Steven Furtick - Let God Be Your Guide
This is an excerpt from: Now Turn North
I think that until what God speaks to me becomes my true north, I will always be lost in my life. "The law forbids you to carry your mat. You can't do that". Your anxiety is always going to tell you what to do until God's Word becomes your true north so that you realize he's greater than any storm of fear you feel.
Is your true north your feelings or is your true north your faith? We live in a time where people do not know the difference between truth and belief. Belief is not necessarily truth. When you say the phrase "That's my truth," you would be better served to say, "That's my belief," because it might be your belief, but it might just have been what you believe based on… Did you notice what the Bible said about the man who was lying down on his mat? It said he had been lying. Had been. Past tense. His situation changed. So can yours. His perspective changed. So can yours. "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is gone; the new has come".
Part of belonging to God and part of becoming what he has called me to be is realizing that sometimes I have circled around something so long it seems to me like my natural habitat. The wilderness was not meant for you to live in; it was meant for you to pass through. There come moments in your life that God will call you out of wilderness thinking, out of wilderness living, out of isolated patterns. You had to do that for a season. Let's praise God for what he gave you to survive in the wilderness, but then God will speak to you and say, "Now turn north". Whose word is this today? God is saying, "Where I've had you is where I've had you. Where I put you is where I put you".
Thank God that you made it as far as you did, as long as you did, without what you had. But what the man said in John, chapter 5, "I have no one to help me," is no longer true. It had been true for 38 years. For 38 years, all he could do was wait for somebody who never came to help him. That's all you can do with the law. You fall; you get up. You fall; you get up. You fail. You feel ashamed. You try to make it through another day. You cope. You hide it. You numb it. You do whatever you can to get through it. That's all you could do because "I have no one to help me".
Moses can only take you so far. The law will always have its limits. That is what the man in the text did not realize. While he was saying, "I have no one" and feeling like, "I am no one," standing right in front of him was the one who singled him out, who picked him out, who of all of the people… Now, you have to get this. Of all of the people God could have put in that family, in that business, in that job, in that role, in that season, in that church, in that ministry, in that seat… Of all of the people God could have put there, you were the one he put there. Yeah. That is my true north: I'm called and chosen by God regardless of what I feel.
"Now turn north". That's the direction of the Promised Land. You've circled around this long enough. You have convinced yourself that you are alone until your loneliness has become a lie. I know the feeling of loneliness is real, but sometimes, just like the man in John 5, you can't see what's right in front of you because of pain you carry inside of you.
Jesus, when he learned it had been 38 years… I think he took a survey. I do. I think he asked around. "How long have you been sick? How long have you been there? How long"? "Seven years". "Not long enough. How long"? "Ten". "Not long enough". "Eighteen". "Not long enough". "Twenty-five". "Not long enough". "Thirty-two". "Not long enough". "Thirty-seven". "Not quite long enough". "Thirty-nine". "Too long". It had to be 38. It had to happen right when it happened. It had to happen right where it happened. It had to happen through whom it happened. If you read down to Deuteronomy 2:13, Moses goes on. Somebody say, "Now turn north". "And the Lord said, 'Now get up and cross the Zered Valley.' So we crossed the valley".
They're moving forward into the Promised Land now. They've been in the wilderness for so long. They've been in the wilderness a long time. They've been living off of manna and water from rocks for a long time. They've been bitten by snakes for a long time. They've had shoes that didn't wear out but never got replaced a long time. It has been a long time. How long? Verse 14: "Thirty-eight years passed from the time we left Kadesh Barnea until we crossed the Zered Valley".
Thirty-eight years passed. Jesus walks up to the pool and says, "I need somebody to use as an illustration of what I came to do. My people are lost in a wilderness of religion, and my people are paralyzed under what the law is powerless to do. They keep trying and falling short and trying and falling short. They are slaves to things they are supposed to rule over, and they are servants to things they are supposed to be masters over. So, I need somebody I can use as a tool to show what I came to do. How long"? "Thirty-eight years". "You're a perfect illustration, because I'm about to show you what I can do to bring you out of a wilderness with one word…get up. With one word…pick up your mat. With one word…walk".
I came to declare when God gives you one word, you can walk in it for the rest of your life. One word from God can get you up. One word from God can make you whole. One word from God can turn it around. "Now turn north". The man was lying there one moment and walking the next moment, and the only difference was what he looked to. As long as he was looking at what was around him, he stayed stuck in what he had. But now turn north. "I lift mine eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth". So, God is saying, "You've turned to everybody. You've turned to everything".
You've turned to drugs. You've turned to sex. You've turned to compulsive work ethic. You've turned to success. You've turned to status. You've turned to buying stuff you don't need to impress people you don't like who aren't paying attention anyway. You've turned to everything else. Now turn north. You've turned to self-help, and you couldn't help yourself. If you could have helped yourself, you would have been in the pool by now. But I see you trying to get to the pool, and you couldn't get to the pool.
So, I have good news. Summer is over, but the pool is coming to you. The pool is open. You can come to this water and drink from this fountain. I don't know who needed to hear it, but your wilderness season is over. Turn north! Come on. Lift your hands and worship for 20 seconds. Now turn north! I release you from regret in the Spirit. I release you from the bondage of yesterday's decisions. I release you from inferiority caused by the patterns of sin. I release you. Now turn north!
I'm not going to be lost forever. God gave me grace to get up. Now turn north. I'm telling you, while I was praying, God showed me somebody. You are going to walk in a completely different direction and manner of life because of this word today. Something interesting happened when Jesus healed that man. The religious leaders didn't like it, and the man didn't really even understand it.
The Bible says that when they asked him (John 5:12), "Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?" the man answered, "I have no idea," for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd. Sometimes God is trying to bring you back to your north, and you don't even know it. You don't even know it's him. God uses certain seasons in your life, even certain setbacks in your life, and, yes, certain blessings in your life so that you will know your north.
So you won't be like me with no sense of direction, just going through your life. I'm grateful that Jesus didn't just let that man walk away, because it was one thing for the man to see Jesus, but it was another thing for the man to see why Jesus had seen him. Look at verse 14. "Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, 'See, you are well again.'" "I gave you a second chance".
I'm going to give you five seconds to praise God for every second chance he has given you in your life. "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you". I love that the passage didn't end when the man got up and walked. I love that before Jesus let him go, he told him why he raised him to begin with. He told him, "You were lying in your excuses, and now you are risen by my power. Now that you know the truth, now that you know your north, I want you to head in the direction of your future and never come back to your past". Who's this for? You can't go back. I don't want you to hear a word from God that turned a direction in your heart, and then you just go right back to the same patterns of sin and isolation you came from. That's why Jesus told him, "Take up your mat". I want you to make a statement. "I won't be back".