Steven Furtick - Wrestling With Your Past
This is an excerpt from: Don't Fight Your Future
That's the reason God gives you a word. That's the reason God gives you an experience. That's the reason he leads you through the valley: so you can get to know the Shepherd, so that when you face that situation again, you'll be stronger, wiser, better, and ready. Stronger, wiser, better, and ready. I'm stronger, I'm wiser, I'm better, and I'm ready. I was taught to put off my old way of life. Wouldn't it be nice if it were only that simple? "Yeah, man. Just put it off". Like this. Everybody in the room, do what I say when I say it. Ready?
Stand up. I love the contrarians, like, "No, I am seated in heavenly places with Christ. I know where this is going". Stand up. It's an illustration. Help me. Now sit down. That's kind of how I read it. "Put off the old self, and put on Jesus". That simple, right? So, yesterday, we were at Graham's wrestling, and this lady was sitting up at the top of the bleachers, and she kept yelling for her team…not just her kids, the whole team. That's great. I yell for our team too, and it's great to do that and be supportive. Only know these kids can't hear you while they're out there wrestling, so all you're really doing is getting it out of your own system. They can't hear any of that. Besides, what is this lady going to coach that kid to do from up there? I mean, maybe she was a former NCAA Division I champion in her heyday. I didn't get that feeling, though. I didn't get that impression. It just seemed like she was loud.
So, this was the moment of moments. I was already praying about how to end this series. I was out there praying about it, and she gave me my answer. I'm thinking of Paul saying, "Just put off your old way of life. Just stop being negative. Be positive. Just do that. Just stand up. Trust God. Just trust him. Trust him like the Bible says". How? "With all your heart". So, it was a heavyweight match, and her team was the Spiders. She was cheering for the Spiders. They had a big spider on the back of the uniform, the singlet, the tights, the Spandex they make wrestlers wear. You have to be tough to wear those tights out there. I'm telling you right now, that's tough.
So, it's a heavyweight match. That goes up to 285 pounds. The boy who was winning was every bit of 285, and the boy who was losing was not, because it's a broad weight class. The boy who was winning was on top of the boy who was not winning. I think I'm going to do this as an illustration. I put in my notes, "If you feel they need it, act it out". So, I'm going to act it out because I feel like you need it. I feel like all this is good. "Put off the old self". But what I wore in here is heavier than a jacket. What I wore in here and what I'm worried about is heavier than just a bad day. Remember he said, "The old self"? Old means it has been going on a long time. A lot of the things we preach about really quickly have been things you've been carrying for a long time.
So, it doesn't feel like, "Just put it off. Just stop being manipulative". "Dude, I struggle with manipulation because I was abandoned young, so I had to make things happen. The only way I know how to do stuff is to make things happen, because I had to make things happen. Now you're telling me, 'Just take that manipulation… Trust God.'" So, I'm going to be the guy who was down on the bottom, and I'm going to show you how you feel and what this lady was screaming. Graham, come up here. Graham is going to be the big guy. Remember, this is an illustration. Had this been in actual reality, I would kick his butt right up here. Just get on top of me like you're 285. It's something like this. Don't hurt me. Maybe the bigger guy has his forearm in the back of his neck, so do that. Yeah.
Then the lady at the top of the bleachers is yelling, "Stand up!" to the Spider on the bottom. I'm sure he thought… She knew his name. I don't remember. Let's just call him Steven. "Stand up, Steven"! I'm sure Steven was thinking on the bottom, "Oh, yeah! That's what I'm supposed to do. I'm supposed to stand up. Thank you, lady at the top of the bleachers who hasn't exercised in five years, for reminding me what I'm supposed to be doing down here". I think you feel like this when I preach sometimes, but you don't want to hurt my feelings, so you won't admit it. I'm saying, "Trust God"! and you are like, "Thanks! I didn't think of that! Yeah, I should just trust God. I already had to fire 14 employees in my small business, but I'll just trust God. That'll be great. That'll really mean a lot to their pregnant wives who are expecting their fourth child, and now I had to lay them off. I appreciate it. I'll trust God".
You know, "Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. Be free"! "Oh yeah, I'm supposed to be free. Never mind that this dependency is chemical and psychological and societal all at the same time". That's why when Barbara Kingsolver was on Holly's book club and she was talking about the opioid crisis in Appalachia, I was so enlightened for her to talk about how we judge people as being bad by their behaviors, but we don't understand the brokenness that came from their background to create the behaviors to begin with. "Stand up"! She said, "Stand up! Be a Spider"! I don't have any legs. I don't spin webs. I'm not a faith giant. I'm not the apostle Paul. I'm not Jesus Christ. I'm just down here trying not to get pinned, trying not to be on my back. What I realize more and more when I preach is I still need to tell you to stand up, but being told to do it and being taught to do it…
Paul said, "You were taught Jesus". (I can't see y'all right now. Am I doing good? Make some noise. I need the encouragement. This is very, very embarrassing. I did not want to do this illustration, but if it'll help us get on the same page…) "Do the new you". I'm like, "Do the new me? I'm just trying to breathe, eat, feed people, and not end up in prison". This pressure. I said, "Stand up". Do you know what I want to say when somebody says, "Stand up" and you have the… "Shut up". You know, "Hey, just go make it work and trust the Word and step out on faith," and all this. There's something inside of you that says, "You tell me to do it, but teach me to do it". (Are you all right, Graham? You got the good part of this illustration. Why did I do it this way? I could have flipped this.)
Watch what happened when Paul said in verse 20, "That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth". Watch this. Everybody say, "Stand up"! "I quit. I don't want to be a Christian. I think I'm going to try Buddhism. This is too hard. I can't do this". But if truth comes… What I've been trying to do, what I know I need to do, what I wish I could do, what you keep telling me to do… Buck, come. Buck, come. Buck, Buck, Buck, Buck. Do you see what happened when I called Buck? Oh, do you see what that devil did when I called the name, when I said, "I've got somebody greater…" Greater is he who is in me than he who was on my back. Now I got it off me! Do you see what I just did? I called somebody bigger. I called somebody stronger. I called a state champion, and you knew it too.
See, the Devil knows your weak spots, but he also knows there's something in you that is so much greater. What is in you is so much greater than whatever is on you. That's why I declare and I prophesy and I preach and I proclaim in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, "Stand up"! Stand up! I know the money is really bad right now and the car isn't new, but stand up! I know it doesn't look good right now and you can't figure it out, but in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk! Get up and worship! Get up and move forward! "I know the plans I have for you, plans for a hope and a future, a new beginning and a different ending, a gift that is in you that eye has not seen and ear has not heard and neither has it entered into your heart".
When you call the name of Jesus, when you say, "The one who created me is greater than the one who is fighting me…" When you say, "The one who created me gave his life to redeem me from the shame that is on me…" Now I can stand up like a spider. I can stand up like a saint. I can stand up like a new creation. I can stand up like a child of God. I can stand up like a Spirit-filled, blood-bought, Devil-chasing, sin-defacing, overcoming child of the Most High God! "Jesus, I need you"! Try it again; I'll call Buck. Tell the Devil, "Try it again; I'll call Jesus. Try it again; he'll send the angels. Try it again; he'll drown you in the Red Sea of my trouble".