When God Asks You to Exchange Your Good for His Best.

For the past several weeks I have been reading through the book of Acts.  It's actually my first time studying through the whole book at one time and I am really loving the powerful accounts of the Apostles.  The history of the Church is truly rich.  It is certainly, at times, harrowing but it points to a God of promise.  We get to see His gospel spread among nations by the Holy Spirit and through men and women in miraculous ways.

It ultimately has my heart shouting:  send me!

In chapter 19 I cam across an interesting story and I hope that I can do it justice by sharing it with you because it really stuck with me.  To give some context we need to go back to John 14:12.  It's here that Jesus says this:  "Truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do.  And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father." 

These works would be made possible by the power of the Holy Spirit whom the Father sent as a helper after the ascension of Jesus.  We see accounts of Jesus' followers performing mighty acts of healing all throughout the New Testament but for now, let's focus on Paul.

"God was performing extraordinary miracles by Paul's hands, so that even facecloths or aprons that had touched his skin were brought to the sick, and the diseases left them, and the evil spirits came out of them." -Acts 19:11-12

In the very next passage we read the account of some traveling exorcists who tried to mimic Paul in casting out evil spirits.  The difference between Paul and these traveling men was that Paul healed by the Holy Spirit.  These men were lacking in faith and also in integrity.  They were looking to feed their own personal gain.  Even an evil spirit recognized their dishonesty as it responded:

"I know Jesus and recognize Paul -- But who are you?" -Acts 19:15 

Evil flees at the sign of Jesus but because the evil spirit saw that the men's lives were void of the markings of a Savior it overcame them until they were rendered naked and wounded.

Now, as if that weren't enough drama, it's what happens next that really got me thinking.

"When this became known to everyone who lived in Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks, they became afraid, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high esteem.  And many who had become believers came confessing and disclosing their practices, while many of those who had practiced magic collected their books and burned them in front of everyone.  So they calculated their value and found it to be fifty thousand pieces of silver.  In this way the word of the Lord flourished and prevailed." -Acts 19:17-20 

I want to point out the practicers of magic.  These people had heard this story of the men mentioned earlier and in turn they had a radical encounter with the Holy Spirit.  So radical that they decided to burn all of their spell books in front of everyone.  That's amazing!  To put it into a perspective fit for our modern era, fifty thousand pieces of silver is equivalent to several million dollars.  Can you imagine cooking up a big ol bonfire just to chuck a couple million dollars into its flames?  That's a hard scenario to conjure up.

But the reality is that when we have an encounter with Christ He is going to ask us to give up the things that don't align with His truth.  That's a battle in itself but what happens when God also asks us to give up something good?
Yes, we are called to set flame to the things that don't align with God's truth but then there also may come a time when you need to let go of something good and honorable in the Lord's eyes so that He can lead you into something better.  So that He can lead you into something that He has specifically set you apart to do.

I had a conversation with my brother once and I can remember him saying to me:  "What ever it is that God has planned for your life, it is going to be the very best for you."  

This was years ago and in hindsight it means more to me now then it did then because it has taken me  a long time to lean into that truth.  But now, at almost 28 years old I can feel God strengthening my faith and I have learned that it is ok to let go of things that I worked really, really hard for in order to prepare for what I believe He is truly calling me into.

That thing for me is my degree in Fashion.

I fell in love with fashion around the age of ten when I watched my very first episode of Lizzie McGuire.  Call my crazy, but that girl had style and I absolutely adored her (to this day I still watch the Lizzie McGuire Movie on a regular basis with zero shame...zero).  Lizzie just wasn't afraid to express herself through the way she dressed so I tried to mimic that in my own life.  In sixth grade when we had to do career projects mine always centered on fashion design and then my senior year of high school I designed my own prom dress (which looking back...yikes! but at least I made the effort!)

All this to say, I really wanted a career in fashion but when it came to applying for college (after five years in the Army) I decided that I would focus my degree on the business side, more behind the scenes.  I ended up being accepted to the Art Institute and thus began my three and a half year journey towards my degree in Fashion Marketing.  

Right away I fell in love with curating moods boards.  I know that in this day in age curating can kind of get a bad wrap but I absolutely love it.  I love being creative, its just hardwired into me, and pulling together different elements to make something beautiful makes me so happy.

Because of this I started to really think about seriously looking for work as a visual merchandiser/stylist. If you have ever stood in front of a dreamy window display at Anthropologie that will give you an idea of what I wanted to do.

After three and a half years of hard, hard work I was getting ready to graduate when I went on a trip to Israel.  I won't get into that story because I have already written a separate post on it here.  But as a quick recap, I came home knowing that fashion wasn't going to be what I pursued anymore.

But I was so good at it.  I went through school as a stay-at-home mom with a toddler and at one point a new born.  I wrote on average four papers a week on top of creating mood boards and other visual presentations and still managed to graduate with honors.  And to top things off my portfolio won best in show among my graduating class.  I am not sharing this to be vain, only to tell you that I put a lot of hard work into something that I truly loved.

I have no doubt that I could have gone on to have a career in fashion and God would have called it good but I believe that He has best in store outside of it.

Is there something in your life that you feel it is time to let go of even though you have put in the hard work?  Maybe its a relationship, or a career, or something else entirely.  Please hear me say this:  I'm not suggesting you do something like this on a whim but if you know that you have been hearing from the Lord and yet resisting that's where I urge you to give it thought.

May we be a people who strive for the great faith of those described in Acts 19.  When we have a radical encounter with God, may we be willing to shed all that goes against His truth and His will for our lives, even after much time and effort has been invested.

Sometimes God will ask you to exchange your good for His best and dear reader, there is no safer place to be than the place where He is leading you.

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