Stand Firm. That’s become my mantra this year. It started around springtime when I was reading my bible and came across these words highlighted in blue. It said: “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” Julianne, stand firm. God continues to tell me this. Okay, I say. I’m doing it. I’m standing firm. By the way, what do you mean? Stand firm? Stand Firm.

Okay, I will. I am. Standing Firm.

I’ve come to realize that I need the Holy Spirit to help me to stand firm, which is good because guess what? That’s who was sent to us after Jesus left the earth to go be with God, the Father. We don’t talk a whole lot about the Holy Spirit, but he is available to you and me.

Did you know you can ask the Holy Spirit to pray on behalf of you, if you don’t have the words?

I’ve also come to realize that ‘standing firm in the faith’ means getting on my knees a whole lot more than I’m used to and asking for help because I cannot do this life on my own. I want to follow God’s path for my life, but my humanness gets in the way. Sometimes I want to go my own way.

Many times, I have to ask for God to shape me, to bend me toward his ways, to get me out of my own way. He has been teaching me about humility and yet, I still struggle with pride. It’s deeply ingrained in us as humans. Another thing that is deeply ingrained in me is this thing called people-pleasing.

I’m starting to believe it is actually a sin to try to please others. I struggle with that, pleasing others. The more I learn about Jesus, the more I realize he didn’t carry the fear of rejection as I have. He didn’t worry about what others thought about him. He cared way too much about building God’s kingdom than about people’s opinions of him.

Oh to be like Jesus.

Recently, I read this short story out of the book of Matthew in chapter 16 verses 21-24. The subheading says: Jesus Predicts His Death. Jesus knew he would have to die in order to build God’s kingdom. He began to prepare the disciples that he must be killed, but that he would be raised to life.

This upset Peter (one of Jesus’ disciples) and he rebuked Jesus “Never, Lord!” “Never would this happen to you!” But Jesus told him otherwise, and then some. He said to Peter, “Get behind me Satan!”

He pretty much told one of his closest friends he was of the devil. If my friend wanted to protect me from death, I might not refer to him as my enemy. But I think I understand what is happening here. And shoot, no, I didn’t look at any bible commentaries. Here’s the thing:

Jesus knew it was his calling, to die! For mankind to have a relationship with God the Father, sacrifice was just a part of it. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for you and for me. Jesus was following the will of the Father and knew he needed to follow through with it and he did, but I imagine the human part of him struggled with the thought of it.

Just like the serpent said in the Garden of Eden to Eve, “You will not surely die,” Peter was saying this same thing to Jesus. Eve had the opportunity to say, “Get behind me Satan!” as did Adam, and they did not, but Jesus was not afraid to say it.

Although Peter is far from being the serpent in the garden, he had the things of man in mind, just as Adam and Eve did when they were faced with the choice to follow God or not. When God calls me to something difficult and I want to follow through, I cannot concern myself with the plans of others. Jesus says to Peter, “You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

I often pray that I will not allow my human thinking to be a stumbling block to God’s calling on my life. I hope this post encourages you to forget about pleasing others, but only God.

He is with you. Stand firm, my friend.