A few folks I’m walking with in life and in coaching have alluded to one particular issue lately as they think about their new creative and spiritual projects. This is what I hear them say.
“How will I know if God is in it?”
“What if God isn’t in it?”
“I know this will only work if God is in it.”
“What if I pour everything into this, and find out God wasn’t in it?”
“The last thing I tried failed, so that tells me God mustn’t have been in it.”
So … what does it mean when “God is in it”? And how do you know when “God is in” something? How do we choose things God “is in”, and avoid things God “isn’t in”? How can we tell the difference?
Here’s the criteria people seem to use to tell if God’s “in” something they want to do.
It helps other people in a tangible or significant way.
It’s not morally objectionable.
It promises to be successful financially.
People from the church (especially the pastors or leaders) approve of, support and/or promote it.
It catches on and people generally love it.
It’s not hard for you to do it, and you never get discouraged, challenged, blocked, rejected or criticized when doing it.
You never get tired of it and can do it effortlessly, and you just want to keep doing it forever.
I’ve heard people tell me the reason they believe God “wasn’t in” something they were doing is because the things listed above DIDN’T happen.
So, it didn’t really help other people that much – it was just a thing they liked, or perhaps even loved, to do for themselves.
They made little or no money.
Their church didn’t understand what they were doing, and failed to support or promote them.
People generally didn’t notice or appreciate what they were doing, and even seemed disinterested.
It was hard work and was frequently challenging, or they were criticized and critiqued, rejected or ignored.
Inspiration didn’t just keep on coming, and after the initial flush they had to push pretty hard to keep being creative and innovative.
Even when they completed what they were doing or creating, the outcome was nothing like what they expected.
In other words, it was hard work.
Basically, these ones believe if God “is in it”, it is always easy and fun, financial success is inevitable, everyone will notice and like it and nobody will criticise or reject it. Inspiration will come effortlessly, all the time, and all their dreams will come true.
Conversely, I have been assured by some if a project is easy and makes money, if people like it and you get lots of support and approval, “God isn’t in it”, because if it were really “of God”, it would be rough, uncomfortable and fruitless – supposedly because what God really wants is for us to be humble, content, and lay all our dreams on the altar.
By this logic, if it’s meant to happen, God will just make it happen, and you won’t have to do anything.
I’ve met quite a few honest, sincere God-believers who laid down their talents and dreams years ago and decided to do nothing about them. They believe if it’s really “of God”, it will just happen, and their doing nothing about it is a sign of their willingness to submit to God about it. While they are disappointed their dreams are still laying there on the altar – wonderful, vibrant, interesting and beautiful ideas, all promising to take them on an incredible, challenging, heartbreaking, exhilarating journey of discovery, learning and creativity – these ones would rather do nothing at all than ever dare begin something “God isn’t in.”
This, to me, is heartbreaking. And, I suspect, a form of self-sabotage. You can’t fail if you never try.
All these beliefs about what God is and isn’t in really have nothing to do with God. Whoever taught us God is “in” certain projects and not in others has told us an untruth.
Because God isn’t in our projects at all.
God isn’t really in anything we do. God doesn’t want to inhabit some dangerously creative, madly unpredictable idea, business or project. That’s way too ephemeral. God’s taking the best, most secure bet there is. He’s investing in a sure thing, something guaranteed to reap the kind of dividends He’s interested in. No, God isn’t in your doing. He’s in your being.
God is in you.
And if you’re doing what you’re doing from your whole, authentic being, then whatever you’re doing, God is in it.
You won’t be able to tell if God’s “in” something by looking at success, failure, approval, rejection, profit, loss, popularity or anonymity. Because all those things have nothing to do with you, your talent, your creativity, your spirit, your wisdom, creativity or capacity. And that’s where God is. He’s in those things.
Success, failure, approval, rejection, profit, loss, popularity or anonymity have only to do with others and their projections and perceptions about your project. And that’s none of your business. It certainly isn’t Gods.
He’s in the “you” business. He’s in – and interested in – you.
If your project promises to make you grow and become the best you there is, He’s in it. Whole, sole and sneakers.
Nope – whatever others think or do or say or spend or like, it hasn’t got anything to do with God being “in” your project.
What matters is whether YOU are in your project.
And are you? Are you really in it? Do you love this thing you’re doing with your whole heart? If your whole heart is in it, God is in it.
It may help millions, or the joy it brings may be yours alone. It may make millions of dollars. It may cost you all you have. It may be easy or challenging, people may appreciate it or they may never understand it. But if you are in it – and you know it’s truly, authentically, you, all the way through, then darling, God is absolutely in it.
Don’t give up, don’t give in. You know what you were made to do. Tell your story. Make the decision. Step across the line. Give your whole heart.
Because GOD IS IN IT.
Love, Jo xxxby