Joel Osteen - Time To Stop Running
I want to talk to you today about Time To Stop Running. It's easy to avoid things in life that we should be dealing with. We've been through hurts, people did us wrong, instead of forgiving and moving on, we push it down. Or maybe we need to apologize, we need to make things right, that's uncomfortable, so we keep putting it off. Sometimes we run from our fears, a new door opens, we know it's a God-given opportunity, but we're afraid, we feel unqualified. Instead of confronting our fears, we shrink back. Some people spend their whole life running: running from dealing with the temper, running from getting back in shape, running from the call of God on their life. As long as you're running, you're going to miss the greatness God put in you. You can't conquer what you don't confront. Too often we're comforting what we should be confronting, we're making excuses. You can't run from everything that's uncomfortable, you can't ignore issues, sweep them under the rug, think that they'll go away. When you get honest with yourself, when you confront what you know you need to deal with, yes it may be uncomfortable, but God gives you the grace, the strength, the power to do what you couldn't do on your own.
When David saw Goliath everything in his mind told him, "He's too big. You better run the other way like everyone else in the army". But the scripture says, "David ran quickly toward Goliath". He knew if he didn't confront this giant, if he didn't face his fears, he would miss his destiny. He was uncomfortable, he was difficult, his emotions weren't supporting him, but as he ran to the giant he began to feel strength that he never felt, confidence, boldness, skill, expertise. He slung the rock and defeated Goliath. When you run to your giants, God will make things happen that you couldn't make happen. You won't reach your destiny running from things that are hard, running because it's uncomfortable. You don't feel like forgiving, you don't feel like dealing with that sour attitude, but when you're running from your giants, you're running from your destiny. When you're running to your giants, to what you know you need to confront, what you know you need to deal with, you're running to your purpose.
Don't take the easy way out spend your life running: running from your past, running from mistakes, running from people that did you wrong, running from fears, insecurity, pride. God is saying: it's time to stop running. Face those giants. Confront what you've been ignoring. On the other side of that giant is a new level of your destiny. Like with David, when God sees you make a move to start running toward what's hindering you, to deal with what you've been ignoring, God will breathe on your life, and it won't be as difficult as you think. He will go before you and make crooked places straight.
Are you running in some area today? Running from making things right in a relationship? Running from getting your finances in order? Running from starting that business, writing that book, going back to school, thinking that you don't have what it takes? That's what Gideon was doing: he was hiding in a wine press. When an angel showed up, and told him he was to lead the Israelites in battle, that he was a mighty man of fearless courage. Deep down Gideon knew this was true, he knew the call of God was on his life, he could sense greatness was in him, but he was at a decision point. Was he going to keep running, letting fear, insecurity, "I'm not qualified", keep him from his destiny? Or was he going to face his fears? Was he going to confront or just stay comfortable?
You can't become all you were created to be staying comfortable. Don't run from things that are hard. Don't shrink back because you don't want to put forth the effort. It's uncomfortable to get honest and deal with the temper, it's uncomfortable to forgive someone that hurts you, it's uncomfortable to say "I need help with this addiction", I'm gonna deal with this bad habit.
Gideon stopped running. He faced his fears, confronted his insecurity, he became one of the heroes of faith. We all face these times like Gideon where we have to make the decision: am I going to keep putting off what I know I should do? Am I not going to rock the boat, deal with the bitterness, how I treat people or how I see myself? Are you going to comfort your insecurity, your temper, your hurts or are you going to confront it? The problem with running is it doesn't go away. Ignoring it doesn't mean it's going to disappear. Before you can move forward, you're going to have to come back and deal with it. It's much better to face the giants now. Don't go 10 years living below your potential, because you didn't want to do the hard thing, you didn't want to be uncomfortable. When you take that step towards your giant, God is going to step in and help you to do it.
1993 Mary Johnson's only son was at a party one night. Things got out of control, shots were fired, her 21 year old son was killed. When she heard the news, she was so devastated that she passed out. Three days later they charged a 16 year old boy in his killing. That day she said hate filled her heart. She was so angry, she couldn't sleep at night. At the trial she viewed her son's killer as an animal. This anger grew stronger and stronger. She not only hated him, she hated everyone. Mary knew she needed to forgive, she knew this anger was destroying her, but she wouldn't do it, she kept putting it off year after year, "It's not right. He doesn't deserve it. He hurt me too badly". As long as you're making excuses, comforting what you should be confronting, it's going to hinder your life. When you hold on to unforgiveness, it's not hurting the other person, it's hurting you. We've all heard the saying, "Time heals all wounds". That may be true in one sense, but you can't bury hurts, guilt, insecurity, and think they're just going to go away. Those are toxins that will contaminate your life.
Mary kept running. She didn't want to deal with it. She didn't want to put herself through that pain. It's too difficult to forgive, but to get free, to be whole, you have to do the hard things, you have to be willing to be uncomfortable. What I've learned: is it's not going to be as difficult as you think. When you stop running, when you deal with what you know you need to deal with, there will be a grace to do what you've never done. The reason you think it's going to be too hard is you haven't stepped into that grace yet. It will come when you make a move.
One day Mary made this decision that I'm asking us to make. She said, "I'm going to stop running, not going to let this anger this hatred ruin the rest of my life". She called the prison and asked if she could visit the young man that took her son's life. They were surprised, reluctantly the young man agreed. She walked in that day uncomfortable, not knowing what to expect. They talked for two hours. The young man told how sorry he was. As she was leaving, he asked if he could give her a hug. As they embraced, Mary said, "I felt anger and hatred rising up from the soles of my feet, and leaving my body". It was like a cleansing. She felt a heavy weight lift off of her. From that day forward never had any bitterness, anger, hostility.
When you stop running and deal with what you know is hindering you, it's not going to be as hard as you think. God is going to give you the grace. He's going to prepare people's hearts. He's going to help you to forgive. Don't spend your life running. What you run from you'll always have to go back and deal with before you can move forward. When we comfort and don't confront, all we're doing is putting off where God wants to take us. We're delaying seeing new levels of our destiny.
And here's the key: God will never ask you to do a hard thing, and not give you the ability to do it. When he's asking you to do something difficult, the grace is there, but you have to step into it. Your mind will tell you, "You can't forgive, they hurt you too badly". "You'll never break the addiction, just learn to live with it". "You can't do something great, you're insecure, you're unqualified". Don't believe those lies. There's nothing the enemy would love any more than for you to spend your life running. Running from God's call in your life, running from your fears, running from your hurts, running from your past. It's time to stop running. The only way out is through. You can't go around it, you can't ignore it, and it'll go away. Time won't cause it to disappear. But if you'll confront it, you can conquer it. If you'll face your giants, God will give you strength to defeat what should defeat you. When you do what you can, God will do what you can't. When you do the natural, God will do the supernatural. In your own strength you may not be able to forgive, to break the habit, to lead the company, but you're not on your own. When you stop running, God steps in and gives you power, favor, ability that you've never had.
God brought the Israelites out of slavery, parted the Red Sea, and took them toward the Promised Land. They were camped next door, God had already promised them the victory, all they had to do was go in and take the land. But the people living there were much bigger, they had more experience, more equipment. The Israelites were afraid and intimidated. They told Moses, "We can't go in there". Instead of running to the giant, they ran from the giant. They spent 40 years in the desert running. My prayer is: God help us to not waste years of our life running from things that you've already promised we can conquer.
Ephesians 6 talks about putting on the whole armor of God: the helmet of salvation, breastplate of righteousness, belt of truth, shoes of peace, shield of faith, all these awesome things to protect us. What's interesting is there's nothing for our backside, there's no armor to cover our rear. That's because God never created us to be running, he created us to confront our giants, to face our fears, to stand strong in faith. Don't be like the Israelites and spend your life running from things God has already given you victory over. All he needs is for you to stop running, deal with it, and he'll be right there to help you.
40 years later the children of these Israelites were back at the Promised Land. What's significant is the giants weren't gone. God didn't clear out the path, they just walk into the land - they still had opposition. What you don't confront, your children will have to deal with. But when you stop running, when you face your fears, defeat bad habits, forgive the wrongs, you are breaking generational curses, you are putting an end to negative cycles that keep getting passed down. I want to make it easier on my children, my grandchildren, I'm not going to run from things that are hard, not going to take the easy way out and live afraid of the giants, intimidated by the size of my dream, letting my mistakes stop my destiny. No, let's go into our Promised Land.
The children of these Israelites, this new generation, they had a different attitude. They saw the same giants, same intimidation, same fear, same thoughts come saying, "You don't have a chance". Their response was, "No, thanks, we're not running, we're not going to spend our life wandering in the desert, we know greater is he that's in us than what's coming against us". They faced the opposition and went into the land their parents could have had 40 years earlier. Why don't you confront things that your parents, and those that went before you didn't confront? Maybe they learn to live with the addiction - you can face it and conquer it. No more running, no more accepting it, don't take another lap take a stand. You're the one to go into the Promised Land. You have to be honest with yourself: it's easy to ignore things, make excuses, you may have to confront pride, or confront a bad attitude, confront compromise. Maybe you need to apologize to someone, you need to make things right. The longer you put it off, the longer you're wandering. To go into the Promised Land you have to be willing to deal with things that you know are limiting you.
The Psalmist said, "God, keep me from lying to myself". That's a powerful prayer. Sometimes we don't want to pray that, we want to keep things hidden, we don't want to deal with things that are uncomfortable, but it's much better to be open and honest, and say "God, show me areas that I need to change. Not my spouse, I have a list of 43 things she needs to do, not my cousin, not my child, but where do I need to come up higher"? When you live out of a place of humility, you're willing to deal with things God brings to light, there's no limit to how high God will take you. We all have areas we need to grow, but it's tempting to make excuses, "Joel, I've always been hot temper, I've always held grudges, I've always been critical, arrogant, defensive, this is just who I am". No, you're running. You're comforting what you should be confronting. If you'll do like Mary, and face those giants, you'll step in to a new level of your destiny.
This is what Jacob did. He lived compromising, cheating people. He tricked his brother out of his birthright. Esau had been out hunting all day, and he came home so hungry, he was famished. He could smell the aroma from the pot of stew Jacob had made, he wanted some so badly. Jacob said, "I'll give it to you, if you'll give me your birthright". The birthright in those days was very valuable. Esau was his twin, but he was the firstborn son. They always received the double portion of the inheritance. But Jacob was so manipulative, he took advantage of his brother not thinking correctly. Esau gave him his birthright for a pot of stew.
Years later when their father Isaac was about to pass, he called Esau in to give him the blessing that belonged to the firstborn son. Isaac was nearly blind, couldn't see, so Jacob dressed up like Esau: put on his clothes, his shoes, his cologne, walked in said, "Dad, here I am. I'm ready for my blessing". Isaac was a little skeptical, he said: is this Jacob? Or is this Esau? Jacob said: it's me, dad, it's Esau. Isaac said: come closer, let me fill your arms. Esau was very hairy, like my brother Paul... Jacob had on a coat of animal fur before PETA. His dad felt it and said, "I guess it is Esau". He gave Jacob the blessing that belonged to Esau. When Esau found out, he was so angry that Jacob had to flee for his life, started running, lived in exile, worked for his uncle Laban.
What's interesting is Laban was dishonest to Jacob. He promised him one daughter in marriage, but when the time came he tricked him and gave him his other daughter. Be careful what you sow, because what you sow is going to come back to you. 20 years later Jacob got tired of running. He decided to go back home. What's significant is the only way he could get home was to go through the city of edom, where Esau lived. What you run away from, you'll always have to go back and deal with. Home for Jacob could have been a different direction, Esau could have moved to another country, but right in Jacob's path was Esau. When we ignore, push down, that doesn't mean it goes away, that's still going to be between you and your destiny. The good news is: God will give you the grace to deal with it.
Jacob sent word to Esau, saying that he wanted to make things right, they had been at odds long enough. Esau agreed to meet him. As they were traveling down the road, Jacob saw Esau and all of his men coming toward him. You can imagine the apprehension, Jacob not knowing how his brother is going to respond: is he going to be angry? Is he going to get revenge? Will this be a big fight? Esau got closer and started running toward him. Jacob was expecting the worst, but Esau grabbed Jacob and hugged him, wouldn't let him go. Went over to Jacob's wife, his children, hugged them as well. After all he had done to Esau, he never dreamed one day they would be hugging affectionately. But when you stop running, when you deal with things you push down, when you get honest with yourself and make things right, the grace of God goes before you. God will soften people's hearts, he'll make your crooked places straight.
Like Jacob, you may have made mistakes - we all have. You may need to apologize. You may need to ask for forgiveness. You may need to call that loved one you haven't spoken to and make peace. Don't wonder 20 years like he did, running from your past, making excuses for your failures, thinking that's just who you are. Stop running. Ask God to help you to change. When you make a move, you'll see his hand of favor making things happen that you couldn't make happen.
The night before this big encounter Jacob went to the brook by himself to be alone with God. He was no doubt reflecting back on his life, thinking about how he had treated Esau. Jacob didn't like who he had become. He knew he was better than this. An angel appeared that night, and he looked like a man. The angel and Jacob started wrestling. Jacob must have known there was something significant, because he said to the angel, "I'm not leaving until you bless me". The angel asked him: "What is your name"? That seemed like an odd question, why did he care what his name was? This was the same question that Jacob's father asked him when he was there to get Esau's blessing.
I can imagine a debate was going on in Jacob's mind, saying "Just tell the angel that you're Esau, like you did with your father. Just keep pretending, keep being dishonest, is it just who you are. Jacob thought about it, said "No, I'm not living like this anymore. Not going to keep compromising, making decisions that I'm not proud of". He said to the angel, "I am Jacob". His name means trickster, conniver. He was essentially admitting, "I don't have integrity. I deceive people". He got honest with himself, he quit running.
The angel didn't say, "It's about time. You need to get right, you're never going to be blessed". When he admitted who he was, God changed his name to Israel, which means prince with God. The principle is: when you get honest, you don't make excuses, that's when God changes things. You don't have to keep running from your past, your mistakes, what you're not proud of. When you go to God, he's not going to condemn you, he's going to help you rise out of what's holding you down, and thrust you into your destiny.
Jacob never dreamed he would be called a prince with God. He never dreamed he'd have a good relationship with his brother. He never dreamed he would be able to live in his hometown without all the fear, the negative things in his past. But when you quit running, when you live open and honest before God, when you deal with things he brings to light, he'll not only restore you, but he'll make things better than you've ever imagined.
Later in my father's life I arranged for all these radio stations to carry his messages. All I needed him to do was to come down once a month for maybe a half an hour, and we'd make all the openings and closings, very easy. And I'd worked on this for six months, getting it all arranged, and everything fell into place. But when I asked my father, he said, "Joel I'm 75 years old. I'm not looking for any more work. I just want to pastor the church and relax". I was so disappointed, I said "God, you put big dreams in my heart, have a big vision, I'm young, I don't want to do less, I want to do more". I thought, "Maybe this is a time to go work somewhere else". I had an opportunity to work for one of the most prominent ministries at that time, but when I got quiet, I could hear a still small voice saying, "Joel, this is your father's vision. Just because he's not doing what you want, doesn't mean you should leave. Stay here and honor what he wants to do".
Sometimes when we're not getting our way we want to run. We're not getting the credit, they don't see my talent, this supervisor is not fair, I'm out of here. And yes, there are times we need to move on, but you can't run every time it's uncomfortable in your marriage, your job, your school. If I had not stayed there and honored my father, I don't believe I would be up here today. Some of the things that we want to run from it's a test. God is seeing how we'll serve when we're not being treated right, what kind of attitude will we have when it's not fair, when we're uncomfortable, not getting the credit. Don't have a running mentality. Every time you don't get your way you change jobs, change friends, change churches, change spouses... Stop running! Grow in those times! Let your roots grow down deeper. Don't be moved by what's not working out, your character is being developed. God is seeing what he can trust you with.
Genesis 16 Hagar was the maid that Abraham had a baby with out of wedlock. It was Abraham's wife Sarah that had the big idea, but Sarah was so upset, she started making Hagar's life miserable. Verse 6 says, "Sarah treated her harshly, so Hagar ran away". Hagar had had enough. She thought, "I don't have to put up with this, I'm out of here". She left and went out into the wilderness. An angel showed up and said, "Hagar, what are you doing out here"? She said, "I'm running away, these people aren't treating me right". The angel didn't say, "Oh, that makes sense, I don't blame you". He said, "Go back to Sarah and submit to her authority".
Anything you run from, you're eventually going to have to go back and deal with. I'm not talking about staying in abuse, but I'm saying: you can't run every time things get hard and reach your destiny. You can't pack up because you're uncomfortable. God won't have you somewhere and not give you the grace to be there. The angel went on to say, "If you'll go back and serve Sarah, God will give you more descendants than you can count". When you stop running, you do the right thing when it's hard, there is a blessing that follows. God will show out in your life, take you to levels that you've never dreamed.
Are you running from something today? Are you comforting what you should be confronting? Don't go another year out in the wilderness, putting off what you know you should do. Get honest with yourself, deal with the issues God's bringing to light. It may be difficult, but when you take that step, the grace of God is going to make it easier than you think. If you'll stop running, I believe and declare: like the children of the Israelites, you're going to break negative cycles that have held your family down, and go into your Promised Land. Like Mary, you're going to have the power to deal with issues. Heavy weights are about to lift off of you. And like Jacob you're going to rise out of mediocrity, and become all God's created you to be, in Jesus name. If you receive it, can you say amen today? Amen.