Steven Furtick - What Are You Hiding Behind?
What are you hiding from? It is the central question of my discourse today, and I believe it's a penetrating question if you will really answer it in your heart. What are you hiding from? Because no matter where Jacob turned or where Jacob went, what Jacob did, what he accomplished, there was always Esau. It's the battle he was fighting when he was 9 months old. It was the battle he was fighting when he was 97. What is your Esau? What is the thing that no matter how many herds and cattle and goats and relationships you acquire, there is always an Esau? It's your hidden issue. It is not the thing you mention to the people in your eGroup. It is not the thing you talk about to people you just met. It is the thing beneath the thing beneath the thing. It is not your behavior. It is not your symptom. It is your issue.
Church is ineffective when preachers only address behaviors, because until you get to the issue that creates the behavior, the behavior will manifest because the issue wasn't healed. What are you hiding from? Your heart may be in hiding because of your fear of rejection. Your heart may be in hiding because of your fear of failure. I understand why Jacob had issues. It's pretty plain in the text. Well, the Bible says there was a lot of favoritism going on in Isaac's household. In fact, I'll show you the Scripture in Genesis 25:28. It says, "Isaac [his father], who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob".
There it is! No wonder the guy spent his whole life in hiding, because from a very early age, he discovered he didn't have what his father wanted. He didn't have the skills to be acceptable in the sight of the ones whose affirmation meant the most. When that happens to you, you develop all kinds of devices to hide behind. Psychologically they call this "abandonment issues". They say when you have abandonment issues… It can happen through a divorce. It can happen through abuse. It can happen through love withheld. It can happen through a circumstance that is so imbedded that you can't even remember what it is. But when you have these abandonment issues, they tell us you tend toward two extremes. One is attachment, and the other is avoidance. You attach (this is Jacob grabbing the heel of Esau), or you avoid (this is Jacob running from that same brother to whom he was trying to attach himself).
One thing I love about God's Word is that it doesn't just address my spirituality. It addresses my psychology. In Jacob, I see an illustrated sermon about the psyche of someone who is running toward and chasing something they can never get, meanwhile running from something they don't want to face. I believe every person in our church can relate to Jacob, hiding from an Esau in your life, hiding and hoping no one sees you for who you really are. You invent methods by which to be impressive. That's what Jacob did. He makes a plan. He makes a plan to hide his issues. He gets his messengers. You have to understand, in the last 21 years, Jacob was not struggling. Jacob was prospering. Jacob was succeeding. Jacob was accumulating. Jacob was working his way up. By this time, Jacob is very rich, and he has a lot of kids. He is, on the external level, doing pretty well for himself. What he does (and I think we all do this) is he tries to use what he has accumulated to hide who he is.
Touch your neighbor. Say, "Come out of hiding. Come out of hiding. Come out of hiding". Yeah, because Jacob gets a strategy. He gets a plan. He calls his messengers. He has a lot of people working for him. He has a lot of representatives, and he calls his representatives. He says, "Here's what I want you to do. Line up the goats, line up the rams, line up the camels, line up the cows, and line up the bulls. Get some male donkeys and female donkeys. Put the servants out there". He arranges what's around him to hide what's within him. "Maybe Esau will accept me if I send him a goat. Maybe Esau will accept me if I send him a donkey". "Maybe people will like me if I make them laugh. So ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! I'm the life of the party. Ha! Ha! Ha"! When I get alone, what I had out in front of me can't help me for the battle I have to fight within me.
We all have herds we hide behind. It is those things. It is those inauthentic personality traits you project, fearing that who you are is not enough. "How could it be enough? Isaac never loved me". "How could it be enough? Nobody has asked me to marry them yet". "How could it be enough? I'm the last person invited". "How could it be enough? I sound stupid when I talk". "How could it be enough? I don't know what other people know". "How could it be enough? I wasn't raised right". Now I'm hiding behind my herds. It can be money. Some people hide behind money. It can be labels. Some people hide behind labels. It can be brands. Some people can hide behind brands. It can be language. Some of you talk in a way that is not even indigenous to your personality, and I'm listening to you trying to figure out who you're mimicking.
My mom asked me one time when she heard my band play, and she listened to the concert… We did all kinds of cover songs…Darius Rucker from Hootie & the Blowfish and Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam and Kurt Cobain from Nirvana and all of these great bands, the kind of music you just can't get anymore out there in the cold streets of today's modern society. She said, "You sounded good tonight," because I was the lead singer. She said, "I have a question. When are we going to hear you sing? Tonight I heard an imitation Hootie. I heard somebody trying to sound like Pearl Jam, but it's kind of hard to sound like Pearl Jam when you just hit puberty".
See, what I was doing was I was trying to project what I thought would impress, and you cannot be blessed while you're projecting to be impressive. You can't be really blessed that way. Jacob had a plan. He said, "I have issues with Esau, but if I send my gifts…" This is why I preached it at a pastors' conference. I told the pastors I was preaching to in California, "Your gift can only get you so far, because if you're good with a microphone, you can hide behind a microphone and suck as a husband, hide behind a microphone and be absent as a father, hide behind a microphone and inwardly not have a real connection with God and be preaching stuff God showed you 13 years ago, because you've mastered the technique".
I ministered that to the pastors, and it was really tense in the room, because anytime God peels back your persona, anytime you can't do what you do and you have to come to terms with who you are, it puts you in an awkward position, but that's the place where God blesses you the most. Not while Jacob was lining up the cattle. Not while Jacob was configuring the cows. The Bible says… I have to show it to you again. It's so beautiful. I love the way the Scripture weaves together the historical narrative and brings it into alignment with my current psychological condition to show me there is a way forward no matter what I've been through. It said Jacob thought…
Look at verse 20. "For he thought, 'I will pacify him with these gifts…'" "I will pacify my problem with my persona. I'm not going to make peace with it; I'm just going to pacify it. So I develop ways to get through, you know? I'm really sarcastic, and the reason I'm sarcastic is if I'm sarcastic, I don't have to be sincere. I hide behind sarcasm, and people think I'm cocky, but what they really don't know is what they see as overconfidence is really just a little girl scared to death because I'm hiding behind my herds". "People think I'm arrogant, but what they really don't know is the reason I'm coming across so strong is I'm scared to death they're going to find out I'm a fraud, and I don't know what I need to know".
So I'm hiding behind my herds, and this Esau, this issue… Everybody say, "Issue". It remains hidden behind my herds, and what I hide God cannot heal. I cannot make peace with what I am content to pacify, so I'm sending out my best. I'm sending out my stuff. I'm sending out all my stuff, and maybe then they'll like me. Maybe then they'll love me. Maybe if I buy them stuff. Maybe I'll sleep with him. "If I sleep with him, then maybe I can keep him. If I give him my body, maybe then he'll give me his heart".
I'm going to hide behind my herds. The only problem with this approach to life is what you get them with is what you have to keep them with. If you get them with a fake you, what are they going to do when they see the real you? Man, help me preach this sermon. It's those hidden issues. Yeah, I'm encouraged because the Bible says when Jacob sent his gift ahead he remained alone in the camp. To every lonely person today, I want to encourage you to know that the places of your greatest isolation will often become the places of your greatest revelation.
Jacob had seen God in the form of an angel when he was with people, but he only saw God's face when he was all alone, separated from his stuff. He sent his gift ahead, but he himself spent the night in the camp. God dealt with him, and God pushed him around a little bit. God brought him to his breaking point, so much so that the Bible says when he got done and he left that camp, he was limping. He was limping, but he was blessed. His hip was dislocated, but his identity was now securely in place, because he found out who he was.
God said today through the preaching of his Word, he was going to restore unto you an awareness of your identity, because you've gotten so enmeshed and entangled with your stuff and your skills that you've lost your sense of substance. But today is the day the hand of God is upon you heavy to show you who you are. Wow! He crossed the ford. Look at verse 22. He "…crossed the ford of the Jabbok". Say…what? The who now? The Jabbok. Jacob crossed the Jabbok. Let me try it like this. All his life, he thought he was fighting against Esau. For 21 years, he thought he was running from Esau, but God showed up to show him the only real enemy he was ever fighting against…
See, I've learned this. I want to digress for a minute. The real enemy is not the issue I see. Your life will change, your marriage will change, your relationships will change when you stop trying to fix Esau. Jacob crossed the Jabbok. Do you think those two sound similar on accident? Do you think there is a sense of poetic justice in the mind of God that he wants to show us that all the time you were running from Esau, all the time you were running from issues, all the time you were running from relationships, all the time you were running from fears, the only issue is you! If you can get right with you, you can get right with God. If you can get right with God, God can make it right with Esau.
Touch three people. Tell them, "Get over yourself". That's the real enemy. It's the enemy in me. It's the Jabbok I have to cross. It's my pride I have to get over. It's my regret I have to get over. It's my scars I have to get over. It's not your issue that's holding me back. It's me, God. It's me. It's me! I won't let you go until you bless me. The practical implications of this revelation are staggering. If the only thing you really have to cross over is your own misconceptions of what it means to be accepted by God, you're going to be all good. Single, you're going to be all good. Married, you're going to be all good.
Touch them again. Say, "Get over yourself. Get over yourself". That's my message today. Get over yourself, Jacob. If you can get over your conniving, scheming, dysfunctional ways, God will fix your relationships. On the other hand, if you don't get over yourself, you're going to carry your issues in to your next relationship, and your issues are only going to increase when they are multiplied by the human interaction that is required for you to connect with another person when you have not even learned to correctly connect with yourself. The issue is you.
I am not responsible for fixing Esau, because when I do battle with the enemy in me, the insecurity in me… It starts with an I, people. Issue starts with I. I'll try to get an Apple endorsement here. You need to start sending more "I messages". Not, "You need to…" and "You need to…" and "If you would just…" and "If they would just…" and "They don't want you to…" and "I don't want…" and "They don't want…" No, no, no, no, no, no, no. "I will bless the Lord at all times". "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". I am the head and not the tail. I am a child of God. I will not fear, though the darkness beset me, though the Enemy… I, I, I, I. How can I make peace with Esau if I can't even make peace with me? God is so good, because if you will devote yourself to the issues within you, he'll handle the issues around you. He'll do it.