Joyce Meyer - Chasing Your Future By Confronting Your Past
I want to talk to you tonight about ways that people run from their problems, how we avoid things instead of dealing with them because I believe that we are in a time in our society when so many people are running from everything, from their responsibility to accountability. People run from hard work, they run from hard things. They try to avoid difficult places. They try to avoid difficult people. They try to avoid all kinds of pain, not that anybody loves pain, but there's a little bit of pain always in being set free. People run from themselves.
A lot of people don't even know themselves at all. They run from the truth. They run from the past. They're afraid of the future, but the Bible teaches us that God wants us to live courageously, that he wants us to be bold and strong in him and to not really cower from anything but to know that he is always with us and because God is with us, we can face and deal with anything that we need to face and deal with in our lives. If you believe that, say amen. I believe that instead of running, we have to learn to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.
Now there's an interesting thing about running and I'm gonna show you four different places in the Bible to prove this that whatever you run from, God will eventually take you back to that thing or that place that you ran from and you will have to deal with it before you can ever really get well. I got a few people that have actually been there, I guess, because you're getting it. Amen? Now you know I was abused by my father sexually so when I left home, I just thought well, that was over, but I realize later that I took it with me and it was in my soul and I didn't want to deal with it. It was painful. I didn't want to deal with it so effectively I was running from it because I just didn't want to face it. I didn't want to talk about it. I didn't want to pray about it. I just wanted to pretend like it didn't exist.
I wonder if you have anything in your life from your past or even anything that maybe God's trying to deal with you right now that you just have developed all these nifty little ways of just pretending like it doesn't exist. Cause you really don't want to deal with it. Well, let me tell ya something, sweeping things under the rug, so to speak, is actually a very dangerous thing. Just because you choose not to look at it, that doesn't mean that it's not there. And God has anointed us to deal with stuff and not run. And I'm not suggesting that anybody do what God had me do. I am suggesting, however, that you do whatever God does lead you to do.
Now let me say that again, you don't need to do what God led me to do, but you do need to do what God leads you to do and he does lead us in different ways. So I was praying one day and I felt like God just put it on my heart, "The time is not yet, but the time is gonna come when you're gonna have to go and face your father and confront him about what he did to you". If you've ever known anything about sexual abuse from watching tv programs, or because it happened to you, or from knowing somebody that it happened to, the whole thing operates on this terrible secrecy. "Don't tell anybody. Don't tell your mother. Don't let anybody know". The abuser's telling you that it's a good thing but at the same time they're telling you to hide it, which is an oxymoron and doesn't make any sense.
So I spent my whole life hiding everything that he was doing to me, afraid to tell anybody. And the last person that you ever confronted about it was him. I remember one time writing a letter telling him how awful what he was doing to me made me feel, and I just got in so much trouble and got punished and so I was afraid to ever even attempt to say anything to him again. And I think one of the most devastating things for me was being forced to act as if I liked something that I actually hated and despised. It was manipulation and control in the worst way. So when God told me that I was gonna have to go and confront him and speak with him openly about what he did to me and how it affected me, the very thoughts of it just scared the living daylights out of me and it was the last thing in the world that I wanted to do. And I sure was glad that on that day God spoke to my heart, "The time is not now, but it will come".
And so maybe I could just say to you tonight, maybe God is just wanting you to get ready, at least mentally, to be willing to deal with things that you may need to deal with in order to get well. You see the thing is, is you can't run from things and hide from things and ever really get well. You know whether it's a sin in your life that you need to deal openly with, with God, whether you need to go back and make some restitution with somebody that you really hurt and wounded, maybe somebody in your life has really mistreated you and they're living in this fantasy land that it didn't bother them. And maybe for their sake you need to go back and in a loving way sit down and confront them, and tell them what they did to you, and how they made you feel.
Sometimes you can't get well without that. And I know that all of you are not hurt in the way that I was hurt or the way that some other people in here have been hurt, but let me tell ya, I believe that what I'm gonna share with you tonight applies to every single one of us in some way, shape, or form, even people who let other people manipulate them and control them because they're afraid to make them mad. Don't let somebody else steal your life because you're afraid to confront them and say, "You really have no right to control me and manipulate me, and I'm not gonna let you continue to do it". Can anybody say amen?
I mean we want to come under godly authority and be submissive but that doesn't mean that you let somebody else manipulate you and control you and live your life for you. We are to be God pleasers and not men pleasers. And so I was glad that God didn't have me do it right then 'cause I sure didn't feel like I was ready. But I don't know how long went by, maybe a couple years and I was spending some time with the Lord again one night and I mean just in the middle of prayer I heard the Holy Spirit say, "The time is now". Oh, my gosh.
Well, I was shaking so hard and so scared. But Dave went with me and I went and I sat down in front of my dad. And, of course, my mother was in the house and so I was very concerned about what was gonna happen to her because she'd already had a nervous breakdown from not dealing with her issues and the things going on in our home. And so it was quite a frightful scene but I remember confronting him and telling him, "We need to talk about what you did to me". And boy, he got mad and started firing all kinds of things back at me. "Well, you know, wanted me to do it," and this and that. I said, "That is ridiculous. You controlled me with fear, and I hated you, and I hated every single thing that you did to me".
And so anyway I just told him, "What you did has really hurt me and it's really caused a lot of problems in my life and it was wrong. And I just needed to tell you how I feel about it". But I did him that because of my love for God, I was willing to forgive him, but I wanted him to deal with it so he could get well and not just run from it and hide from it. Well, you know, it didn't end the way I would have liked for it to have ended, but I had obeyed God and so a door of freedom opened up for me that never could have opened if I would have continued to let the fear of man manipulate me and control me.
And I said this this morning but I'm gonna say it again, for many of you, I'm coming with a prophetic word tonight saying to you, it's time. It's time to get the stuff out from under the rug that you've stuffed under there. You don't wanna stuff your stuff. You gotta deal with things because if you don't deal with them, they will deal with you. They steal your joy and they just get more deeply rooted on the inside of you and it causes deep, deep, deep problems. We don't want to run and hide from anything, not even something as little as getting a stupid closet cleaned out or getting our house in order that's a wreck. We need to stop acting like everything overwhelms us and know who we are in Christ, that he is Emmanuel, God with us, that he is in us and the greater one lives in us. Let's don't just sing songs about it. Let's live it. Amen?
So just the point that when you run from anything, God will ultimately make you go back and face it. Moses, acts chapter 7, verse 22, "So Moses was educated in all the wisdom and culture of the Egyptians, and he was mighty (powerful) in his speech and in his deeds". You see, God was training him for him something he was going to be doing years later. And some of you right now may think that what you're doing is just so useless because you got a dream to do this other thing, but everything that we do is part of the next thing that we're going to do. Amen? "And when he was in his fortieth year, it came into his heart to visit his kinsmen the children of Israel to help them and to care for them". He had a desire to help people.
That was a good thing. "And on seeing one of them being unjustly treated, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian and slaying him. He expected", and I love this verse and I'm gonna talk to you a little bit more about tomorrow about why I like it so much. "He expected his brethren to understand that God was granting them deliverance by his hand taking it for granted that they would accept him: but they did not understand". You know, I thought when God called me into ministry that everybody would clap and cheer, but they did not clap and cheer. They did not understand. They were not excited, and I got the exact opposite of what I expected from people.
Do you ever get the exact opposite of what you expected from people? You know what? God doesn't want us to make our decisions based on whether or not people clap and applaud. He wants us to do what we do because we believe that's what he wants us to do. It's time for some people to stand up and be strong in the Lord and stop being manipulated by popular opinion. "Then on the next day he suddenly appeared to some who were quarreling and fighting among themselves, and he urged them to make peace and become reconciled, saying, men, you are brethren: why do you abuse and wrong one another? Whereupon the man who was abusing his neighbor pushed Moses aside, saying, who appointed you a judge or a ruler over us? Do you intend to kill us like you did the Egyptian yesterday"? Verse 29, "At that reply Moses sought safety by flight," that means he ran away, "And he was an exile and an alien in the country of Midian, where he became the father of two sons. And when forty years had gone by," which now means he was 80.
My goodness. Running can waste a lot of time. "There God appeared to him in the wilderness". Now you'll notice in all four of these things that I'm gonna share with you tonight that anytime these people ran, they always ended up in the wilderness. Is anybody with me tonight? The wilderness is a dry, miserable, wretched place. You don't feel good about anything in your life and then it develops all kinds of other problems because if you don't like what you're doing, then someway, you have to find someway to make an excuse for it or to blame it on somebody else. And we get so far down the rabbit hole that we don't have any know how of how to get out.
"So after forty more years had went by, and he was now 80, "God appeared to him in a burning bush. When Moses saw it, he was astonished and marveled at the sight: and then he went close to investigate, there came to him the voice of the Lord, saying," now this is so good, "I am the God of your forefathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob. And Moses trembled and was terrified so much that he did not even choose to look. Then the Lord said to him, take your sandals off your feet, the ground on which you're standing is holy ground". Verse 34, "Because I have most assuredly seen the abuse and oppression of my people in Egypt and I have heard their sighings and groanings, I have come down to rescue them".
Now watch this, "So, now come! And I will send you back to Egypt". Come on, somebody ought to shout. See, how can we ever be free from anything if we're running from it? How can we possibly be free from it if all we hope is that we never have to deal with it again? If that's our goal to never have to deal with anything again, I can guarantee you the devil's gonna make sure that you deal with it around every corner. And the way to get to the point where you are not afraid of things is to face them. The only way that fear ever goes away is when you face it, when you confront it. Gotta learn how to do it afraid.
When I sat in front of my father, I was so afraid. I was shaking, I was so nervous, but I could not get on the other side of it unless I dealt with it. The only way that you can get free is to deal with things. The truth will make you free, but the truth has to be applied in your life in order to make you free. He ran from Egypt and God sent him back to Egypt. Genesis chapter 16, verses 8 and 9. Now, I know some of you, your wheels are turning. You're thinking, "How does this apply to me? How does this apply to me"? Well, I'm quite sure God will show you. I honestly think that some people have things buried so far down in them that it's under so many layers, still hurting them and causing them pain, but they don't even realize it's a problem in their life.
Genesis chapter 16, verses 8 and 9. Now, you know, this is a situation where God had promised Abraham and Sarah a child and Sarah wasn't getting pregnant fast enough. And many years had gone by and she was disappointed so she came up with this very carnal, fleshly, bright idea that she would have her handmaiden, Hagar, become her husband's secondary wife, which you would think any woman would be smarter than that, but she wasn't. And sure enough Hagar got pregnant and then she got an attitude towards Sarah. Today it might go something like, "I'm pregnant and you're not".
So Sarah got to the point where she didn't want Hagar around anymore so Abraham made her leave. He dealt with her afflicting her. He didn't make her leave. And she fled, verse 6 says she ran or she fled from the situation. Verse 7, "But the angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water," where? Where? "On the road to shur. And he said, 'Hagar, saraI's maid, where did you come from, and where are you going?' and she said, 'I am running away from my mistress.'" and watch what God said to her. He didn't say, "I understand, run fast". It says, "The angel of the Lord said to her, 'go back.'" well, "'go back to your mistress and humbly submit to her control'".
Now what kind of a thing is that? Here this woman is mistreating her. She's running away from it which seems like a reasonable thing to do. Let me tell ya something, just because you want to get away from a place that's uncomfortable for you, that doesn't mean that God wants you to leave. Now we're connecting. Hmm... Now, there are times to leave places, but it's not when you feel like it. It's when God makes you leave. God told Abraham to leave. "You leave the place where you're at. You get away from your family and all your relatives and you go to a place that I will show you". They were all idol worshipers and God couldn't do anything with Abraham until he got away from their influence.
God may tell you to get away from some ungodly friends. He might tell you to leave a job where they're making you do things that are sinful, but there's a lot of other times when we leave someplace just because we're not being treated the way we think we deserve to be treated. And maybe learning how to deal with some of those things is exactly what God wants and he's got us in the place he wants us to be for right now. I worked for somebody else in ministry for 5 years and I did not feel that I was treated right and it was hard, hard, I'm talking to the maximum it was hard. It was one of the hardest things that I have ever done in my whole life to not just get up and in my style of doing it say, "I'm outta here". But you know what? That would have been easy and then once again I could have avoided somebody else that had a personality like my dad's. I could have taken care of myself instead of waiting for God to take care of me.
Are you there? And I knew that I knew that I knew in the pit of my gut that God did want me to go yet. Just because you want to do something, that doesn't mean that you get to do it. Do I need to say that again? Just because you want to do something, that doesn't mean that you get to do it if we're gonna be really submitted to God, do you think it was easy for Dave to stay with me the first few years that we were married? It couldn't have been. And I don't really think that Dave ever seriously thought about leaving, but he did finally get around to saying to me, "If you keep acting the way you act, I'm not sure what's gonna happen".
And that was kind of like Dave saying, "I may just be out of here if this continues," and I knew that he wasn't the type of guy to threaten. He married me because he felt in his heart that he was supposed to and he was committed to seeing it through to the finish. And I believe that sometimes God will take a mature Christian and he'll put them with somebody who is broken and needs help. Yeah, I know some of you are going like, "Oh.".. In our society, we have become addicted to comfort. The Bible says that we're to serve God whether it's convenient or inconvenient, comfortable or uncomfortable, in season or out of season.
So, Moses ran, and God sent him back. Hagar ran and God told her to go back. Now, what about Elijah? I'm not gonna take the time to turn to all these places 'cause I've got a six-part message and I'm not even in part one yet, so... Elijah ran from Jezebel. He ran out in the desert. He got depressed. He sat down under somethin' called, "A lone juniper tree," whatever that was, and wanted to die. An angel came and ministered to him, and then he ended up going and standing in a cave, and eventually, he heard the voice of the Lord, the still small voice. And, it's so wonderful, you can read it in the amplified Bible, God said him, "What are you doing here"?
I mean, if you're in a difficult situation and all you do is sit around feeling sorry for yourself day in and day out because you're not in the place you'd like to be in, maybe God is saying to you tonight, "What are you doing"? Anywhere where God has us, he will give us the grace to be there with a good attitude. I said, anywhere where God has us, he will give us the grace to be there with a good, godly attitude. You never know what kind of fruit you've got until it's squeezed. You can go to all the seminars you want to on the Fruit of the Spirit, and sing songs about love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, meekness, gentleness, and self-control, but you never know if you can operate in the Fruit of the Spirit, or not, until somebody presses you or pushes you.
So, don't think that God will not let you get in some hard places because he not only will let you, he will lead you there. The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil 40 days and 40 nights. He didn't wander out there because he was lost, the Holy Spirit led him there to be tested and tried. He had to face it off with the devil, and let the devil know that he wasn't gonna back down from him. Little David had to face Goliath before he could ever become king. And, let me tell you somethin'. No matter what kind of an anointing is on your life, or what you're called to do, or what kind of blessings God has in store for you, as long as you're running from things you'll never wear the crown. I had to confront my father to be able to stand here tonight, along with lots of other things in my life that I had to confront.
Now, you know, if you were abused by somebody, I'm not telling them you need to go sit down with them and get in their face and tell 'em off. God might want you to confront somebody but don't do it just because I'm telling you my story. You make sure you hear from God about what he would have you do. God doesn't deal with everybody the same way. And, matter of fact, it might not be wise at all for you to go do that. But, in whatever way you do it, you do have to confront it and deal with it even if that's sitting down, talking to a good friend in detail about what happened to you and exactly how you felt about it, and saying, "I need to get beyond this. I need to face this and get beyond it". "What are you doing here"? Second time, he said, "What are you doing here"? And, if you read 1 kings chapter 19, God told him, "I want you to come out of that cave. Go back to where you came from. Get back to work. Anoint a new prophet. Anoint a new king".
And, I love what he said. He told him to anoint Elijah to take his place. Wonder how he liked that? "Not only do I want you to get back to work joyce, and quit feeling sorry for yourself, I want you to start mentoring other people who will take your place when you fade away in the dust". "Well, thank you Lord. I'm very happy about that". And then, my goodness, what about Jonah? Oh, yeah. Boy, was that ever a trip and a half. We gotta go read this. Jonah chapter one. Jonah chapter 1:1, "Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, arise, and go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim against it, for their wickedness has come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee," that means to run, "To Tarshish from being in the presence of the Lord as his profit".
Now, if you look on a map Tarshish is the exact opposite direction of where God told him to go. Wonder how many people might be running in the exact opposite direction from the will of God? Matter of fact, I just feel anointed to talk to my television audience right now, for a few minutes. Don't think I don't know you're there. I'm not just talking to the people in this room. Wonder how many of you know down deep inside of you that there's something that God has asked you to do? Perhaps there's a call of God on your life and you've decided you'd rather be in business. Well, you know what? It won't work. If you're running from God and you're running from the will of God for your life, you might as well give it up early, and you can save yourself a lot of time in the wilderness, or like Jonah, a lot of time in the whale's belly. It's so interesting that he ran from God.
And, verse 17 in chapter one says, "Now the Lord had prepared and appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights". Now, chapter two tells all about that belly of the whale experience. Seaweed wrapped around his head and waves coming up over... I mean, it was just... Can you imagine the stink and the mess? Finally, when he prayed the fish vomited him out. Chapter 3 verse 1, "And the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, arise, and go to Nineveh," no matter how many whales it takes... Are you with me? God's not gonna change his mind. Come on, somebody track with me tonight. I wonder how many whales swallowed me before I finally said, "God is God and I might as well do things his way"? How many days I wasted in the wilderness? How many mountains I went around and around and around the same time until I finally figured out that God was smarter than me? Amen, amen, and amen.
Now, let's talk about some ways that we run from our problems. Simple, little things that probably everybody deals with but we don't see them for what they are, so we want to give some revelation tonight. One of the ways that we run is by making excuses. Uh-huh. Luke 14:18, "But they all alike began to make excuses and to beg off. The first one said to him, I bought a piece of land, and I have to go out and take care of it: I beg you, have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to examine and put my approval on them: I beg you, have me excused". And, this is my favorite one. "And another said, I married a wife and because of this I'm unable to come". Please have me excused. Now, you know, just truthfully, let me say somethin'. And, some of you may not care for it, but... You know, a lot of people use the excuse that they can't do anything for God because they've got family.
Well, let me ask you a question. When Jesus called his disciples and they left everything, walked away from their businesses and followed him, do you think any of them had families? Peter had a mother-in-law so he had to have a wife. And, chances are, he had kids. Whoever said you can't do anything for God if you've got a family. You don't want to ignore your family in order just to do some kind of ministry. But, everybody has something that God wants them to do. Everybody has something God wants them to do. Everybody has something God wants them to do. Everybody has something God wants them to do. So, what is your excuse? "Well, I don't want to get involved in anything at church. You know, I did that once and I got hurt". "Aww..."
Listen, I've gotten so hurt in church that I thought I would never recover from it. Don't think just 'cause you go to a church that doesn't mean you're not gonna get hurt. Some of the meanest people in the world are in church. The thing we want to do is just make sure we're not one of them. Amen? What's your excuse? Do you know that I didn't even start this ministry? Now, I started teaching Bible studies at home when I was like, 36, I think. And then, I did that five years and then I worked at a church for a while. I didn't even start this ministry until I was 42. Didn't even start until then. And, I had four kids: three teenagers and a baby.
So, please don't tell me that you can't do anything for God because you've got a husband or you got a wife or you've got kids, or you've got responsibilities. That might even be better, "Well, I don't have anybody to help me". "Well, maybe after I get married, I'll serve God". "Well, maybe after my kids are grown, I'll serve God". Can I just tell you that no excuse is gonna be accepted by God. Not, "It's too hard," or, "I'm too young," or, "I'm too old," or, "I don't have the right education". Galatians 5:13, "For you, brethren, were indeed called to freedom," everybody shout out, I am free. "Only do not let your freedom be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or an excuse for selfishness". I am so tired of listening everybody yell about their rights.
Let me ask you a question. When does you getting your rights, when is that okay for that to take away my rights? Amen? I'm sorry, but I don't quite get that. It seems today, that everybody's got rights but Christians. I mean, that's ridiculous. "Well, I'm free to do what I want to". Well, not if it's hurting somebody else. That's what the Bible says. But, let me tell you somethin'. As believers in Jesus Christ and people who represent the God of all the earth, we are not of the world, we're in it, but we're not of it and we can't be like it. And we have to be responsible.
Now, let me tell you a couple of sad, but hopefully, lessons that we can learn something from. And so, my mother knew that my father was abusing me because I told her when I was about nine years old. And, she confronted him but he lied about it, and I ended up getting in trouble from him, and how lonely that felt. And then, when I was fourteen, she walked in the house and caught him. She turned around and walked out of the house, came back two hours later and never said another thing.
Now, I don't understand how anybody can do that, but it was fear. It was fear of him. It was fear that she couldn't take care of herself if she left him. And 35 years after that all happened, she finally said to me one day, "I'm sorry for what I let your father do to you. I just could not face the scandal". Okay, now, I just want to show you what running does to you. Okay? If she would have confronted him and put her trust in God, and said, "I don't know what I'm gonna do but I'm getting my daughter out of this situation. God will take care of me. He will help me". How much different my life could have been? My brother's life would not have turned out the way that it did. And, her life would not have turned out the way that it did. And, I think this is a very important message for somebody tonight, maybe if not in this room, surely, somebody watching by television.
You have to confront things. But, out of fear, strictly out of fear, she ran and hid, she ran and hid, she ran and hid, and the guilt of it eventually, ate away at her mental health until she had a complete, total nervous breakdown and had to take shock treatments for two years. She was never ever, ever really the same after that. I mean, almost any expert will tell you that upwards of 80% of all illness is rooted in stress. Until I dealt with all that mess in my life, I had headaches, I had migraine headaches, my hormones were haywire, I was tired all the time. You cannot hide from things and run from things because they will keep dealing with you. Let me tell you somethin'. Any place that God leads you to, he's ready to take you through and to bring you out in victory. Amen? It's time. It is time. It's time to stop running. Come on, let's give God a good praise here tonight.