Steven Furtick — There Is Nothing To See Here
Look again. Touch somebody. Say, "Take another look." That's for every single person. That guy that broke up with you, I know he didn't see much in you but he needs to look again. Because the next time he sees you, you're gonna have such a confidence about who God made you to be that you know that you didn't need him to begin with. And what he did, all he did was make you take another look within yourself to see I am something.
I am special. I am valuable. I do have something to offer. High five somebody. Say, "Look again." I know I don't look like much right now but look again. I'm coming to the back. I'm coming to the very back Blakely to tell somebody who's been looking at something in your life that seemed hopeless, that God brought you here on this mountain and gave me this microphone to tell you look again. Look again. Look again. Look again.
And also, also look around. You see it on the screen? We're gonna put it on the screen. Look around. Look at the screen. You see it? I see it. But they can't see it at the other campuses because the camera was facing the wrong way. See they were looking back here. Come on. Come on back here. And so they missed what was happening up there.
See what I'm saying? See because he said that the presence of the Lord was about to pass by, but you'll miss it if you're in the cave when you should be on the mountain. The cave is the place where the devil will chase you because since he figured that he can't destroy you, the best he can hope for is to distract you. Absolutely.
And Elijah had a lot of faith and he had made up his mind to serve God. And so the devil couldn't destroy his faith. So the best he could do was distract him. So here's what he did. Since Elijah wasn't scared of Ahab, which was the king, and he stood face to face with the king, and since he was victorious in the big battle on the mountain, what the enemy had to do was distort his perspective with a distraction.
So the devil sent Jezebel, who was Ahab's wife... somebody said that the last decision Ahab ever made was, "I do." It was that kind of marriage. You know what I'm saying? I'm not talking about your marriage. I'm talking about Ahab and Jezebel. And they sent a threat to Elijah. Jezebel sent a threat to Elijah and said, "May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if I don't kill you like you kill all my prophets on Mount Carmel by this time tomorrow."
And Elijah heard it and he was afraid and ran for his life. It always puzzled me why it didn't scare him to go against 850 false prophets on Carmel but one woman could run him into a cave. It always puzzled me, until God told me it's always the things you least expect. It's always the little things, the thumb wars, the little things that destroy a marriage. It's always the little things that make you lose your confidence.
Usually you can recover from one big failure. It's just when the failure becomes a pattern And it drives you into the cave. But if I could share any advice with Elijah, I would remind him that while he was on his way running to that cave in 1 Kings 19:5, and he laid down under this broom tree and he prayed and he asked God to kill him... now this is hilarious.
You're running for your life and you ask God to kill you. I don't wanna die. God kill me. Have you ever felt like that? Not you. Just Elijah. And he had an understanding that God was his protector, but that didn't prevent the pain from being real. It's not sometimes that you're scared you're going to lose. It's just that you're afraid to have to fight another day.
It's not sometimes that you're scared you're gonna lose your job. It's the fact that you know you have to keep it, that you have to show up another day. It's not that your kids ran away from home. It's that they're still there. You see what I'm saying? If we put it on Periscope again... and I don't even know, I think I'm off Periscope now. It might still be going. I don't know.
But if we put it on Periscope, this sermon... and probably everyone who's following this Periscope account is really annoyed right now but I wanna use it. It's all dependent on our angle, what we see. If I'm on Periscope and all I show is this, you wouldn't get a real good sense for what's happening in this room until I back up and look around and see.
I mean if you're logged on and that's all you saw, you'd probably log off. But when I start panning the room and I show, you know, hundreds and hundreds of people who really love Jesus and who are hungry for His word and who came to church today to praise God and don't mind getting up on their feet for a moment and showing Periscope what it looks like when Elevation Church praises God... see, it's a different perspective. Watch this.
We're in the same place but we just changed perspective. That's all that happened. So I would remind Elijah. I would say, "Remember when you were running through the wilderness? And remember when you were laying under that tree and asking God to kill you?" And look at 1 Kings 19:5. Look what God did. Look how good God is. Look how gracious He is, even when your perspective is off. Look how faithful His promise is.
It says, "He laid down and fell asleep, and all at once an angel touched him and said, Get up and eat some of this angel food cake I prepared for you." And then he what? Come on, look at the screen. Don't look at me. He what? Looked around. He looked where? Around. He looked around.
Some of you came into church looking down today, looking down, looking back, looking down, looking back, looking down, looking back. Some of us all we ever do is look inside. We've got our lens so pointed on ourself. We've got our spirits stuck in selfie mode. And then we wonder why we're miserable. And then we wonder why we're limited. And then we wonder why we have no joy. And then we wonder why we have no peace.
God said, "If you would flip the lens for a minute and switch perspective, you might see that I put opportunities all around you, but you're never gonna see them in the cave." You can't see it in the cave. Touch somebody. Say, "You can't see it in the cave."
Now the lighting crew is really upset because they've been following me all over this auditorium but they don't have a camera for this, what I'm about to do now. Huh? Are you still here? I can't see you. Are you still here? I can't see you. I can't see you. The fact that I can't see you isn't an indication that you left. It's just an indication I need to switch positions.
Sometimes the fact that you can't sense God isn't an indication that He's not there. It's just an indication that you're hanging out in the wrong place. Now if you think I'm talking about a physical place, you missed the whole message. Because the cave is not a physical location. It's a state of mind. The cave is a place of what? It's a place of comparison, where you measure yourself against somebody else.
And the problem with comparison is when you're making your comparisons, you never have the full context. So you see somebody else and you see what you think they have but you don't know that they're barely making the payments for it. Some people take pictures in stuff that they tuck the tags in because they have to take it back after they post it. It's a puppet show. It's a puppet show and shadows and echoes and it's killing our kids. It's killing our kids.
You need to pray for me because my kids are nine and seven and four and I don't know how I'm gonna raise them in this world of shadows and echoes and still get them to see what's real. It makes me nervous that they're gonna think that the echoes are the sound and the shadows are the sight.
We compare ourselves and sometimes we compare ourselves to people who have less than us and then we get cocky. And sometimes we compare ourselves to people who have more than us and we get condemned. Sometimes we compare ourselves to people who we think are right there on our level and we get complacent. But either way we don't fulfill our calling because we're in a cave of comparison. Comparison.
The cookies you made your kids were fine until you went on Pinterest. Because some of the people that you envy their stuff, they envy your satisfaction. Some of the people that you envy are actually miserable and wishing that they could be set free from their own cave. And as long as we're comparing, why don't we take a moment and get a real perspective?
The scripture says that all of our righteousness is like filthy rags. Some of us get a real attitude about how holy we are and we love to look down on other people who don't measure up to our standard. I have a feeling that if we could get one good glimpse of God, none of us would be running our mouths about anybody else's struggle.
I don't think any of us would be strutting if we could see Him as He is. But you won't see that in the cave. In the cave all you'll think is that everybody else has something that you don't, everybody else knows something that you don't, and everybody else, and everybody else.
And that's what Elijah did. He started talking to God. He said, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God. They have torn down your altars." And he's right. He's right. He had been through a lot. But you know what God told Elijah? He said, "Hey, I got 7,000 people who haven't bowed down to Baal."
In other words, you're never as alone as you think you are. But in the cave, you feel all alone. And then the anxiety starts in the cave. And then you start fearing outcomes that you can't control. And then you're so tired the next day because you stayed up all night and now you don't have the energy to deal with real life because you were up all night watching the puppet show.
Not everybody needs this today but somebody really does, because you've been chained in a cave. You've been chained up in a cave and God wanted you to look... what? Around. And look... Ahead. And look ahead.
That's my third letter A. Look ahead. Because while Elijah was in the cave fearing for his life, God had already worked out what he was worried about. You know there are only a few biblical characters that did not die. Just a few. Elijah is one of them.
Could it be possible that the thing that you're worried about is never even going to happen unless you create it through your fear? Could it be possible that God really has surrounded you with people who love you? But you're so scared they're gonna leave you because instead of looking ahead you're looking back. What are you seeing now? Now. That's the question.
Some of us aren't seeing possibilities because all we see is our past. And so God said, "Elijah, go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of God. Go out and get a vision."
See, God's voice will reach you in the cave but His vision will only be revealed on the mountain. God will always love you and He will always speak to you, but when you lose your perspective, you won't see His plan. And so all you can see when you're in the cave, all you can feel when you're in the cave, all you can hear when you're in the cave is the echoes of what went wrong and the pre-play of what might.