“All of these things hinder our experiencing a conscious manifest presence of God in our everyday life. I’m not taking about sinful things but about the things that hinder us from pressing into His presence.” -A.W. Tozer, Experiencing the Presence of God
This is the quote that stirred my heart to ask the question.
The question that reaped some slightly painful answers.
“What are the things in my life (‘good’ things) preventing or hindering me from pressing into His presence?”
The crazy thing is that as soon as I read that, I already knew.
“What is needed today is spiritual discernment along with the courage to identify these things and root them out once and for all.”
Oh for strength to root out the hindrances and grace to cling to the Strong Man.
Before I go on I need to clarify that this blog post is less about any readers who may come across this and more about my own heart and accountability in publishing these things.
While taking the last week to ponder the hindrances in my life, God continued to challenge me almost daily.
What are you lingering on (Genesis 19:4-17)?
What are you hesitating to remove from your life?
Where are you investing your time?
What are your priorities saying?
What are some of the things you’re lingering on that aren’t in some way helping give you more of Jesus or fulfilling the Great Commission?
These are the questions that surfaced.
Then the quotes came. Without knowing the battle to identify hindrances and lingerings, my brother-in-law texted me the following quote a couple days into my reflection on this topic:
“Are our packed calendars and handheld computers really fulfilling our own hunger for life in Christ, let alone the hunger of our people and the world?” -John Piper
“The importance of prayer rises in proportion to the importance of the things we should give up in order to pray.” -John Piper
John Piper and A.W. Tozer aren’t the only ones who talk about this.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2, ESV)
Some translations, instead of “lay aside every weight and sin,” say “cast away every weight and sin.” Another says “throw off everything that hinders.”
I like the imagery there.
Throw off sin.
Kill sin before it kills you.
I want more of God.
That’s my heart’s cry.
So I should be willing to get more of Him at all costs.
The thing is that when I say that, I’m generally just saying I’m willing to give up that which requires nothing to give up.
Lord, unclinch my fists from the world so I may cling tighter to Jesus.
Hindrances I need to throw off:
- Social media (this was the very first thing that came to mind when I read Tozer’s quote. It eats at my time, mind and heart, and while I justify its usage, there is absolutely no way that all the time I spend on there is necessary for the advancement of the kingdom).
- Self (really everything falls under this).
- Sleeping in (I must have time with God in the mornings before work. Most days this happens but laziness sometimes strikes its evil hand and I sleep in. Must combat this).
- TV Shows (addictive and time consuming. Case in point: I watched the complete first season of Once Upon a Time in a week and a half… ginormous time suckers).
- Food (of course this can’t be thrown off completely, but do I seek it more than God?).
Of course these are not hindrances for every person. These are things that God revealed to be preventing me from fully pressing into His glorious presence and from fully engaging in the things He has called me to.
And I need to call these “hindrances” what they really are:
Short-changers of God.
Grief to the heart of God.
So what am I doing about them? I mean, identifying them is a step but if you just leave it at that what, in the end, has actually been accomplished?
Throwing off hindrances
Well, social media is my biggest time vacuum so I’ve began limiting the usage. I removed the apps from my phone. No facebook or twitter while I’m at the office. And only an hour of usage on the sites for the rest of the day.
As far as food goes, I’ve got a goal to eat healthier, smaller portions and lose weight, a fantastic accountability partner to help in the journey and an intense workout schedule that involves Jillian Michaels, running and trying not to die.
Diligently memorizing Scripture is another area that keeps my way pure (Psalm 119:9) and more Christ-saturated instead of Sophie-saturated, so I’ve committed to returning to weekly Scripture memory.
Not just about me
Salvation does not depend on me, I understand that. But I don’t want to in any way cloud my ministries or obstruct my heart and thus hinder the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. I want Him to have a clean and usable vessel with which to work and use for His kingdom’s advancement on this earth.
That’s extra motivation for me to throw off the sin and hindrances.
(From my journal 6/18)
I’m so sorry I find so much pleasure and satisfaction in things that waste the time You give here on this earth. I’m sorry for seeking frivolous and fleeting things more than You and I’m sorry for allowing things to consume me. I’m also sorry for my attitude towards this cleansing and casting away of the hindrances (idols) in my life.
I want to purposefully stop seeing this as being stripped of something great and instead look and intentionally focus on what I will gain: more of You. The true longing on my soul. So here I am, Father, laid bare before You, asking once again for grace and strength to throw off the sin which so easily entangles (that I often invite to be tangled) and look to You. I do ache for more of you, Lord.
I ache for Your tangible activity and I ache to press into Your presence unobstructed and unhindered, so I praise You for sanctifying me a little bit more. Make me holy, Lord. Whatever it takes for me to look more like Your Son, do it. Whatever it is, pain or prosperity, You will carry me through it and therefore I can pray in confidence. You won’t leave us or forsake us.
So bring the rain.
Cleanse my heart and hands.
Purify me according to Your Word.
Have Your way, Lord.
For the glory and exaltation of You Son.
For the advancement of Your kingdom.
For the redemption of souls (especially my True Beauty girls).
For the increase of Your Word, fame and renown.
For the furtherance of Your work through RTM.
For the joy of all peoples.