Being set-apart means we may feel as though we don’t fit in with everyone else. It may make us feel rejected by our peers and may get us ridiculed and hated for no reason, because we don’t follow the standards set by the people in our surroundings, but we rather follow the standards set out in God’s Word.
We glorify the calling, but we don’t talk about the process. Somewhere between making the decision to follow God’s call on our lives and living it out, we give up, because we don’t know what the process is supposed to look like. We assume that everything we go through is either from the devil, or that God is punishing us. Please note that what I’ve written is based solely on my own experiences and is in no way meant to imply that everyone else’s experiences have to be similar. I only share these thoughts in the hopes that it will encourage someone who is going through their own process, just as I am.
- It’s uncomfortable
You will have to do things you never thought you would do, and you will go through things you thought only happened to ‘other people’. If you are not willing to drop whatever you are doing at any given time in your life and obey an instruction God is giving you, you may want to reconsider your decision to follow Jesus. You will have to die to your flesh daily and go through things most people don’t want to go through, and do things that will get you ridiculed and judged. None of us are so perfect that we never do anything wrong, but the process teaches us the importance of obedience, and obedience is uncomfortable (well, at least for me).
- You will lose people
While God is moving you out of one comfort zone after the next, you may notice that most of the people you once thought you could trust, are suddenly turning their backs on you. Why? Well, because someone who has never gone through what you are going through, is entirely unable to understand what is happening to you, and therefore can no longer relate to you. Most of them will assume that your life is ‘falling apart’ because you are in ‘rebellion’ towards God and are consequently being punished for things you have been doing in the dark. Some will assume that you are a pretentious hypocrite and will treat you as such. Sound familiar? This is exactly what Job went through. I truly believe this is the Lord’s way of showing us who we can take with us as we grow, and who we cannot grow with. You know who else went through the same thing? Jesus. Check the Bible. Jesus had twelve disciples, but at times would only move with three. We will lose people along the way who we thought we needed, and we need to be okay with that. We need to accept that it’s God’s goodness and grace operating in our lives. More importantly, it’s God’s way of showing us that He is the only constant in our lives.
- It’s painful
It’s painful seeing people for who they really are, especially if they are your friends and family (yes, them, too – matter of fact, especially them). Have you ever gone through a situation where you literally felt like you were being stabbed in the heart? I have, and I can tell you that in the middle of such a situation, one can become so consumed with the pain that we neglect to allow it to bring out the results God desires it to have. We just think about getting out immediately, and at all costs. If we jump out prematurely, though, we forfeit the blessings that could be ours – strength, discipline, increased faith and deeper intimacy with God. This is why Paul advises us to let the process do its work in us, because we will come out refined (James 1 v 2 – 4 & 12).
The Lord will take us through seasons of isolation so that we can begin to truly see His heart for us without any distractions.
- Favour doesn’t always work in the way we assume
We only ever hear about the fun part of having God’s favour on our lives, but it can have some pretty ugly affects as well. Just ask Joseph. Joseph’s favour got him rejected and hated by his own brothers; beaten and left for dead by the very same brothers; sold as a slave; falsely accused and thrown into prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Joseph’s favour attracted jealousy and hatred, so also did Jesus’s favour. The ‘favoured’ and ‘chosen’ ones really just do what most people don’t want to do; because the purpose of the favour of God is to enable us to fulfill our earthly assignment, not to make our earthly lives more convenient. Sorry to disappoint the person who wants God’s favour in order to make their lives more comfortable and easy. Even Jesus asked the Father to ‘let this cup pass’ from Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before His crucifixion. Jesus’s favour got Him noticed by the Pharisees, who felt threatened by Him because He was challenging their religious views of Father God. They were the people who ultimately managed to get Him crucified. Jesus’s favour cost Him people, too. Not everyone could go with Him to the end of His destiny on earth, and God let people disqualify themselves from Jesus’s side by allowing them to turn their backs on Him. That’s favour. Favour comes at a cost, but the reward will be worth every tear and every drop of sweat. Being set-apart means we may feel as though we don’t fit in with everyone else. It may make us feel rejected by our peers and may get us ridiculed and hated for no reason, because we don’t follow the standards set by the people in our surroundings, but we rather follow the standards set out in God’s Word. That will cause people to hate you, but it will put you at the forefront in the Kingdom of God.
- There’s always a cost
Salvation is free, but it does not come without cost. It will cost you everything: your heart, your soul, your will, your flesh, your entire life as you know it. When you are no longer in control of your life, you don’t get to tell God what you ‘feel’ your life should look like. Pursuing Jesus and following His call will cost you everything you think is yours as He removes what is not from Him and lines you up with His perfect will.
- You will start to truly see yourself
Perhaps the most painful part of the process, to me, is beginning to see myself as I truly am. The process God takes us through, puts us in situations where we are forced to look at ourselves through eyes of reality. We begin to realise how we truly see God and who we think He really is. We cannot say we fully trust God if we’ve never been in a situation where we had nothing else but Him and His Word to stand on. Jesus went from being announced by the Father in front of an entire crowd, to being tempted in the wilderness – alone. This should tell us that we cannot always be surrounded by lots of people during our process. The Lord will take us through seasons of isolation so that we can begin to truly see His heart for us without any distractions. Note that while in the wilderness, the enemy constantly tempts Jesus into questioning His own identity…when the Father had just publically announced Him as His Son in whom He is well pleased. The wilderness can therefore be a place where we are tested to see if we believe what God says about us, and if we believe that He is who He says He is.
If Jesus had chosen to abort His earthly mission that night in the Garden of Gethsemane, He would have forfeited all the rewards that came with it. He is now seated at the right hand of the Father, interceeding for us, holding the keys to hell and death. We would not be in a position of victory over the enemy, we would not be heirs of salvation. In the same way, we should persevere in our own earthly assignment.