Saturday, August 1, 2009

Hiding in the Paths & Doorways

We started the conversation as dinner was being prepared. The young couple was giving us a glimpse into their hearts. They were on a journey that had taken them out of a church in town. Once outside the doors, they became aware of it’s trappings. Religious activity had covered their lives.

You could see the pain in their eyes as they spoke. Instead of showing them the path to the Father’s love they had become encumbered with commitments they were expected to fulfill. It happens to the best of us. It’s one of the downfalls of religious Christianity.

Many enter into places they have no business being because the need is great, the call is strong. They think it’s what God expects of them. Yet that’s the farthest thing from the truth.

I know this place all too well. I was once there. I wanted to work for God. I thought it was what was expected of me. Before you knew it I was sucked in, offering myself everywhere I could. It does feel good after all to be needed, wanted and valued. I rarely stopped to look before walking through an “open door”.

It was 9:00 AM on July 9th when I got the phone call. I knew something bad had happened. My daughter was crying so hard she could barely talk. “Mom I think I just got bit by a poisonous snake.” “It has a diamond shaped head.”

I tried to stay calm as I rushed to get my clothes on. Maybe she was wrong. Did she really know snakes that well?

A conversation with her father confirmed it. She had been bitten by a baby copperhead as she walked through the doorway into work. It had been hidden between the threshold and the door. She never thought to look to see what was in her path. If she had, she would have never stepped through that door.

I’ve walked through many doors in my church experience never stopping to look for traps. Everyone is needed, I was told. Being capable, I did things because I could. I moved from place to place in ministry and I was good at it. I was needed, wanted, appreciated.

I’ve since discovered something. The serpent lay hidden in many of the doorways I walked through. He deceived me into thinking that the Father expected that from me. He wanted me to find value in what I can do instead of who I was. It kept me from living loved.

Things became twisted in my understanding. I didn’t know the true heart of my Father. The enemy convinced me that this walk with God is about what I could do for God. When in fact it’s about what God wants to do in and through me.

I became busy in activities I had no business being in. My heart was far from my offering. I relished the recognition. I thought it pleased the Father.

It was then Jesus came for me. It was then I heard His call.

“Be still and know me, Jewel.” I accepted His invitation and discovered something. As I became still, my work ceased. The work became His. He began to live through me.

Jesus saw the religious trappings of old. He sees the ones of new. Walking the path with God is understanding what it’s really all about. Christ the hope of glory is our very life. He lives in us waiting to live out of us. It’s not our efforts. It’s His.

Stillness frees us from religious activity. For in stillness you learn not to move until He moves in you. Requirements and expectations no longer have a place. You find the Father’s heart which loves you as you are and invites you to where He is.

Today my husband was walking through a customer’s yard when he looked down and saw something out of the ordinary. A closer examination showed not only one, but two adult copperheads hiding on the path. They are now dead.

The serpent lurks about with his religious trappings. They are hidden in doorways of activity. They are hidden in paths of good intentions. Many will walk straight into them. They will miss the heart of the Father. For His heart calls out. "Be still dear one and know ME."

©copyrighted 2009 Julie L. Todd


christy rose said... Reply to comment

I love this. Inside of the paths and doorways of our churches lies the traps of the devil to bind us and keep us from experiencing the life with God that He desires us to live. The traps prevent us from entering into the place of sweet fellowship and love that God longs to share with us. If we get trapped in the workings of ministry to catapult us into a higher place with God then we will miss the truly higher place of complete and total acceptance right where we are at all times. There is no feeling of acceptance that is not unconditional acceptance.
I thought what you wrote about your husband at the end was the most insightful to your story. Because it seemed to me that it was not the yard that was the wrong place to be, it was the danger within the yard. But he saw it. He saw the trap. And he destroyed it. It is not the areas of ministry that keep us from the heart of God, it is the trap of misconceptions, thinking that God will bless us more or be more proud of us if we work more for Him. When we recognize the trap and step into the place of ministry with God, then ministry becomes an outflow of our relationship with God instead of a assuming it is a doorway to it.
It is so sad that religious Christianity makes us to believe that we have to work for God to make Him pleased with us. When the true Gospel reveals to us that He is pleased with us when we accept His Son and that is it! Living in that loved position will empower us to glorify Him in all that we do, in character, in behavior, and in working for Him.
I have once been that couple at the beginning of your story. Now as I serve Him in many different aspects, the joy and excitement that it brings me have no weight to them. It is pure! It is fun!
Thanks for sharing this today. I pray it ministers to everyone who reads it and sets them free.

Amy said... Reply to comment


You have captured the essence of TRUE Christianity in the words you have written here!

Religion is a set of rules and expectations...Christianity is knowing the heart of Christ then following where He leads us.

So glad to have you as my sister in Christ!


Mary said... Reply to comment

That is an awesome word! Amen and Amen! Sometimes our working "for" God gets in the way of our being "with" God. Sad. I've fallen prey to it in my past as well. There's something about being busy that makes us feel "needed" and "important." But all God wants us to do is move when He says move and rest in Him. Hard lesson to learn - lots of deprogramming has to happen.

I thought of the scripture in Genesis when Cain kills Abel. The Lord said, "Cain, sin is crouching at your door. It desires to have you. BUT YOU CAN MASTER IT."

Take care.

Crown of Beauty said... Reply to comment

Dear friend,
I have missed you and your posts, so reading what you have just written is such a welcome thing to me.

How you connected the story of hidden snake in the path of your daughter, and of your husband, to the religious activity that entraps us in our search for God drives home reality.

Yes, the snakes of deception are couching at the door... they desire to master us, but they won't be able to, if we are on the lookout.

Staying close to the heart of the Father in intimacy is the way to steer clear of deception. You are so right, we can fall right into the traps of false religion. Before we know it we are drinking from the wrong wells, and eating from the wrong trees.

How I love this post, Julie. What happened to your daughter after she was bitten by the copperheard? I'm sure she has recovered by now.

Maybe one day you can write a post about how you were rescued, the way of escape that God provided.

Lindsey @ A New Life said... Reply to comment

I am pretty speechless right now...very much struggling with letting go of the trappings of serving where I am "expected" to and following what God wants me to do instead. And I am about to enter a time of solitude that I am terrified (don't like to feel disconnected) of but also slowing feeling excited about. I let a lot of things, commitments, people, and their opinions get in the way of my joy in worship and obeying God, and God is giving me a perfect season of time to sit with Him and seek His will for me.

Beautiful post, and I love the analogy about the serpents in the doorways. It will do me well to remember that!


Daveda said... Reply to comment

Wonderful...I love this post and the truth that you share in it. The Lord has been opening my eyes to many things in "ministry" that i have never seen so clearly before. I feel like I am beginning a new season in this journey. One that is not consumed with the expectations of others. I thought this was something that God had already freed me from. But I found that as I slowly stepped back into "church" it wasn't long before the consumption of the system had me in bondage again. However, this time I saw it fairly early and was able to backtrack into the arms of my Father. I look forward to the journey ahead!

Crown of Beauty said... Reply to comment

Thanks for visiting my blog. I have missed your visits. Sent you an email just now in reply to your question.

Karen said... Reply to comment

"They are hidden in paths of good intentions."

Been there, been there, and done that, done that...why is this lesson so hard to learn sometimes?

This is a GREAT post. I just KNEW after you posted on FB about your daughter, you would be inspired to teach a wonderful lesson out of the situation...I just didn't know how great your message would be!

Crown of Beauty said... Reply to comment

Hi, please visit my august 2 post. I have a blog award for you to pick up.


Katie said... Reply to comment

I really loved this post, Jules. It is such a timely and important reminder, and somehow, the visuals just really struck me. They're so accurate.

Gretchen said... Reply to comment

Julie, I wish I had something intelligent to say. God spoke again through you. Thank you for allowing His messages to be shared in your blog. hugs, friend.

Saija said... Reply to comment

good post ...
i hear truth in your words ...

thank you for stopping by ... and blessings on your week!

Searching for God in the everyday said... Reply to comment

God is so good. His faithfulness never ceases to amaze me. To give what we need when we need it. I am the one who gets caught up in the "doing". In the last year I have neglected to see the snake as I have walked through countless doors. Unfortunately my family have been the ones who have suffered in my desire to serve. My kids have been dragged along instead of included. God has spoken to me to "be still" and your message drives that home. I have stepped back for this season to "regroup" and listen. Thank you for your words. Inspiring and challenging. And thanks for stopping by so I could find you!
Cory =)

Tea With Tiffany said... Reply to comment


I knew God would use the dark experience for HIS glory. Your words are healing, truth and love.

Praising Him for your gifts and your willingness to be still and listen.

Love you

David C Brown said... Reply to comment

"And it came to pass as they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus himself drawing nigh went with them." It's the Lord Jesus Himself that we need!

Faith Imagined said... Reply to comment

This is some wonderful writing! I can't wait to read your next devo over at internet cafe! I am off to follow you my friend!

Rebecca said... Reply to comment

Jewelz, thanks for sharing that insight... a couple of years back Holy Spirit started revealing to me that I was trying to earn His love and being afraid that God was not pleased with me if I didn't do every thing exactly or religiously as I thought that I should like go to church everytime the door opens, pray for however long or way someone who taught said that they did etc. Your blog was really refreshing and comments from others were too. love

Anonymous said... Reply to comment

I am so grateful that God led me to you today. So deeply grateful.

Trinity Mommy said... Reply to comment

Amen, Amen, Amen!

Anonymous said... Reply to comment

I have struggled with the pressure to serve ever since I became a Christian. I loved the recognition I received and I felt like I was doing something for Him. After all, He did so much for me right? How wrong I was!!

I have not served for the last 3 years at church as I struggled with Hashimoto's Disease and PND. The other reason was because I believed God told me to serve in my home and now He has called me to homeschooling.

I still feel pressure from the church to serve and I get the impression that my homeschooling is seen as getting in the way of me serving!!

Thank you for this post. xoxo