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Get Out of the Box: Follow God’s Will

Are you feeling stuck in a box, unable to break free and follow God's will for your life?


Many believers find themselves confined by societal expectations, family pressures, comfort zones, and fear of the unknown. But God is calling you to step out in faith and embrace the adventure He has in store for you.


In this blog post, we'll explore the reasons why we often stay in our boxes and how we can break free to live a life of purpose and fulfillment.


Get ready to be inspired and challenged to take bold steps towards God's incredible plan for you!


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You Can’t Stay in the Box


Many believers in Christ Jesus are living in boxes, sort of speak. They are not allowing their lives to flow with the Spirit of God for the plans and purposes that God has for them. For whatever reason, they are staying within the limitations of their minds, circumstances, and situations, what they can and cannot do according to their developed belief system. They don’t allow themselves to venture out very far; if they do, they immediately reel themselves back in.


They say you can tie a rope to a baby elephant’s leg and stake it to the ground. After many years, the elephant will be conditioned to be confined to that space. In time, you can remove the rope around its leg, and it will never move on its own because its mind is conditioned to stay there.


We, as believers in the Lord, can’t afford to be like this. We have to allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us wherever God wants to take us, no matter how scary it can be. We have to let go of what we are holding onto ever so tightly and let God take us by the hand. We have to trust him completely.


lady in a box

What Puts Us in Boxes and Not Follow God's Will?


As already stated, there are various reasons why we get into boxes. We all need to identify why we are in boxes. Even though I am ministering to others in this blog post, I am not immune. I have to watch this in my own life. I can catch myself crawling into a box as well. Sometimes, it’s easier to curl up and lay in the box than deal with life as it confronts your decisions to follow God’s plan and purpose.


Societal Expectations


Romans 12:2 (NLT) — 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Society expects us to live a certain way. When you tell your friends that you are giving up everything to follow God’s will for your life, they look at you like you are crazy. They can’t see it for themselves, so why would they be able to see it for you? It may be so difficult to understand that they can’t even support your decision, but instead, they try to discourage you from moving forward.


Society says that we must graduate from High School. We have to have our career choices made upon graduation. After walking across the stage, we have to go into debt to a four-year college for a choice of a career that we may not have been ready to make. In our early 20’s, we have to find a spouse and, soon after, have our children. After punching the clock for 40-plus years, we are to retire. Then, just maybe, they will accept that you may want to do something adventurous for the Lord only if you have the proper amount of money saved for retirement.


Family Traditions or Pressures


Galatians 5:7 (NLT) — 7 You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth?

When I entered the military of my choice, my father was incredibly proud of me. I remember him coming to my basic training graduation. He was a proud as a peacock with his chest all puffed out. I even have photos of us back at the hotel. You can see the glow all over his face.


I had a phone call with him during my Army training. He began to share with me some choices he felt I should make to have a successful career in the military. One of them was that I should break my relationship with, at the time, my girlfriend, Nancy. He had no ill towards her, but he felt she was a distraction. Praise God that I didn’t listen to him; 37 years later, she is still my fantastic wife.


Family will always have their own opinions, especially from those who don’t know God. They don’t know what it means to live by faith. They are trapped in the boxes of life. Many have followed the exact steps that others have laid out for them. They feel they have a voice in your life and that you should listen to them.


As much as I loved my father and respected his wishes, I knew in my heart that I was a man and had to make my own choices. Even though, at that time, I didn’t know God. I knew I was not about to walk away from the love of my life.


Our Comfort Zones


guy in a hammock

Luke 9:23 (NLT) — 23 Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.

For most people, it is easier to live life in comfort. All their decisions are based upon what brings comfort. Believers use this as their life compass as well. Many people have come up to me and said that they can’t understand how I gave up everything to go to the mission field. They saw my comfortable life before and now. They know that I am lacking in areas of comfort for the sake of the Gospel.


Comfort is a massive deception that can lead us down the wrong road in life. The Lord didn’t promise us a comfortable life. I think comfort is an enemy ploy to get our eyes off of God’s plan and purpose for our lives.


We can be comfortable while dying inside because we know that we are not fulfilling what the Lord laid out for us. Surprisingly, when we follow God’s will for our lives, we may not always have all the creature comforts of life, but we will walk in peace and joy like never before. To me, comfort is merely a vapor; it can all disappear tomorrow, but the peace and joy from God stand as strong pillars in our lives.


Don’t Rock the Boat


Acts 5:29 (LEB) — 29 But Peter and the apostles answered and said, “It is necessary to obey God rather than men!

Rocking the boat can mean so many things in different areas. But one would be to not rock the boat in your marriage by suggesting that you both need to go in a direction in life to follow God’s plan. You may be fearful of your spouse's response or opposition. It’s easier to leave well enough alone. Then you can pass the buck to God and say you need to deal with them where you are unwilling to bring it up with them.


By doing so, you prioritize the other individual over God and His desire for whatever plans He has for you or the both of you. Trying to maintain harmony is a good thing, but at what cost, and is it worth it in whatever particular situation you are in? By not being bold, you are robbing God, yourself, and maybe even the other individual.


I can say that I made it known to my wife that I wanted to go to the mission field by serving in Honduras. In time, Honduras became a dirty word in our home. It only produced fights. Nothing good came from it. Praise God, I sought the Lord on a consistent basis to learn how to deal with my wife’s hardened heart. I wasn’t willing to allow her pressures to keep God from moving in our lives.


Then, in 2013, God gave me a window of opportunity to walk through to where I could be firm in my position but loving towards my wife. I sat her down to discuss our lives in the mission field. Because of not succumbing to the fear of rocking the boat, we entered the mission field as full-time missionaries eight months later to follow God’s will for our lives.


At the time of writing this, we have been serving in Central America for the past 10 years. Not only has God used me mightily, but He has used my wife in extraordinary ways. We both have been blessed because I rocked the boat.


Shawn Paul

Just Go with the Flow


You would think that “Don’t Rock the Boat” and “Just Go with the Flow” are the same thing, but they are not in this case. “Don’t Rock the Boat” is the attitude in which someone knows that something needs to be done. You know where you want to go, but for whatever reason, you are not willing to do so because it may cause unwanted responses from others that you don’t want to deal with.


Just go with the flow, which is with someone who is not necessarily motivated to go in any particular direction. You will go wherever the water takes you while you are sunbathing and sipping on lemonade. You have no purpose or drive to go any specific way. You may even be totally oblivious to the need to follow God’s plan in your life.


I know people who feel that it is easier for them to stay in their box of life. They don’t care if storms of life are raging around them or even in their own lives. Instead, They would go with the flow rather than make any effort or decisions for their lives. It’s easier to follow the particular trend or direction of the flow.


Fear of the Unknown


2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT) — 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Fear is as old as time. Fear has prevented so many from moving forward in the things of God. People believe in their hearts that potentially bad things could happen, or they are fearful that they don’t know what will happen, whether good or bad.


The Bible tells us to walk by faith, not by sight. We must put our full faith and trust in God. We can’t afford to allow the unknowns to dictate our lives. If we do, we will never do anything for God, only things that are safe and easy to do. No one who has done anything significant for the Kingdom of God had the stay-safe mentality. They pushed themselves out into the open, potentially exposing themselves.


When I say exposing themselves, I am not talking about making dumb, irresponsible, erratic decisions. I believe God is a god of order. I think He wants us to count the cost while following Him by faith.


When I entered the mission field full-time, I knew he was calling us to do so, which required faith on our part. We only had $300 a month in donations promised to us. I didn’t wait for every penny needed each month to be accounted for. I got on the plane for Honduras, believing the support was there. Also, knowing I had a savings account to rely on (that God helped me build) while believing in God’s provision. Within 2 months, we had all the monthly partners we needed, and in 10 years, we have never looked back.


box

Steps to Get Out of Your Box


1. Be Determined to Fulfill God’s Will


Philippians 3:14 (NLT) — 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

We have to develop a sense of determination inside ourselves that God’s plan is a must in our lives. There are no plan B’s. The Bible doesn’t give us a pass. There are no scriptures that say, “Oh, it’s fine if you don’t want to follow the Lord’s plan.”


Some reading this now may say, “Shawn, I am not ready to buy the ticket and jump on the train to God’s Plan Land. I have so many hesitations.” That is fine, and I understand that you may not be ready. It takes time. My wife wasn’t prepared for the mission adventure, but in time, she said yes. The key is to allow yourself to go there in your heart. Don’t build walls and barriers. Have some serious heart-to-heart talks with the Lord. Tell Him of your hesitations. As you do, and you allow the Lord to lead you, you will find yourself saying, “God, I’m ready; send me! Let’s GO!”


2. Be a Living Sacrifice


Romans 12:1 (NLT) — 1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

We all have to jump on the altar of sacrifice when serving God. The world presents plenty of opportunities for us to take a detour that doesn’t require much sacrifice. But, I think, as a believer, demands will always be placed upon our lives.


These demands will require us to make decisions that will be uncomfortable. We will have to give up things for the Kingdom of God. Some will have to walk away from careers. Others will have to separate from loved ones. Maybe it’s money you will have to depart with. Also, it could be a combination of many. For myself, I walked away from a house, family, career, money, my home church, and more. Was it all worth it, you may be asking? Yup! Every bit of it, and I would do it again.


person in victory

3. Don’t Allow Anything to Hinder You


1 Corinthians 9:24 (NLT) — 24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!

After building determination and sacrificing yourself upon the altars of God, you will be in a better position to not allow anything to hinder you! You will find yourself saying no to shiny things distracting you and saying yes to God.


The devil is good at trying to get you to take the bait. Like fishing, what worked yesterday at the fishing hole may not work today. It’s all about casting out what will catch the fish’s attention that day. The devil will keep throwing different things out to see what will work to distract you at that given moment in your life.


The enemy is not dumb. He knows who you are. He may not know what you are thinking, but he knows what buttons to push. Over the years, in my spiritual walk, he has tried to get me distracted from God’s call on my life. At times, he has gotten me off course. Other times, I knew what he was up to, I didn’t bite, and I stayed the course.


The Word of God tells us to keep our minds fixed and focus on the high calling of Jesus Christ.


4. Get His Plan By the Holy Spirit


Galatians 5:25 (NLT) — 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

This is not a one-shot deal. You are not going to go to your prayer closet with your pen and paper and ask the Holy Spirit to give you a complete step-by-step plan. As much as I would like that, it is like a slow dripping process. If you got the plan from steps A to Z in one setting, what would you need God for in the future?


Getting the plan from the Holy Spirit requires a lifestyle of prayer and communication with the Lord. It’s about being intentional in your relationship with God. It’s not about what you can get from Him but how you can give yourself to Him.


As we continuously seek His face, He will begin to reveal His plan through the Holy Spirit. As we take steps of faith in obedience, He will reveal more and more to us.


The Bible tells us that as we draw near to Him, He will draw to us. It also says that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. I promise that as you prioritize God, you will begin to see yourself being led by the Holy Spirit who lives inside you.


faith

5. Start Taking Steps of Faith


2 Corinthians 5:7 (NLT) — 7 For we live by believing and not by seeing.

Now that you are getting God’s plan and have a heart of determination, it’s time to put up or shut up! Faith without works is dead. We all have a relative or friend who says all the great things they are going to do and never do. As they tell you, you are thinking, how often have I heard this one before? Don’t be that person. Don’t be all talk and no action.


Stepping out in faith requires action and obedience. God isn’t looking for talkers; He is looking for the doers. It’s like when Joshua was leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. They had to cross the river Jordan during the flood stage. They didn’t cower in fear. God commanded the Levitical priest to first step into the river with the Ark of the Covenant. As they did, the river split wide open. The water was cut off upstream, and the river stood up like a wall. The Israelites cross over to the other side on dry ground.


As we trust God and take the required steps of faith in obedience, all the while following God, we will walk over on dry ground.


6. Don’t Do it Alone


Hebrews 10:25 (NLT) — 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

As believers in Christ, we must be, and I stress this, connected to a community of believers. That is the church! Jesus established the church. We are referred to as the Body of Christ. You can’t be a part of the Body of Christ on the couch at home or in a fishing boat on Sunday mornings. Being in the Army of God requires us to report for duty.


As we embrace God’s system, which includes the local house of God, we will find ourselves walking out of His plans for our lives. The Bible says that Jesus gave gifts to the church: Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers. Ephesians 4:12 says, “Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” We get equipped in our local house of God to do OUR WORK IN CHRIST!


Also, Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them a reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.” I know this may be a hard pill to swallow and trust me, I have come across many that don’t live this scripture out in their lives. They would much rather be lone rangers and plow their own roads. Sadly, most of these types of people go nowhere with God.


The leaders and people God surrounds us with are there for our aid, guidance, and support. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have sought guidance and counsel from the men and women of God in my life. Just recently, my pastor visited my house in Guatemala. He spent two hours sharing with me and giving me advice about my ministry. I walked away from that meeting feeling refreshed and renewed spiritually. Through the Holy Spirit, he gave me a spiritual tune-up.


Some may be asking why you can’t just do this yourself. Maybe I could have, but sometimes, it’s hard to look outside and back within. There are those times when you need someone with spiritual wisdom and insight to look into your world from the outside and share with you what they see. Also, everything he said was a confirmation to me. I already knew, but I just needed to hear it from the man of God the Lord placed in my life.


church

Bringing it All Together


Breaking free from the boxes that confine us is essential to living out God's purpose for our lives. By cultivating a heart of determination, offering ourselves as living sacrifices, and refusing to let anything hinder us, we can begin to embrace the incredible plans God has in store. As we seek His guidance through the Holy Spirit and take bold steps of faith, we will witness His power and provision in ways we never imagined.


Remember, you don't have to walk this journey alone. Surround yourself with a supportive community of believers of the local church who will encourage, equip, and guide you along the way. Lean into the wisdom and counsel of spiritual leaders who can offer fresh perspectives and confirmation of God's leading.


As you break free from the limitations of your comfort zone and the expectations of others, you will discover a life of adventure, purpose, and deep fulfillment. God's plans for you are far greater than anything you could dream up on your own. Trust Him, take that first step, and watch as He unfolds a beautiful story through your obedience and faith. Your life will never be the same when you embrace the freedom and joy of living in God's will.


Devotional Questions


  1. Reflect on your own life. What are some of the boxes or limitations you have placed on yourself that may be preventing you from fully embracing God's plan? How can you begin to break free from these self-imposed boundaries?

  2. The blog post mentions the importance of being a living sacrifice. What areas of your life do you need to surrender to God? What steps can you take to prioritize His will above your own desires and comfort?

  3. Fear of the unknown can be a significant obstacle in our faith journey. How has fear held you back from taking steps of faith in the past? What promises from God's Word can you cling to when facing uncertainty?

  4. I emphasize the importance of community and spiritual leadership in our lives. How can you cultivate deeper relationships within your local church? What steps can you take to seek guidance and wisdom from trusted spiritual mentors?


Scriptures of Fulfilling God's Plan for Your Life


Jeremiah 29:11

Proverbs 3:5-6

Ephesians 2:10

Psalm 138:8

Romans 8:28

Philippians 1:6

2 Timothy 1:9

Psalm 57:2

Isaiah 58:11


Frequently Asked Questions


How do I maintain my commitment to God's plan when facing struggles?


In times of struggle, it is crucial to hold fast to the promises laid out in the Bible. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6). The challenges we face are opportunities for growth and refinement, reminding us of our constant need for God's guidance and strength.


As we navigate through difficult seasons, it is essential to remain rooted in prayer and meditation on God's word. The power of prayer cannot be understated, for it is through communication with God that we find comfort, peace, and direction. The Apostle Paul reminds us in Philippians 4:6-7 to not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


Furthermore, surrounding yourself with a supportive community of fellow believers can provide encouragement and accountability in staying committed to God's plan. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 reminds us that two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Together, we can uplift and carry one another through the challenges we face.


What does it look like to trust God's provision in difficult times?


In times of hardship, our faith is truly tested. We may feel anxious about our future and uncertain about how we will make it through. Yet, we are reminded in Matthew 6:26, "Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" Trusting God's provision means letting go of our worries and fears, knowing that He will provide for us just as He does for the birds of the air.


It is easy to fall into the trap of relying on our own strength and resources during difficult times. However, in Proverbs 3:5-6, we are instructed to "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." Trusting God's provision means surrendering control and placing our faith in His wisdom and guidance, even when we cannot see the way forward.


Trusting God's provision does not mean that we will never face challenges or trials. In fact, James 1:2-4 reminds us, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." Trusting God's provision means seeing trials as opportunities for growth and refinement, knowing that we will be shaped into who He wants us to be.


How do I prevent fear from holding me back from fulfilling God's plan?


Are you allowing fear to hinder you from walking in the fullness of God's plan for your life? Look to the Word of God for guidance on how to overcome this obstacle. In 2 Timothy 1:7, it states that "For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control."


Fear is not from God but is a tool used by the enemy to keep us from stepping into our calling. When we trust in the Lord and lean on His strength, we can push past the fears that try to hold us back. Psalm 56:3 reminds us to "When I am afraid, I put my trust in you."

Don't let fear dictate your decisions or prevent you from fulfilling the purpose God has for you.


Instead, turn to God in prayer and seek His guidance to help you overcome fear. Remember the words of Isaiah 41:10, "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."


Trust in the Lord's promises and lean on His strength to combat the fear that tries to hinder you. With faith in God's plan and a reliance on His power, you can overcome fear and walk boldly in the path He has set before you.

 

Shawn Paul

Shawn Paul is an author and missionary who has been living and working in Central America for the past 10 years. He is passionate about living for Jesus Christ and inspiring others to do the same, which is the focus of his blog, where he shares his expertise in Christianity.


In addition to his missionary work, Shawn enjoys reading books, studying God's Word, growing plants and flowers, feeding birds, and keeping up with the latest technology.


As a writer, Shawn's unique perspective and passion for his faith shine through in his work. Shawn's goal for the future is to impact people around the world for Jesus through his writing and missionary work.

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