Joel Osteen - Leave It Alone
I want to talk to you today about Leave It Alone. We all have situations that we're believing will change: a child is off course, someone's not treating us right, a door is closed. We feel this pressure to fix it: I've got to straighten this person out, I got to force this door to open, I got to make this problem resolve. We take matters into our own hands, we strive and strain, and often end up frustrated. We have good intentions, we want to do our part, but there are times when the best thing you can do is leave it alone. You have to be still and know that he is God. That battle is not yours. The battle is the Lord's. Some things you can't fix, no matter how hard you try, how much pressure you put, how many favors you call in, it's not going to change. If you keep forcing it and manipulating things, trying to convince this person to do right, it's not only going to bring more stress, but you're making matters worse, you're going to do more damage than good.
"Well, Joel, I'm trying to use my faith". Sometimes it takes more faith to do nothing than it does to get it all stirred up. Takes more faith to leave it alone than it does to try to force it to happen. But there will be this urgency, this underlying pressure telling you, "You have to do something, you have to defend yourself, don't let them get away with it. You have to manipulate things so you can get that promotion. You have to make your loved one do what's right". Don't fall into that trap. After you've prayed, you believe, you've done what you can, you have to take your hands off of it, "God, I trust you. I know you've got this. You're working all things for my good. God, while I'm waiting, I'm going to stay in peace. I'm going to be still, and let you do what only you can do".
This was hard for me, because I'm a doer. My personality type is not to sit back. If I have a problem, a goal, a dream, I'm gonna find six solutions, call three experts, line up four options, come up with a strategy, the plan. That's all in the first half of the day, the next half I'm gonna really work. I believe in being on the offensive, taking steps of faith, but I've learned some things only God can change. The more you try to force it, the more frustrated you're going to be. The Psalmist said (Psalm 127:127), "Unless the Lord builds the house, we labor in vain". How many of us are laboring in vain, constantly struggling, always trying to force things to happen, trying to change our spouse, and convince this co-worker to like us, and harping on our kids to get back on course? It's like we're running uphill with leg weights on, everything's a burden.
We're trying to control things we can't control. Working harder than ever, not seeing any improvement, that's laboring in vain. But if we're not putting forth all this effort, trying to make it work out, you can kind of feel guilty, "I got this problem, Joel, I got to do something". But it says in Hebrews 4:3, "Those who have believed enter into rest". It's okay to leave it alone. You don't have to make it happen in your own efforts. Give yourself permission to rest, to not worry about it, not strive, not come up with 12 solutions. You've done your part, now take your hands off. It's not going to happen just by your might, by your power, by your intellect. It's going to be the hand of God. You don't have to force the favor. You don't have to beat down doors, make your business grow, make yourself get well, pay somebody back for doing you wrong, prove to them who you are. All that's going to do is drain your energy, take your joy, steal your creativity.
God is saying to you today, "Leave it alone. Trust me to handle it. I'm going to bring the right person. I'm going to turn your business around. I'm going to change that child. I'm going to restore your health. I'm going to give you that baby you've been dreaming about". When you turn it over to God, it takes the pressure off. You don't have to figure it all out, you don't have to strive in strength. It's not up to you to make it all happen. You can live in peace, knowing that God's got this, he's in control. When it comes time for things to change, all the forces of darkness cannot stop what God has for you.
Jesus told a parable in Matthew 13. A farmer went out and planted wheat in his field. He did the right thing, he sowed good seed, he was expecting the wheat to come up and have a great harvest, like he'd seen year after year. But in a few months he not only saw the wheat, but there were weeds coming up everywhere. When the workers saw it they were puzzled, he said to the farmer, "What happened? You didn't sow this, we saw you plant good seeds, didn't make sense". He said in verse 28, "An enemy came in at night, and planted these weeds". Wasn't the farmer's fault, he had to sleep, wasn't like he was lazy, slacking off, not watching over his land. He did the right thing, but still the wrong thing happened.
Just because you have difficulties doesn't mean you've done something wrong. You may have sown good seed, you've been faithful, you honor God, you give, you serve, you go the extra mile, but now you have some weeds popping up in your field, things you didn't sow. You don't understand it. You raised your child right, but he's gotten off course. You could blame yourself, "What did I do wrong"? You didn't do anything wrong. The enemy came in at night and sowed some weeds. Or you worked hard in your business, you got the early, stayed late, you've done more than you have to, but you had a setback, you lost a client, a competitor moved close, took some of your business. You could be frustrated, wondering: why this happened? It's just a weed.
The good news is: the reason you have weeds is because the enemy knows you're going to have a great harvest. He wouldn't have snuck in at night and planted the weeds, if he didn't know abundance is coming, healing is coming, promotion is coming, the right people are coming. Don't get discouraged over the weeds, that's a sign that something amazing is in your future. "Well, Joel, I was doing the right thing, but this door closed, these people did me wrong, I came down with this illness. Why did this happen"? Have a new perspective: the enemy would not have wasted his time sowing weeds into your field, if you weren't destined for greater things, destined for new levels, destined to take your family where they've never been.
When the workers saw all the weeds, they asked the farmer, "Should we go pull up these weeds"? He said, "No, if you pull up the weeds, you're going to damage the wheat. Let them grow together, and when the harvest is ready, then they'll be separated". The workers wanted to fix the problem, they wanted to help, get rid of these weeds, but this farmer said, "Leave it alone. You didn't sow the weed, you don't have to pull up the weed". If they would have been stubborn, "We're not going to let these weeds stay, we're going to fix this problem". If they'd taken matters into their own hands, they would have ruined the harvest.
I can imagine the farmer seeing those weeds every day, that had to have bothered him, "I don't like these weeds, things are out of order, people are going to think I'm lazy, I'm not a good farmer. I need to make this right". He had to fight the temptation to pull up the weeds, was something he could have done. He had the ability to correct the problem, but he knew it would have damaged his harvest. It takes faith to leave it alone. When you take your hands off, and not pull up what you know you can fix, but you let God take care of it, that's not a lack of faith, that's great faith. When you can say, "God, I trust you with my weeds. I trust you with things I don't understand. Not going to get in a hurry and try to fix things that will damage my harvest. I'm going to leave it alone". That's a powerful position.
But maybe today there are weeds in your life, things you don't understand, you know you didn't sow it, the enemy came in at night. You could live worried, and feel this pressure to pull up the weeds, and fix the problem, change this person, manipulate this situation. There's an urgency saying, "Do it now, these weeds aren't right". God is saying, "Be still, and let me take care of it". That's not your battle: you didn't sow it, you don't have to pull it up. One of the greatest tests will ever space is to be still and know that he is God, to leave things in his hands. One critical thing said in this parable is: if you don't leave it alone, you're going to damage the harvest. Doing it your way, forcing things, manipulating, striving, you may get something done, but it will be less than God's best. You have to know at the right time, when your harvest is ready, God will take care of your weeds: he'll turn your child around, he'll vindicate you in front of your enemies, he'll promote you to levels you never saw coming.
There are a couple of situations I'm praying about now, and believing that they will turn around. There's this underlying pressure, this feeling that, "Joel, you need to make a decision right now. You better take action. If you delay it's going to get worse". The enemy would love to get us all worked up to where you're in a hurry, there's this urgency, you have to do something now. "Come on, there are weeds popping up: your child, your finances, your health". Sometimes we hear that phrase, "Do something unless you do nothing", that's not always good advice. Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing. You don't have to fix it today. You don't have to decide this minute. You're not supposed to pull up the weeds right now. Take all that pressure off. It's very freeing when you say, "God, my life is in your hands. I trust you to take care of my weeds. I'm not going to take matters into my own hands. I know, you're fighting my battles. I'm gonna be still and know that you are God".
When my father had a big decision to make, something that was concerning him, maybe a problem where he didn't see a solution, instead of being pressured to make a move, he told how he'd put that problem up on a shelf and pray about it. Every voice would say, "What are you going to do? You have to decide now". He would say, "No, I'm going to wait on the Lord. This is not my battle, he's taking care of my weeds". Over time he would see those situations work themselves out.
Are there some things you need to put on a shelf? You feel this pressure to figure out things, where there's no good solution, come up with strategies, change things that only God can change, that's not your job. And sometimes there's no logical solution. God is going to supernaturally turn it around. If we take matters into our own hands, we're going to be frustrated. And too often we're fighting battles that we're not supposed to fight, we're trying to pull up weeds when God said he'd be our gardener, he will take care of the weeds. He has many advantages, one is: he knows when the harvest is ready. If you pull it up too soon, that will lessen what God has for you.
This parable ends by saying: when it's the right time, the farmer, who represents God, will separate the weeds from the harvest. He'll bundle up all the weeds, and throw them into a fire. If you'll leave the weeds alone, then at the right time you're going to see some smoking weeds, things that have hindered you. I didn't say you're going to smoke weed... Somebody got their word from the Lord. You're going to see some smoking weeds, things that have hindered you, people that tried to stop you, close doors, all those weeds are going to go up in smoke. God is going to turn things around, and make ways where you don't see a way.
Here's the key: the reason God is waiting to deal with those weeds is because your harvest is going to be greater than you thought. God could have pulled that weed earlier, but he has something bigger than you've imagined. The question is: will you trust him with your weeds? It's tempting to take matters into our own hands, "I got to pull up this weed". You prayed, you believed, you've done what you can, God is saying, "Leave it alone, let me take care of it".
When God brought the Israelites out of slavery, they started toward the Promised Land, but the Pharaoh changed his mind and came chasing after them with 600 of his strongest warriors and fastest chariots. The Israelites could see them coming way off in the distance. They were at a dead end at the Red Sea, and nowhere to go. They begin to panic, so afraid and distraught. They ran to Moses to get a plan. They said, "We have to do something right now, they're going to be here by nightfall, we have a few hours to come up with a strategy". They felt this pressure, this urgency, they were on the verge of being recaptured. They were waiting with great anticipation for Moses reply, "What's the word from the Lord? We're ready to fight, tell us the plan".
Moses said in Exodus 14:13-14, here's what the Lord says our strategy is, "Stand still and you will see the salvation of the Lord. Hold your peace, remain at rest, for the Lord himself will fight for you". I'm sure they looked at him and said, "Moses, are you kidding us? These powerful warriors are quickly approaching, you're telling us your strategy is to do nothing, leave it alone? Can you go back and get a second opinion? We have to do something, we have to defend ourselves, we have to find some weapons, we have to at least create a barrier". Moses said, "No, we didn't sow this weed, we don't have to pull up this weed. This is not our battle".
Proverbs 20:22 says, "Don't say, 'I'll get even for the wrong', wait for the Lord to handle the matter". If you'll wait, God will vindicate you better than you can vindicate yourself. His solution is better than your solution. Hold your peace, remain at rest. You may not see anything happening, but God is up to something.
As these two million people were camped at the Red Sea, the scripture say the angel of the Lord who had been leading the Israelites moved to a position behind them. This thick cloud that was leading them also moved behind them. It was between the Israelites camp and the Pharaohs camp. Now Pharaoh's army couldn't see the Israelites, God had them hidden. The cloud was so thick, they couldn't travel through it, they didn't know where they were. It looked like the Israelites were running out of time, but God knows how to hide you, he knows how to confuse your enemies. One minute the Israelites were right in front of them, the next moment they've disappeared. That's when Moses raised the rod, the waters parted, the Israelites walked through on dry ground. At that point the cloud lifted, Pharaoh's army came chasing, "There they are", but when they got in the sea, the waters closed back up and they all drowned.
What am I saying? God knows how to take care of your weeds. If you will stand still, you will see him show out in your life. And I'm not saying be passive. We need to pray, believe, do what you can, but there comes a time where you have to turn it over to God. Quit worrying about it, quit trying to make it happen, make people like you, make the door open, make the business turn around: leave it alone. If you try to do it in your own strength, it's going to be labor and in vain: a lot of work, frustration, disappointment. Don't fall into that trap. God is in control. He sees what you're going through, he knows who's not treating you right, the doors that haven't opened, the child that's breaking your heart, that medical report that's not good. These are things that only God can change. It takes all the pressure off to say, "God, I'm turning it over to you. I'm going to quit trying to force it, not going to take matters into my own hands, God I trust you with my life".
A friend of mine raised his family in church. They're great people, faithful and loving. Their children were involved in the kids programs where they lived. They went to the camps and volunteered in their teams. These parents did everything right, looked like a model family, but in college the son got involved with the wrong people, and started making bad decisions. He ended up dropping out, on drugs, getting into all kinds of trouble. And he got to the point where he'd barely even see his family. This friend of mine, like any parent was doing everything he could to try to convince his son to get back on track.
He had had so many heated conversations where he had let him have it, and try to get through his stubbornness, but he realized the more he did that the worse it got. He was trying to help, he had good intentions, but he was damaging the relationship further. He finally did what this farmer had to do. He said, "God, I'm going to leave it alone. I can't change him, only you can". He and his wife they kept praying, believing, declaring God's promises, but they quit trying to force him to change, and make him do what's right. And as a parent, he kind of felt like he had failed. He tried to be a good example, and tried to guide and teach his son. He never dreamed it would turn out like this.
But sometimes the enemy comes in at night and sows a weed. There are things that don't make sense, things that are not fair. The good news is: that's not how your story ends. The enemy doesn't have the final say. He may sow some seeds, but that does not stop your harvest. There is a day coming when those weeds are going to be pulled. God is faithful. He sees you doing the right thing.
Years went by, and they didn't see anything improving, nothing was getting any better, but they just kept loving their son, encouraging him. They sent him to rehab again and again. Not long ago he was watching our service on television, he called his father and said, "Dad, I just prayed that prayer with Joel at the end of the program. I'm turning my life back over to God". These parents never saw it coming, it was more than they could imagine, they're so grateful and so happy. It's like he's a different person. He's back in church, honoring God, fulfilling his purpose.
We all have these times where we find weeds, things popping up that we didn't sow. We were being our best, doing the right thing, and now there's opposition, conflict at work, a situation in our health, setback in our finances. It's easy to get frustrated and try to straighten people out, try to force the door to open, defend ourselves against what was said. That's when you have to hold your peace. Remain at rest and let God fight that battle. Sometimes the best strategy is to do nothing. Leave it alone. It can also be the hardest strategy. We want to fix things, we want to vindicate ourselves, we want to push that door open, but you have to stand still to see the salvation of the Lord. If you'll not take matters into your own hands, you'll see God do things that you could never do.
A couple of years after I started ministering, the church began to grow, and more and more people were watching on television. I was amazed at what all was happening, I'd been behind the scenes all those years, and I didn't even know this was in me. But with greater influence came more opposition. There were several very well-known people with large followings that didn't like my message of hope, and how I believed that God is good, and that we can live a blessed, victorious, favor filled life. They came out against me very strongly, and wrote articles, and talked about me at their meetings. And much of what they were saying wasn't accurate, it had been exaggerated, misconstrued. And human nature is you want to get in there and set the record straight. I thought, "Let me tell you who I am. I'm not going to let you mischaracterize me", but deep down I could hear a still small voice saying, "No, Joel, leave it alone. They don't control your destiny, they're just a weed".
But the enemy the enemy would love to get us distracted, fighting battles that don't matter. You don't have time to waste, responding to people that are never going to be for you. Some people are determined to misunderstand you. They don't like the favor on your life. They don't like the fact that you're happy, that you're blessed, you're successful. Don't spend your valuable time dealing with a weed. The enemy wouldn't have sown the weed if he didn't know you were a world changer, a history maker, a giant killer. Ignore the weeds. Don't read the comments. Don't dwell on what they said. If I had not done what I'm asking you to do, and leave it alone, I wouldn't be up here today. If I'd have tried to straighten everyone out, convince every critic to change their mind, make them like me, I wouldn't have had the energy, the creativity, the anointing to do what God's called me to do.
It's interesting now, years later, those that were so vocal against me, and had such a big platform, they're no longer around. They had issues, made choices that have caused things to fall apart. It's too bad, sort of, but my point is: you're not supposed to fight every battle. You won't reach your destiny dealing with all the weeds. When the enemy comes in at night, and sows weed in your good soil, things that aren't fair, you don't understand, don't panic, don't get upset, let God deal with the weeds. Life is too short, your time too valuable, your assignment too important to spend it on things that don't matter.
Are there some things today that you know you need to leave alone? You're striving, trying to force it, living stress, nothing's changing. Why don't you come back to a place of peace? You have to give yourself permission to rest. This takes all the pressure off. That urgency that makes you feel like it's up to you to keep the world rotating, making everything happen. God's in control. You keep honoring him, being your best, and God will take care of your weeds. He'll bring the right people, he'll open the right doors, he'll turn your child around. He hasn't brought you this far to leave you. Those weeds are not stopping your harvest, they're a distraction to try to steal your peace, get you to live all worked up, frustrated, bitter. Try a new strategy: leave it alone.
You can go out of here today a lot freer, with that load lifted off of you, knowing that pulling weeds is not your job. Making everything work out is not your assignment. You don't have to force the favor when your harvest is ready. All the forces of darkness cannot stop what God has for you. The reason it's taken longer is because your harvest is bigger than you think. What God has for you is going to supersede what you have in mind. The question is: will you trust him while you're waiting? Will you be still, and let him fight your battles? If you'll leave it alone, I believe and declare: like with the Israelites, God is going to deliver you from powerful enemies, sickness, addictions, debt, people. He's about to turn your child around, break strongholds that have held your family back. Freedom is coming, wholeness is coming, abundance is coming, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name. And if you receive it, can you say amen?