Popularity has more slain prophets of God than persecution ever did. –Vance Havner, preacher and author
When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals.”1 Kings 18:17-18 (ESV)
Debi and I live in a pet-friendly neighborhood where cats and dogs abound. Directly adjacent to our property, on the other side of a large fence, live Harley, Rex, and Cody. Now getting up in years, Cody, a Black Lab, is mostly quiet. Harley, a German Shepherd, and Rex, a mutt, are another story. When Harley and Rex spy me out working in my garden or cooking on the grill, they go crazy—Rex baying with his loud, deep bark and Harley with his sharp, explosive voice of displeasure.
The problem for Harley and Rex is that, in spite of their territorial objections to my presence, I am on my own property for which I can produce a deed of ownership. Neither Harley nor Rex could do the same—not that they would care a dog’s treat about legal ownership of property. From their territorial, tunnel-vision dog-perspective, what they see is what they own.
You Aren’t Fitting In?
Have you ever felt like you don’t belong? That you just don’t fit in? Do you hear unfriendly voices loudly barking that you aren’t welcome? If you seek to walk with God, being out of sync with this world’s system is unavoidable.
It’s all too easy to center our focus on how we don’t fit, magnifying each agonizing detail by which we think we fall short. Such a sense of not belonging can produce a wilderness experience within itself. Striving to make oneself fit, however, may only make matters worse. In the end, we can isolate ourselves from God—a sacrifice far too costly for a few grains of human (or neighborhood dog) approval.
Fitting In Versus Belonging
I tend to see a subtle and yet powerful difference between fitting in and belonging. Just because I don’t fit in with Cody, Harley, and Rex doesn’t mean that I don’t belong in my own yard. Indeed, in spite of their loud objections, I have a legal right to mow my yard, tend my garden, or cook my venison steaks. It’s my yard. I belong there.
As a general rule, there will always be voices that attempt to banish us into a wilderness of isolation. Sometimes those voices proceed from those around us—classmates, coworkers, unfriendly neighbors, etc. There are, however, other times when the call for our banishment comes from within our own minds—those nagging, internal voices telling us that we don’t belong.
Regardless of the source of the voice, this issue must first and foremost be settled between us and God. These internal struggles ultimately come not from the rejection of others, but from our own uncertainty of our identity in the eyes of God.
When we begin to plumb the depths of our covenant relationship with the King of Glory—the Ruler of the Universe—those other voices matter little and the issue of fitting in becomes secondary. If you feel the need to belong, let it first be fulfilled through your perspective of God’s perspective of you.
God’s Children Belong
Those who have entered fully into the New Covenant with Christ can know with confidence that they belong, that they have been called, that they have been chosen, that they have been accepted, that they have been appointed to courageously serve God’s purposes and proclaim His name to their generation (2 Thessalonians 2:13-15).
And what if Harley and Rex begin to bark? Simply wave, wish them a good day, and be about your Father’s business. You may not fit in, but as a covenant child of heaven’s King, you belong!
This post is drawn from Chapter Forty-Four of Bob’s devotional: Champions in the Wilderness—Fifty-Two Devotions to Guide and Strengthen Emerging Overcomers