Joel Osteen - Finding The Lost You
I want to talk to you today about Finding The Lost You. Life has a way of changing us. At one time we were outgoing, excited about our dreams, grateful for our family. We saw the best in people, and excelled at work, positive, hopeful. Then life happens. We go through a disappointment, and we lose a little joy. We make mistakes and lose a little sense of value. People do us wrong and we lose a little passion. Our dream doesn't work out and we lose a little confidence. We look up and wonder, "Where that other person went"? A men said to me last week, "Joel, I've lost myself. I used to be so passionate, so caring, I don't know what happened, I don't even recognize who I am". He'd been through a loss, things hadn't turned out the way he thought, now he was a fraction of what he used to be. But God didn't create us to start off excited about life, believing for our dreams, and then end up defeated, insecure and lonely. That's life trying to change who you are.
You may have lost yourself, the good news is: you can find yourself. You can go back to who God made you to be. The real you is still there: the joyful you, the passionate you, the confident you, the victorious you. One reason Jesus came was to recover what was lost, to restore what was stolen, to heal what was broken, to give you beauty for ashes, joy for mourning. What you've lost is coming back. God is about to do a new thing. He's not going to leave you had a deficit. He sees what you've been through, and he's going to make up for it, he's going to breathe new life, new passion, new opportunities and new vision. You haven't seen the best version of you yet. It's still in front of you.
But there is something you have to do. You can't sit on the sidelines, feeling sorry for yourself, thinking you washed up, "Man, I've made so many mistakes, and why did these people do me wrong"? As long as long as we have a defeated mentality, we're going to get stuck. You have to get back in the game. Stir your faith up, start believing again, start dreaming again, start hoping again.
In the book of Genesis, Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, and they had this magnificent place to live, beautiful flowers and peaceful streams, big trees with luscious fruit. God would come out at night and talk with them. They were so happy, confident, secure. They woke up excited about the day, grateful for what God had given them, then life happened. God told them not to eat the fruit from a certain tree, but they got deceived and did it anyway. When they did, immediately they felt guilty, they knew they had done wrong. Their consciences came to life. They recognized they were naked, they weren't wearing any clothes, they were ashamed and embarrassed, so they ran and hid, put on some fig leaves to cover up, got under some bushes and behind some trees to make sure that they weren't visible.
When God came to visit in the garden that evening, he said (Genesis 3:9), "Adam, where are you?" God wasn't asking this question to find an answer, he already knew where they were. He was asking to make Adam think, "Where are you?" not just physically, he was talking about his state of mind, his attitude, how he saw himself. He was saying, "Adam, where is the real you? Where is the you I created, the joyful you, the confident you, the valuable you, the peaceful you? Where is that person gone"? God is asking us, "Where are you? Where is the you before you went through the disappointment? The you before the breakup? The you before the mistake? The you before the business slowed down? Where is the passionate you, the friendly you, the kind you, the positive, hopeful, generous you?" that's who God made you to be.
But too often, like Adam, because of mistakes, disappointments, we lose that person. We can look back and think, "Man, I used to be so passionate about life, I used to have big dreams, I used to feel valuable and secure, I used to be outgoing and fun, I had a great personality, I don't know what happened to me". You may have lost who you are, but God is going to bring that person back. Nothing that's happened to you has taken the real you. Adam said, "God, when I heard your voice I was afraid so I went and hid".
How many of us are hiding because of things we've gone through? Hiding our potential, hiding our personality, hiding our smile? You have so much to offer, but the way many people handle hurts and failures and disappointments is to isolate, to disengage, turn their feelings off, push down any emotions, not pursue any dreams. They show up at work, but they're not really there. They have great ideas, but they never share them. They're in the house physically with their family, but they've checked out emotionally. The pressure, the hurts, the mistakes have caused them to go into a defense mode where they don't participate, they don't answer the phone, they don't interact with friends, they don't share their feelings.
The enemy would love for you to live disengaged, unplugged, hiding your gifts, hiding your creativity, hiding your feelings. God is saying, "Where are you? I created you to bloom, to blossom, to shine, to enjoy life, to be a blessing, to love, to laugh, to accomplish"? But it will never happen if you're hiding. Hiding behind mistakes, hiding behind hurts, hiding behind injustice. "I wasn't treated right, Joel, that's why I'm bitter. I went through a breakup, they hurt me, that's why I'm not passionate anymore". Or "My spouse and i, we don't get along, she doesn't respect me, that's why I've checked out". The enemy is using that to keep you in hiding, feeling ashamed, insecure, no enthusiasm.
Here's a key: God can't heal what's hidden. He's asking you to come out, to get back engaged, but he's not going to force you. You have to make that choice to come out of isolation, come out of fear, come out of shame, come out of regrets, and get back in the game. That part of you that you lost, can I encourage you? It's looking for you right now! The joy, the talent, the favor, the confidence, it's knocking on your door. The creative you, the outgoing you, the compassionate you, the generous you. He's been gone long enough. And you have to do your part, get your fire back, start taking some risk. "Well, Joel, if I get involved in this new relationship, I may get hurt again. If I take this new opportunity they may not treat me right, or I may not be any good at it". Yes, it's easier to stay in hiding, if you unplug, disengage, you might not experience as much hurt, pain or possible disappointment, but you'll also never experience the joy, the love, the favor, the victory that makes life so rewarding, and so fulfilling.
The enemy doesn't want you engaged, motivated, passionate, feeling anything. He love for you to go through life numb, never show in this world who God made you to be. Don't fall into that trap. You may get knocked down, but don't go into hiding. That disappointment is not final, get back up again. You made a mistake, don't beat yourself up for 5 years living in regrets, ask for forgiveness and move forward. God doesn't remember your mistakes, why are you remembering them? Those are forces trying to get you to unplug, disengage, so you don't fulfill your purpose. Or maybe your dream didn't work out, you put a lot of effort into it, but the business failed, it didn't make it. Failure is an event, not a person. You don't have to go into hiding, it's not who you are, you're not a failure, you're a child of the Most High God. Any person that's ever did anything significant has had some failures, disappointments and setbacks. That's not the time to disengage, give up on your dreams. If it didn't happen your way, that means God has something better coming.
Or perhaps people have hurt you, they put you at a disadvantage. Thoughts will try to convince you that you're lacking, you're not up to par. "If you were more attractive, if you had a better personality, if you were more talented, this wouldn't have happened". It's easy to go into hiding, live insecure, feeling not valuable. Don't believe those lies, you are made in the image of Almighty God. People can't make you feel inferior, unless you give them permission. They don't determine your worth and value. What they say, how they treat you doesn't change who God made you to be. Now, quit giving them permission.
When I was in junior high I was very outgoing. I had a lot of friends, played sports together, and I was confident and secure, and I was always making people laugh. But when I got into high school all my friends kept growing taller, but I didn't. I went into my freshman year at 4'9 inches tall, people called me peanut. Those thoughts started coming, "You're too short, you're at a disadvantage, people are making fun of you". I let that insecurity in, and it started to affect my confidence. Now I wasn't as outgoing, I started to hide my personality, became more quiet and reserved.
I tried out for the baseball team, and in little league I was always one of the best players, made the all-star team every year, but now in high school people were so much bigger and stronger. We were all in the gym, waiting to see who made the team. Coach called out the names one by one, this friend made it, then another, and another, and another. They all made the team, and I waited and waited, thinking "Surely my name was going to be next", but I didn't make it. The coach called me in afterwards and said, "Joel, you're a good player, you're just too small to play at this level". That was the last thing I needed to hear. For years I let that affect my self-image, my confidence.
I dealt with it the way many of us do. I went into hiding, I wasn't as outgoing, when certain opportunities came I'd shrink back, unsure of myself, wondering what people would think. Maybe I'm not talented enough. But I could hear God whispering deep down in my spirit, "Joel, where are you? Where is that person I created: strong, confident, fun, outgoing? Why are you shrinking back and letting someone else determine your value, when you have so much more to offer"? I had to make that decision to come out of hiding, to not worry about what other people think, not let disappointments take my passion. If I had not done that, I wouldn't be up here today.
Is there some area you need to come out of hiding? You've let what didn't work out, what someone said, how you were raised caused you to shrink back, unplug and now we're not seeing the best of you? When Adam made that mistake, he went into hiding and he tried to check out, but notice how God came looking for him. God could have said, "Too bad, Adam. You blew it, you had your chance". God never gives up on us. Even when we hide, even when we lose the person he made us to be, he keeps coming after us, saying, "Where are you? I miss you, I need you, I can restore you".
Like I did, maybe you've let a disappointment or you've let a mistake cause you to hide your personality, hide your smile, hide your passion. You used to have big dreams, you used to fight for your family, you used to be passionate about your walk with God, but kind of disengaged, checked out, thinking it's not worth it. Can I tell you? God is looking for you. Not the partial you, not the shrunk back version, not the intimidated you: where is the confident you? Where is the outgoing you? Where is the talented you? Where is the you before the coach told you you're too small? Where is the you before you ate the forbidden fruit? That's who God's looking for, the true you. Not the water down you, the you that dream big, the you that knew all things are possible, the you that took steps of faith, the you that was determined to set new standards, the you that didn't let doubt, fear, negativity talk you out of your goals. That's who God's looking for. I believe today that part of you that you lost is coming back. God is restoring dreams, restoring passion, restoring confidence, restoring value, vision, creativity, goals and joy. This is a new day the full you is coming back.
Adam told God he was in hiding because he was naked, he was ashamed and embarrassed. The second question God ask in the Bible was, "Adam, who told you you were naked"? Again God wasn't asking to get information, he wanted Adam to see where that thought came from. That was the enemy deceiving him. It's no different today, the enemy will whisper his lies, trying to deceive us into hiding. "You're not talented enough. You've made too many mistakes. You'll never be successful, you come from the wrong family". You need to ask yourself, "Where are these thoughts coming from"? If they're negative, discouraging, pushing you down, making you feel unworthy, you can be certain they are not from God. Don't give them the time of day. Let them go in one ear and out the other.
When I didn't make the baseball team, that coach was just doing his job, you know judging by the physical, by the natural. But people don't determine our value. I could hear God saying, "Joel, who told you you're too small? Who told you you're not up to par? I created you in my own image. You were fearfully and wonderfully made. I call you a masterpiece, I put a crown a favor on your head". You need to listen to what God says about you, and not all the negative chatter. You may have made poor choices, gotten off course, who told you that mistake stopped your purpose? Who told you that you're washed up, unworthy, just sit on the sidelines? That's the accuser trying to keep you in hiding, feeling guilty and unworthy, so you won't pursue your dreams, you won't accomplish your assignment.
Don't believe those lies, God's mercy is bigger than any mistake you've made. He already took into account every failure, every wrong turn, every compromise. He has mercy, restoration, new beginnings already lined up. His calling on your life is irrevocable. He doesn't change his mind. What he started he will finish, but you have to do your part: come out of hiding, come out of shame, come out of guilt and get back in the game. We need you, your family need you fully engaged. Your children need you healthy and whole. Your friends need you, not the partial you, but the full you, the outgoing you, the loving you, the friendly you.
Maybe you went through a breakup, you had a divorce, who told you that you'll never be happy again? Who told you that that disappointment has ruined your future, that you'll never meet anyone? The enemy wouldn't be telling you that if he didn't know it was going to happen, that's why he's trying to deceive you into living negative, doubting, thinking you've missed your chance. Tune that out. God has beauty for the ashes. The right person, a divine connection is already in route. Your latter days will be better than your former days. Or how about this: who told you you're not talented enough, that all you can make in school are C's and not A's? Who told you you'll never be successful, that you're limited by your family, your background, your education?
That's the enemy doing what he did in the Garden of Eden, trying to deceive you into hiding your gifts, hiding your talents. Don't believe his lies, God has put greatness in you. There are ideas, creativity, business. He's created you to bloom, to blossom, to go where no one in your family has gone. That's why the enemy fight so hard to keep you pushed down, feeling inadequate, where you have a limited vision. No, come out of hiding. God is about to enlarge your territory, he's about to expand your influence, he's about to increase your resources. You haven't seen, heard or imagined what he has in store. He's just waiting for you to come back to who you are. Where is the bold you, the confident you, the faith-filled you, the dreaming you, the mighty hero you?
I saw a video about this stray dog. He's about a year old, and he lived in this busy downtown area in an alleyway behind this big dumpster. One cold rainy night this couple was throwing away some trash and noticed the dog. He was curled up in the the corner, shaking, shriveled up, it's very thin, lost most of his hair. The girl felt sorry and went over to help it, but the dog was very angry, he growled and showed his teeth and had both paws out. Girl wouldn't give up, she went home and got some food and blankets. This time she got down on her knees to be more at the dog's level. She put some food out, and talked very gently and softly, and little by little the dog be to let down his defenses, she was able to get close enough to pet the dog. And after about an hour, she gained the dog's trust enough to pick it up.
She and her husband took the dog home, she didn't know if he was going to live, he was so frail and thin. In her house the dog went to the corner and would never put his head up, it just hung down, so afraid and uncertain. This girl just kept loving it, giving it food, doing her best to win it over. Then the video fast forwarded to a year ahead. You wouldn't believe it was the same dog, this dog was so playful and fond, he was jumping up on them, he would spin around in circles so happy, run and fetch things in the backyard.
That playful, healthy loving dog was in there this whole time, but when you go through hurts, mistreatment, bad breaks, there's this natural tendency to isolate, disengage and become angry. We put up these defenses and think, "This is just who I am. I'm bitter because of a bad childhood. I'm angry cuz the company did me wrong. I've given up on my dream cuz I've made so many bad decisions. Look where I am, Joel". Like that little dog, there is so much more in you. You're just letting that defense mechanism cause you to isolate, push away, thinking that staying in hiding is the way to deal with it.
That is not the best option. God has seen everything you've been through, who hurt you, who didn't keep their word. He's seen the mistakes you made, the times you took that wrong turn, and now you're in that corner, not wanting anyone to help. Like that young woman went with compassion and rescued the dog, God is coming to you. He's calling your name. If you'll come out of hiding, if you'll let down your defenses and give it another chance, you'll discover a life greater than you ever dreamed. God is not finished with you. He didn't create you and then decide to walk away because of mistakes, neglect or bad breaks. He's a God who restores, a God who has new beginnings. He's saying: "Where are you? Let me turn things around, let me love you back into wholeness, let me pay you back for the unfair things".
And it's not always something big, it may just be you're hiding a part of your personality, letting insecurity and what other people think keep you from blossoming into who you were created to be. Or letting mistakes convince you to feel unworthy. You know you have so much more in you, you can feel God calling you to step up, to get out of your comfort zone. It's much easier to stay in hiding, not having to stretch. Yes, it's easier, but you'll never never be fulfilled, settling for less than what God put in you. There'll always be a subtle unrest, a slight uneasiness. That's God saying, "Step into my purpose for your life".
In the book of 1 Kings, the prophet Elijah had just called down fire from heaven and destroyed 450 false prophets. He had just prayed and saw a three and a half year drought come to an end, he had just outrun a chariot for 20 miles. You would think he would never have a down moment, he was so powerful and anointed. But at one point he was so depressed, he wanted to die. When the king's wife heard about the prophets he had destroyed, she sent words saying, "I'm going to kill you by this time tomorrow". Elijah got so afraid, so panicked, he took off running for his life.
You can be devoted, faithful, anointed and still have times where you lose who you are. Elijah ended up hiding in a cave, went into isolation, didn't want to talk to anyone. His attitude was, "I'm done, this is the end of my life". God came to him in the cave and said, "Elijah, what are you doing here"? He was saying, "This is not who I made you to be: afraid, intimidated, defeated. You've lost who you are: bold, confident, faith filled". Elijsh said, "Well, God, these people are after me, and I'm the only one serving God. Everyone else has turned away".
God told him to go stand outside the cave. After a mighty windstorm, rain, and fire, God spoke to him again. I can imagine Elijah leaning in, listening so intently, "What is God going to tell me this time"? God said it again (1 Kings 19:13), "What are you doing here"? As powerful as Elijah was, he lost part of himself. He got distracted and forgot who he was. God didn't say, "Elijah, I feel sorry for you. Man, it's been rough, just settle here in this cave". No, God said in verse 15, "Elijah, go back the way you came". God was saying, "Come out of hiding, and go back to who I say you are: powerful, anointed, favored, victorious".
Maybe today, like Elijah, you're committed, you're faithful, you're blessed, but you've lost part of yourself. Things have happened that have taken your joy, limited your vision, stopped your creativity. Now you've settled in that area, not pursuing dreams, not enjoying your family, not passionate about life. God is saying: come out of hiding, and go back to who I created you to be. Get your fire back, get your dream back. No more isolating, checking out, being there but not engaging. And yes, I know things can happen that aren't fair, you don't understand it, but God sees it and that's not how your story ends. This is a new day. I believe and declare: that part of you that you lost is coming back. The confident you, the joyful you, the passionate you, the valuable you, the successful you, the victorious you, in Jesus name. And if you receive it, can you say amen?