miracle.  Some days, it was in the words of that song that I found God and got peace.  Maybe music doesn’t do you like that but music can sometimes minister to my soul in a way I can’t explain.  It’s so serious that tears just flooded my eyes typing this because I remember.  As the song got louder and louder, the Holy Spirit tugged harder and harder at my spirit.  

    My Pastor called for everyone to hold hands and he led a corporate prayer with the song still playing.  I tried reaching for my mask because I didn’t want to just lose it and break down in front of everyone but I remembered my commitment to surrender the mask.  As we entered prayer, loud wails and cries began flooding from out of me.  The more I tried to think of the people holding my hands or even those surrounding me, the travail increased.  The pain and grief of missing my mom flooded me but this time joy, peace and gratefulness flooded me too. For the first time I didn’t care what people around me thought, I didn’t care about their opinions or who saw me crying. It was time to zero in on me and God.  It was time to have my breakdown moment and allow my gentle Giant, my King Jesus rescue me. 

    No one knew my story like God knew my story; no one knew the depths of darkness he’s rescued me from but him and me.  It was in that moment that God began enlightening me.  If I had screamed, cried, praised and shouted that long from just remembering about my mom, surely I could understand the man’s shout.  Because if I stayed just right there in that depth of praise everyday, all day, every service, I’d probably be louder than him.  I don’t know that man’s story; I don’t know where God has delivered him from.  Thank God he’s not out on the streets in bondage and if his worst crime is loudly praising Jesus in the church then I’m the one who needed to be checked here.  Who was I or anyone else to talk about that man’s praise? Who are we to criticize, ostracize or ridicule someone else for being himself or herself? That’s what surrendering the mask is all about! It’s about removing those rags and trading in those ashes for God’s beauty! Who are we to talk about how people should dress in the church, (uh-oh I’m stepping on some toes here) how loud your praise should be or anything else.  If the church is a hospital move out of my way and let me get healed.  My encounter with God may not be the same as yours was and that’s okay, God knew about our personal encounter before the foundation of the world.  We just need to stop it! We want to control people more than we want to give them God. We want to tell them how to act, what to wear, how loud to praise, etc. and how is that liberty? The Bible says: “where the spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty.” (2 Corinthians 3:17KJV) There is no liberty in that.  The Amplified version of the Bible describes that liberty to be: “emancipation from bondage, freedom.”    How are we emancipating each other from bondage if we are constantly putting God and each other in a box? I’m more interested in God’s traditions than man’s traditions.  We have to expose the masks in the world just as well as in the church; God wants us to be free. He said make a joyful noise not a controlled one. Jesus!

    Anyhow, at the end of that service God convicted me.  He convicted my heart to the point that by the service’s end, I shook his hand, applauded him and told him to never change.  I walked away admiring his boldness and transparency for God. He didn’t back down in the face of adversity, even when almost the entire congregation was looking at him for a reaction.  I was confronted by God with a life-changing lesson and question that day, “will you still serve me when everybody else around you is making fun of you and intimidating you not to?” Now I’m turning to ask you that same question.  “Will you press and work out your salvation despite who talks about or criticizes you openly for it?” “Will you keep your joy when your flesh is telling you to flip?”Because see, the gentleman didn’t just break by cussing those women out or stooping down their level to respond to them.  Instead he humbled himself and kept his eyes on Jesus! “Will you keep your eyes on Him?” “Will you pursue your dreams and walk boldly in your purpose even when naysayers are rolling their eyes?” “Will you surrender the mask, even if it’s at a public function and all eyes are you?” Most of all will you do just like that young man, “do it front of your critics while they're standing on the sidelines hating?”  Yes, Lord I will! Now, who’s with me?

This post first appeared on Beauty With BrandyWine Journeying Beauty InSideOut, please read the originial post: here

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Run Your Race Even When the Critics Are Talking!


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