Steven Furtick - You Haven't Met Your Best Self Yet
God sent me out here to say to somebody: you have to get through this dark part of your life, this season, this stage of adulthood. Maybe just because I have two teenagers, I was thinking about teens who commit suicide. It started to haunt me. They have no idea that high school is weird for everybody. It doesn't feel like this forever. It's not always… I mean, there are still challenges, and people are still people, and life is still hard. But it's not always this surge of hormones and weirdness and stuff breaking out on your face everywhere and just stuff in your mind. No, no, no. It won't always be this dark. You have to live, whoever you are. You have to live to see it. "I will remain confident in this: that I will see…" I have light. "I will see the goodness of the Lord".
Goodness. It's going to get good and gooder and gooder and better and better. You haven't seen anything yet. You haven't even met your best self yet. You have to get through this valley. Oh yeah. I have to get through this valley. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me". Question: Is a rod and a staff a good thing or a bad thing? It depends on whether you're a wolf or a sheep. When I belong to God, everything he does in my life… It might not feel good, but it is good because he's still good. "Yea, though I walk through the valley…"
I have to get through this valley so I can make it to the table. "You prepare a table…" Make it to the table! I'm going to make it to the table. I'm going to make it! I have to make it. I was born to make it. My kids need me to make it. My wife needs me to make it. My church needs me to make it. You have to make it. It's necessary that you make it. You have to get to the good part. You have to locate Israel inside of you, Jacob. Sit up, Israel. Be a man. Be a woman. Be the one God called. Stand up and do it. You have to make it to the table. To make it to the table, I have to go through the shadow. Every good thing has a dark part. James said something I thought we should think about. He said, "Don't be deceived, brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows".
Do you see it again, the contrast? Every good thing has a dark part. What concerns me is I see a lot of people who never get to the good part of their marriage, of their gift, their skill. There are no guitar players out here right now, but I guarantee you if we could ask them… Before you first start learning how to play, there's a point where your fingers hurt so badly. When I was starting to learn to play guitar, my fingers would hurt so badly. The two men who were teaching me guitar both said, "You have to build up the calluses". Every time I would go to practice, it would hurt so badly. Most people quit before they get the callus. If you keep playing long enough, eventually your fingers will be able…
Wade, remember before the calluses? If you don't play for a little while now, it doesn't change. If you don't play for a while, you have to start over again. Most people quit before they get there. Whether it's teenagers who end their life or, let's be honest, not even end their life but just sabotage themselves because they don't want to sit with the loneliness… You just want to tell them, "No, no, no. Don't give that away. That's too important. No, no, no. Don't do that. Get to the good part". Joseph, don't throw your brothers out. That's how God is going to build a nation. Get to the good part. I know you want to go off and freak out and tell them. That's just your reaction. That's not the reality. The real you knows better.
So, James says, "Don't be deceived. Every good gift comes from above". A few things I take from that. First, if it's good it came from God. So, if God blesses me through somebody or through something, it came from him. I got a bunch of birthday gifts a few days ago. Thanks to everybody who sent me a gift. Hey, the greatest gift is prayer. I used to always hear preachers say that. They'd say, "Thank you for all you who give to the church," and all this stuff, and then, "But most importantly, your prayers". I'm like, "Prayers aren't more important than the giving. We have to feed people. We have to help people. We have to build the kingdom. Thank you for all of it. It's all important". False dichotomy. The gifts.
Do you see this jacket I'm wearing? Wade gave me this. The funny thing was when I saw his handwriting on the envelope… He has given me so many gifts through the years. I said, "That one is from Wade. It's going to be good". I hadn't even unwrapped the gift. I knew who gave it. When I shook the box, I knew it was something I could wear. I said, "I got my preaching clothes for next week," because it came from Wade. Wade knows what I like to wear. He knows black is slimming, flattering to my body type. It came from Wade. I'm good this week. I've got something to wear this week because it came from Wade. If it comes from God, it's going to be good. So, if it's good it comes from God, even if God does it through somebody else.
I didn't hug the postman for delivering Wade's gift. That's kind of deep. Right? We get dependent on people. We think people have to be good to us for God to be good to us. No, they don't. Question: Who got Jesus to the cross? Which disciple? John, the one he loved, or Judas, the one who betrayed him? Now you're seeing the theme of my message. Get to the good part. The part that feels good isn't always the part that is good. You only know that when you reflect on it. I was thinking, "If it's good, it came from God. If it came from God, it's good". What if it didn't? It's going to be good anyway. That's where you can preach Romans 8:28. In all things God works for the good.
I always heard that verse… They read that much, and then it was confusing to people. "All things work together for the good…" They didn't even get to the good part of the verse. They stopped on the word good. The good part is what it says next. "…to those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose". Real quick, Davide. Earlier I saw you out here. You've had two tools that I've seen since you came out, not counting your notebook. You had this and you had this. When we talk about what God calls good, we have to understand something about God. God doesn't call something good based on how it made you feel while it was happening. God doesn't call something good based on how much you expected it and how much it matched your preference. God calls it good when it serves its purpose.
Davide, you were singing on this; you were sitting on this. I have a feeling if you tried to sing on this, it wouldn't work. It's a good stool, but you can't sing into it. It's a good mic, but you can't sit on it. Quit thinking you're not good because you can't do what wasn't even in your function or your purpose to do. When God made man on the sixth day, he said, "It's very good. It's really good. It's in my image. It's according to my likeness". It's good. "Why are you saying that"? Somebody told me the other day, "I had a good workout". I said, "How was it good"? He said, "I was throwing up after". I said, "Huh"? He said, "I know it worked". Joseph said, "Am I in the place of God"? No, you're not in the place of God. But he had the same thought process as God. He knew the darkness doesn't have to go away for the light to be effective.
So, when they ask, "How are you doing"? and you say, "I'm good," you're not lying. You're just focusing. Sometimes, before you can get to the good part in your life, you have to get to the good part in your mind. So, then you start saying things like LB Skinner at our first church service where there was rain and the attendance suffered and I was depressed. I said, "It rained. Almost nobody came". He was smiling. I said, "What are you smiling about? It was rainy and nobody came". He said, "Oh, but, Pastor, it gave our greeter teams a chance to shine". See, he had had these custom Elevation umbrellas made, and he was waiting for a chance to use them. He saw the rain and he said, "It's good". I saw the rain and said, "O God". He saw the rain and said, "It's good".
I wonder, are you waiting for it to get good in your life and God is waiting for you to get good in your mind? For everybody who's struggling with comparison and envy, what are you good at? The darkness doesn't want you to see that. You only see without form and void. God said, "Let there be light". I'm just asking God over our congregation, "Shine the light on the good part this week". Turn your flashlight on your phone right now and start shining it around. When the people who are sitting in your apartment start asking you, "What in the world are you doing"? say, "I'm looking for the good part. I need some light. I need the Word of God. I need worship. I need the presence of God".
That is why my consumption becomes important and why every week I say something to you about your phone, your social media, your 24/7 news cycle. People will say, "I have to be informed". It is good to be informed, but if you have to dig through that much garbage to get something good, is it really good? We're confused like Adam and Eve. They weren't in trouble because they ate an apple. The Bible says they ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and they thought they were like God. "I know what's good". We always get in trouble when we try to do God's job. God said it was good.
Joseph is such a great picture all the way across 49 chapters of Genesis. He echoes back what God said when he spoke the world into existence. "It's good". I don't even really want to show you this from Joseph's life. I want to show you one thing that Jesus said before I let you go. This is where the real power is. Remember, Joseph said it was good. That's what he said when he was looking back, and that's powerful. That really takes a mature perspective to say, "Oh man. I guess this is what God… I probably could have gotten there an easier way, but I guess this is what God… Okay. Lord, I accept it".
Let me tell you something Jesus did. He's getting ready to leave his disciples. They're sad. They are what he calls grieving. Grieving doesn't just have to be over a death. You can grieve an opportunity. You can grieve a schedule that was lost, a predictability. You could grieve a lot of things. Jesus is dealing with grieving disciples who are going to miss his physical presence. I guess if we're going to tie it into Genesis… Jesus is the Light of the World, so they're losing their light. He was what they walked by. He's the only way. His presence, his words, his actions, his example, his encouragement… They're going to lose that.
Have you lost something lately? Have you lost your light? Here's what he says. Absolutely amazing how God's Word works in concert with each other. Way after Joseph said, "It was good now that I look back on it," Jesus was saying this. John, chapter 16: "…but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, 'Where are you going?'" Jesus knew where he was going. They didn't know where they were going. He's trying to convince them of something they're not so sure of. Here's what he says: "Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things". He's going to the cross. This is the assurance he gives us.
Verse 7: "…it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate [the Holy Spirit] will not come to you…" Here's the upgrade. "I was with you. Now my Spirit will be in you, but first I have to go". That's the dark part. The good part is "You're going to have the Spirit. He's going to convince… Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). We're not there yet. We haven't gotten to the good part yet. This is the dark part". He knows what they're about to go through, and he also knows what they are going to get to. So, he is giving them something so that while you go through this painful moment, this first season, this second season, these winter months, this dark part, this hard part of your day, this hard part of your life, this hard part of your marriage, your ministry…
If you don't go through the dark part, you won't get to the good part. "Unless I go away…" Yeah, it's going to feel different. It's going to be confusing. You're not going to know. This is where people give up on God. They start reading the Bible, and they read it like a fortune cookie. The first thing that makes them confused, they say, "God is not real. This stuff doesn't work. I don't really believe it. I prayed and it didn't happen". But you didn't get to the good part where you find out that it is not in the answers that God becomes real. It is in wrestling with the questions that you find out there is a kingdom within you. That's the good part.
Thank God for all of the good things around me, but it's what he does in me. That's the good part. You will never get to that if you keep changing what's around you. You never get to the good part because you won't go through the dark part. Take a pill; get out of the dark part. Blow up the relationship… Many people never get to intimacy in relationships. I'm going to tell you why: because they won't push through the insecurity. To get to real intimacy, you have to go through insecurity. I have to be willing to let you see me.
If we're going to have… One guy said "into-me-see," intimacy. That's scary. I don't want you to see into me. So, we never get to intimacy because we won't work through the insecurity of saying, "Yeah, I am flawed". Even in our relationship with God… Jacob spent his whole life pretending to be somebody else, but God said, "No, I want to get to the good part, the true part, the real part". Many people never get to their destiny because they won't work through the disappointment, never get to the wisdom because they won't work through the bitterness. To get to the good part, you have to go through the dark part.