Unclothed & Unashamed: Pursuing God’s Best for Your Life & Marriage

First, a big welcome to all my new email subscribers! Last week I wrote a post that went viral on Facebook (well, viral to my not-so-big-blog) In about  24 hours, 10,000 folks had clicked over from Facebook alone to read the post.  Thanks for joining me here. I hope you get encouraged and equipped as you pursue a strong intentional happily-ever-after!

 

I’ve been reading Beth Moore’s book “The Beloved Disciple”.

Last week I was reading through a chapter on walking closer to God and I began to think about how, in working to get our attention, God will often strip us of distractions & clutter; and everything that has captured our attention and distracted us from the important thing.

Unclothed and unashamed - Pursuing God's best for your life and marriage

God stripping me of my clutter

When God began to tug at my clutter and “stuff” some six or so years ago, I can’t say I was paying much attention.

I was too busy adjusting to being a wife and wrapping my mind around marriage.

I was mourning my dad – who I’d lost two years before but had never completed the grieving process.

I was jobless and broke, having left my job of 7 years around the time of the wedding.

I was navigating “empty-heart nightmares”, having left a church leadership position in my local church, where I’d led and mentored for  close to a decade. 

I was so busy feeling the pain and angst and loss that comes with refining to really listen or look at God’s bigger picture.

A deeper stripping

And so – even though I did not know it then – I was on the lookout for the quickest exit out of my uncomfortable sore place.

And I found it.

Believing that God was done with my “desert” season, I grabbed the earliest opportunity to skip off the potter’s table and start “reconstructing” my life.

Now many of us call such exits “breakthroughs” and “open doors”.  And those are fine when they happen according to God’s schedule.

But they are not so fine when they happen according to your schedule.

In my case, I took the earliest opportunity to dive back to busyness and commitments.

I started another women mentor group.

I was soon working with courting and engaged couples.

I started to organize couples retreats and seminars.

I started a business.

Life was looking up again! I was busy. Excited.

But unknown to me, busily operating from the surface while God wanted me to draw me to depths I hadn’t fathomed yet.

So He stripped me again.

And it came in the form of moving 8,000 miles away from home and all  I’ve ever known.

You know how we don’t hear God the first time He speaks?

We are so busy battling “withdrawal symptoms” we can’t see His bigger picture.

We don’t understand our immaturity & shallowness and the heights He wants us to soar.

So we walk out of the growth process, half-formed.

And other times we are so wrapped up and defined by our clutter and distractions that God has to take it away one at a time, otherwise we couldn’t handle it.

That was me. I had no capacity to learn everything I needed to learn the first time round (none of us do, I think).

But the second (or third or twentieth) time round, we perk up and begin to pay attention.

I was in a strange foreign land; no friends, no church, no family (except for 2 sisters), no money, no job, no ministry or career or business to speak of, no support systems.

I couldn’t just hop back and fix things.

I was in over my head.

Finally quiet enough

I was out of options, out of rope and all I could do was listen and wait.

My life was finally quiet enough to start hearing – really hearing – God.

I haven’t arrived and I doubt any one  does.

But as I have continued to allow God to strip me of my busyness, distractions and messes, to heal me and  reveal to me His purposes and methods, I have discovered the most amazing thing.

His faithfulness.

You see God does not declutter our lives so that He can leave us with a big old empty space of nothingness.

He strips us so that He can fill us with more of Himself. (Click to tweet that)

The clarity and anointing and strength and blessing and answers we need, they are not found in busyness and activity and methods.

But from a deeper, more intimate relationship with God; the one that says “yes” to the scary, the unreasonable, the divine.

It comes from saying “yes” to His call for greater levels of trust, surrender and obedience.

4 things about being stripped of clutter.

1. You can’t compare yourself.

Sometimes we hold on to our clutter and distractions because it’s the most rational, sensible, popular thing to do.(Click to tweet)

We don’t want to be gossiped about, we don’t want to look crazy.

I mean who wants to be the only guy in town walking with a limp? (See the story of Jacob)

So while God is calling you to leave your job to raise the next generation at home, you are busy asking your friends their opinion.

You forgot that God hasn’t called your friends to leave their jobs. He has called you and your husband. Your friends are running their own race.

And you can’t recruit them to run yours.

So we must learn to run with God’s word. Even when we are the only ones running.

 2. Fear is an enemy to overcome.

We fear God’s stripping because we don’t know what’s on the other side. (Click to tweet)

We don’t know if we have enough faith, enough money in the bank (spoiler alert; you will never will enough money in the bank to comfortably risk in faith..that’s why it’s faith!).

We fear because we don’t want to be unclothed! Yet God won’t allow us to be unclothed and ashamed – He knows what’s on the other side and will cover us!

And He wants us to trust and risk because without complete abandonment, we can’t attain His high purposes. (Click to tweet)

The deep cry and desire of our heart cannot be fulfilled in the shallow end, but in the deep end.

 3. God is faithful to keep His promise

Sure sometimes it looks like He forgot about your rent. Or marriage.

For a season you might feel the pain of laying aside your will and reasoning and following His leading.

Yet it’s in these testing – the struggle, the lack and seeming defeat  – where we begin to understand the depths of His love and compassion and devotion and faithfulness.

And it’s here where we begin to truly understand His big picture.

Beth Moore says

“Get to know God intimately and you’ll have a head-on collision with your calling! God wants to give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation (through deep intimacy) so that we’ll know what to do with what He reveals” Emphasis mine”

 4. He won’t give up on us.

I can’t count the number of times I have wanted to give up (or gave up).

I’ve had days when I felt like I was beyond redemption, like I have failed God. Like I will never “get” this thing, this revelation, He’s trying to get to me.

One of my most precious revelations has been that God will not give up on me.

I can’t make him mad, frustrated, exasperated, shocked enough to give up on the process of refinement and molding.

Sure my drama and fussing will delay the process and promise. But God doesn’t give up. 

It’s not about my strength or ability to hold on to Him. But His strength and ability to hold on to me. (Click to tweet)

How are you doing in your stripping season?

I don’t know the depths of your squeezing and stripping.

But as one who’s walked (and still walking) the road of refinement, I have a word of encouragement for you today.

Get.on.with.God’s.program!

Stop fighting and resisting His directions. Stop the excuses, the tweaking of His Word to you.

God gave you a promise, but girlfriend, the promise will only be fulfilled when you obey!

Key takeaways

- Allow God to strip you.

Of the distractions and busyness and all that’s keeping you busy and occupied but taking away from His promise and specific directions in your life.

- Let.it.go.

Let go of the clutter. And don’t find some other clutter to replace what just went out of the door!

Allow God to strip you all the way down to your bones, until nothing remains.

- Pursue peace.

God doesn’t want you frazzled and out of your mind. Sure sometimes it takes many “out of your mind” days to find your real mind :)

But don’t settle in crazy-land, thinking that’s all there is.

Pray. Fast. Pursue His Presence. And when you get His peace, fight to keep it.

- Do His thing, His way!

Final thoughts

I am still being stripped, I don’t think the process ever ends. I just want you to know you are not alone. God knows it, He ordained it, you just need to walk through it.

If you need prayer or encouragement in your season of stripping and trusting God for the next level, let me know via my contact form and I’ll pray with you.

 

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Linking with Titus 2sdays, Messy Marriage, Wifey Wednesday, Wise woman, we are That Family
  • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

    Congratulations on the viral post, Ngina:) Proud of you.

    It’s comporting to know God is with us through every season of life. And if we allow Him to we will become better through those difficult or challenging seasons. Great post!

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

    Congrats on the viral post, Ngina. I didn’t know that – that’s exciting.
    I am so thankful for the idea that you stated here: that God doesn’t give up on us. I would’ve given up on me a long time ago.

  • Cara B.

    Awesome. Just awesome

  • http://sukofamily.org/ Caleb

    I think the biggest problem for me is that I’m so afraid to allow God to strip the clutter from me. It’s really foolish to think about but I can become so attached to my clutter that I think that if I lose it then I won’t be “happy” but in the end God shows me every time that life with out the clutter isn’t just possible but it’s God’s best for me.

  • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

    So much wonderful and encouraging words in this post! So much wisdom.

    I’m in the process of being stripped. Sometimes it feels shattering. Last week I found myself feeling overwhelmed and telling God I didn’t think I had enough faith to obey.
    He gently reminded me that it’s not about my strength or faith, it’s about Him and His faithfulness to me.
    He won’t let me go, even when I want Him to because the pain is too much.
    Sometimes it isn’t about my faith (or lack thereof), it’s about making mistakes so I can learn how much He loves me and realize how much I need Him.
    Being stripped, shows me just how far I need to go to grow in Him. I often think way to highly of myself. So I need the painful reminders that I dont need more of me, I need more of God.

    Great post.

  • Little Wife

    I clicked over here from To Love Honor and Vacuum. Amazing how God works, isn’t it?

    I needed this post desperately today. Desperately. Especially #1- God’s called ME to be where I am right now, to grow me and change me even though I don’t wanna grow and change and it hurts. And of course it’s not fair- it’s what *I* need right now, not anyone else.

    Printing this off so I can read it over and over.

    Thank you!

  • http://www.barbraveling.com/ Barb Raveling

    I could relate to all of this post, Ngina, but especially #2 as fear has been one of the biggest things I’ve struggled with in writing. Refinement usually isn’t very fun but always worth it in the end. I’m glad your last post went viral. Fun! :)

  • http://www.messymarriage.com/ Beth Steffaniak

    You know what? I feel like one of those rickety old antiques that has layer upon layer of paint and stain on me and God has to spend literally my lifetime stripping me to get to the heart of what He desires, Ngina. I love this analogy and I so resonate with your words and challenge today, my friend. Thanks for your continual wisdom. And congrats on that viral post, my friend! Whoop! Whoop! :)

  • http://theregoi.com/ floyd

    Nothing like real life to bring us wisdom. I’m sorry to hear you had tough seasons, but it’s paying dividends now. Thanks, sister. Keep up the good work.

    • http://intentionaltoday.com/ Ngina Otiende

      Floyd, just today I sat with someone and listened to their journey. And i got this light bulb (that i seem to get all the time) that everyone has a journey and a story. Saying that to say that Jesus makes all things work out for good for those that love Him. So it’s just like you encourage us in your blog, it’s about perspective and keeping our eyes on our heavenly Father :) Thanks for the thoughts.

  • Njeri Kuria

    Thanks Ngina for this post, a while back i went through a time of serious stripping and decluttering which left me with only one option, to lean on God and hold on to only him, i looked all around and there was no one around but God which brought me so much closer to him and led me to fully put my trust in him and depend on him. At the time i didn’t understand why i was going through what i was going through and i must have asked God a thousand questions until much later…….after reading your post, i just realised that God is still not done with me yet! But this time i get it!

    • http://intentionaltoday.com/ Ngina Otiende

      Njeri, thank you for your comment. I like what you’ve said about God not being done with you yet. He never is, is He? :) i am holding on to that prayer, that this time too I “get it” and not have to go through the same process again..it’s nice to graduate from kindergarten, you know! Thanks so much for sharing, you’ve encouraged my heart ;)

  • bukola

    thanks so much for this post, I’m currently in the middle of decluttering and striping process by God, At times, I’M like who are you to put me through this…., just like a baby being bundled up and rescued from naked flames, It’s not sweet but its being very rewarding to me.usually pride is the first thing to go, and i think all others come relatively easy.

    • http://intentionaltoday.com/ Ngina Otiende

      I love this Bukola “usually pride is the first thing to go, and I think all others come relatively easy.” You’ve been reading my mail! :) Totally agree. Amen to moving forward with God, even when we don’t enjoy the process.