Have you ever been scared of what people may think about you? So scared that you are silent? That you say nothing and do nothing for fear of offending? Most of us have probably been there. I was. Some days, I still am! But, in the last few years of my life, there has been a shift. I’m thankful for it.
I listened to a sermon on this very point, once, (I wish I had written down who it was by)! It reminded me just how easy it is to fall into that place of fear. It also reminded me how to break away from it. Let me just share some of the the nuggets I jotted down that day:
“If you are pursuing God’s calling on your life, you are going to have critics.” (Think - all the people who have discouraged you, laughed at you, or disheartened you in general by their lack of understanding and/or support). He goes on to say, “This is why the loudest voice in your life can’t be the critics. It has to be the voice of God. And the more intimate you are with God, the less intimidated you’ll be by the criticism of others. If you’re not living for the praise of other men, then you won’t die by their criticism…The more secure we are in the Father’s love, the less we let the insecurity of others rattle us.”
True to form, you know I have to pull in a Biblical reference here of someone who listened to God over the criticism of men. You guessed it, it’s our guy: Noah. It may seem like a dramatic example. I mean, I feel like the things God asks us to do today may not be as large and visible as an actual Ark… but maybe that’s the perfect metaphor for how it feels. Big, intimidating, and unexplainable. One might even call it unexpected.
Okay, lets get back to the meat of it:
Aside from Adam and Eve, Noah is the first person the Bible notes as having “walked faithfully with God” - (Gen 6:9 NIV). Literally. It’s the first mention of God peaking to someone in the Bible since Adam. Now that I’m thinking about it, it doesn’t surprise me that the Bible kicks off with the story of Noah. It represents a theme that has been prevalent from the beginning of time. Listening to God’s voice. And more importantly, obeying it.
In this episode, I’ll read directly from the Bible to give some context. Beginning in Genesis, chapter 6: 5-22. After listening to the story, you’ll see that Moses did listen to God’s voice and he was obedient. Likely in the face of mockery. Likely for DECADES…maybe even up to 120 years (although the exact time it took to construct the ark is up for debate). Can you imagine standing in the face of heavy criticism for over one hundred years? Not just standing, but acting in obedience despite it! If I had to take a guess, I’d say he was called every name in the book, starting with crazy and deranged! But Noah’s obedience resulted in blessing and favor. It resulted in life and a chance that no other person would have in his lifetime or ever again. And isn’t that how we should view our own obedience? As something only we can say “yes” to? As something that no other person may ever the opportunity to experience but YOU?! At the end of the day, the loudest voice I need to hear is that of God. Not the critics. So, if you are listening to this, and it touches your heart like it did mine - be encouraged. Be encouraged that you can break away from the fear of criticism and find peace in One whose opinion is the only one that matters. You are full of purpose. And you have the power to touch lives with your voice of honesty and faith.