God is looking for ordinary people like you and me to accomplish great things in our lives beyond our wildest dreams. He’s calling each one of us to have holy ambition — to attempt what seems impossible, maybe even ridiculous, and “outside the box” for God’s glory.
For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. (2 Chronicles 16:9)
The promise of this passage is that God is looking for people He can strongly support. He wants to do far more in our lives than we could do on our own. And He’s not looking for people who are extra special or extraordinary, He’s looking for ordinary people whose hearts are fully His and living “all out” for Christ.
Whether or not you’ve begun to take some radical steps toward answering God’s call on your life, there’s something important that you need to know:
Living a life of holy ambition and radical commitment to God does not mean living a life of smooth spiritual sailing.
Yet, many of us have this false expectation. Whenever we step out and make a major commitment and say by faith, “I am really going to do it God’s way,” unconsciously we start thinking, “Well, since I’m going to do this God’s way, life will probably get better. God’s going to bless me.”
We want God’s promises, but only on our terms and according to our definition. This kind of thinking will only get us into trouble. God will, in fact, honor and bless our obedience and faith, but Scripture and personal experience has shown that life usually gets harder before it gets better.
We can see from the stories of people in the Old and New Testaments that this is true. People like Moses, Elijah, and the Apostle Paul all experienced extreme opposition when they radically followed God. They experienced God’s blessing and strength, but they also experienced persecution, temptation, criticism and discouragement.
Whenever we take a major step of faith to pursue our holy ambition, it’s almost always followed by periods of intense opposition.
Why? Before we give our lives to Christ, our lives represent enemy territory. So even when Christ takes possession of our lives, there are areas of resistance that still remain. When we begin dealing with issues like lust, rage, sharing our faith and making major decisions for God, we can expect to face difficulties. Our enemy, Satan, doesn’t go down without a fight!
This is when we might be tempted to start thinking, “What did I do wrong? Maybe I’m out of God’s will.” But we didn’t do anything wrong.
Remember that opposition – both external and internal — is inevitable when we have holy ambition. That’s why it is so important that we have a courageous soul.
One of the main ways we experience opposition is through discouragement. Here are some very predictable ways that discouragement happens to us, as well as some ways to overcome it:
Loss of strength – A loss of energy can take its toll on our physical and emotional state. But being fatigued doesn’t mean you’re out of God’s will. It just means that you need to stop, rest and get physically and spiritually renewed.
Loss of vision and perspective – If we don’t keep a positive perspective, it’s easy to become discouraged. Instead, we need to focus on what we’ve accomplished. We may also need to take a break to get refreshed, give ourselves a chance to see what God’s doing and to remember what He’s done in the past.
Loss of confidence – When we loose confidence in ourselves and even in God, our faith begins to crumble. To battle this we need to remember God’s character and then worship Him.
Loss of security – The enemy wants us to panic and be immobilized in fear, especially when our very lives might be threatened. But we can trust that God will give us what we need. It’s in those times of weaknesses that He will demonstrate His greatest power.
This week, we’re beginning the series Holy Ambition: Turning God-Shaped Dreams into Reality. In it, we’ll follow the story of Nehemiah and learn the steps it takes to prepare for and engage in the Lord’s service. It’s my prayer that during our time together we’ll become people who are willing to live on the edge and who are prepared to overcome great opposition to see God’s agenda fulfilled in this fallen world.
Keep Pressin’ Ahead,
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the senior pastor of Venture Christian Church in Los Gatos, California, and teaching pastor and president of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including "The Real God," "Culture Shock" and "The Real Heaven." Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and eleven grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip