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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
– 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 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!
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.
Check out my new book “The Wedding Night: Embracing Sexual Intimacy as New Bride“