Have you ever struggled with wanting to pursue your will and your plans and struggled to submit fully? I know I have. Even Jesus had to submit to God. Before he was crucified Jesus asked God if the task of crucifixion could pass by him but then he ended his request with, “Yet not my will, but yours be done” Luke 22:42b (NIV). This is such a powerful, yet difficult declaration that we are called to do as Christians. It’s hard to go against the thing we most want or the thing that makes the most sense in our mind to pursue something that we may not understand. I especially struggled with this when transitioning into full-time entrepreneurship. Taking that leap didn’t make sense because all I could see were my expenses, my revenue, and a big giant gap between what I needed to pay and what I earned. I couldn’t imagine a God big enough to close the gap. I doubted God and I wrestled with the idea of where God was calling me versus where I was, and I wanted to remain at my job because that was what made sense. However, I chose to trust God and to choose His will, because I trusted that His plans were better.
Last week we explored Lessons 1-4 of the 17 lessons I learned while reading “The Alchemist.” If you missed that post, I encourage you to read it because we talked about overcoming fear, listening to God, and enjoying the process of the journey. This week we will be exploring Lessons 5–11 which will focus on identifying and pursuing your purpose. If you are unsure about where God is trying to move you, but you know that He is trying to tell you to do something, then these lessons may help give you insight on where God may be leading you and what you need to do to start taking action.
As you read this post, keep a notebook and a pen nearby or an app to take notes so you can write down the lessons that most resonate with you. Once you write down those lessons, go to God in prayer and ask Him for guidance.
Lesson 5: What we think is for us might be a desire of man and not of God.
In the book, Santiago dreamed of marrying the merchant’s daughter. He was ready to settle for good when God had something great for him. In the book, it was a treasure, true love, and a life of meaning and purpose. The boy was excited about the path that he was on, but he didn’t know that while it was a good path, it was not the path that God had for him. However, just before he was about to give up his blessing and settle for what he thought was the right thing in his life, God sent an angel to put him on the right path. I share this story to say that we don’t know the full picture and we don’t know what God has in store for us. In Malachi 3:10, God challenges His believers to take Him up on His offer that He is willing and able to bless us abundantly.
In Malachi 3:10, God is specifically talking about bringing a full tithe into His storehouse, but the same principle applies to all areas of our life. God desires our faithful and obedient heart, and He blesses those who follow Him. It’s common to think of this as financial blessings, but there are so many other ways God blesses us including joy, peace, and love (Galatians 5:22-23). Therefore, we must constantly assess whether we are pursuing our own interests or God’s interest and we will know it because if it is from God it will:
- Align with the Word of God
- Align with the Spirit of God
We must be careful to explore the answers to these questions because what may look good to us, may not be aligned with what God wants for our lives. What God wants is always better, because those plans will bring us real hope and joy (Jeremiah 29:11).
Lesson 6: Be open to how God communicates.
We need to pay attention to the little things and listen to our heart to see how God is communicating with us. He speaks to us in a variety of ways – through dreams, other people, through the Bible, situations, our thoughts, and many more. Often times God doesn’t yell, but rather He speaks to us quietly (1 Kings 19:11-13). This is why it is so important to develop ears to hear Him and a heart to know His voice. This comes from reading the Word of God and seeking Him through prayer and meditation.
When we listen to our own knowledge and trust our own thoughts, we can be fooled or led down the wrong path. Our heart seeks to protect us and in the process can lead us astray. That’s why we need to tune our heart to the heart of God, tune our minds to the mind of Christ, and keep our ears open to hearing how God communicates so we can avoid being led astray (John 10:1-6).
Lesson 7: God is always working for us all of the time even if we don’t know it.
Sometimes we don’t think God sees us, our needs are too small, or that God is busy doing bigger things. However, God is concerned about all aspects of our lives – even the small things. Do not think that God doesn’t care or isn’t actively working on our behalf because He is. In “The Alchemist“, Santiago’s heart told him of the times where he was protected from danger but had no clue that happened. Ironically, it actually came in the form of a setback. In the book, he was camped out with his flock one day, and up the road were robbers who planned to ambush him. However, he got sick and fell into a deep sleep and the people who were planning to ambush him thought that he took a different route and moved on. The sickness appeared to be a setback because he lost time on his journey, but it actually saved his life. Therefore, even in the times of setbacks, we must constantly assess whether this setback was real or whether it was a set up for something greater or a form of protection.
This lesson was actually one thing that I learned when I was dealing with workplace bullying. It was an awful experience, but as I look back during that time, I realized that I had become too comfortable with my job and I was in danger of straying off the path God was putting me on. God was trying to move me, but yet in my comfort I didn’t want to move. However, as the workplace bullying continued, I became increasingly uncomfortable and that ended up being my motivation to work harder on FNPhenomenal and on my first book, “5+5 FNPhenomenal Ways To Save $100 Without Killing Your Lifestyle.” In fact, I wrote this book while I was miserable, suffering from a lot of workplace stress, but the urge to escape that reality fueled my desire to do something different. The funny thing is, I didn’t even know that I could have a purpose-based blog or even business. I had no clue what entrepreneurship could even be, but people I met during that time and events they told me about helped to open my eyes to what FNPhenomenal could be and to what I could do. I was exposed to so much that helped me along this entrepreneurship journey. Additionally, working on the 5+5 book and FNPhenomenal became my motivation because I needed to prove to myself that I was worthy instead of how I felt through the bullying. Through that period, I developed a deeper faith and love for Jesus Christ. I had no clue that God would end up blessing me immensely through the experience and that He was working on my behalf.
Lesson 8: We all have a personal dream (a purpose) and it is up to us to take action.
God creates the purpose and the plan. He speaks to us, corrects us, sends signs, and directs us, but it is up to us with our free will to comply. In the book, the alchemist shares a story with the lesson that we have a window of time and if we fail to act (usually because of fear) that once burning desire goes away and sometimes even passes to someone else. A great example of this is the story of the 3 servants with the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). Two of the three servants invested their money and made it grow, but the last servant hid his in the ground and did nothing with it because he was afraid of losing the money. The master was so upset at the last servant that he dismissed the servant as “wicked and slothful” and then gave his talents to the servant with 5 talents. The talents didn’t go away, but they were given to someone who would do something with them. The same is true of us. If we sit on the talents that God gives us, refuse to obey him, and we either complain or do nothing, then God may choose to strip us of these blessings and give them to the next generation or to someone who will use them. Regardless, God’s will and work shall be done, and we need to decide if we will be obedient and do the work that God called us to do.
In “The Alchemist“, we see it when someone Santiago encountered at the pyramids laughed at his search for treasure. He tells Santiago that he had a dream that there was treasure buried under an old church in Spain, but he wasn’t crazy enough to actually search for it. He thought Santiago was crazy to come all the way to Egypt to search for a buried treasure. At that moment, Santiago knew where his treasure was – in Spain at the old church. It turns out that the man in Egypt had an opportunity to get that same treasure, but he dismissed it as crazy, and then the opportunity went to someone else.
Think of it this way. Have you ever had an idea and never moved on it and then saw it on television, on social media, or in the store one day? Have you ever dreamed of starting a business, going back to school, or furthering your education and then an opportunity that could have been yours went to someone else? God gives us opportunities, but it is up to us whether or not we will take them. God will not force you to do something. Yes, He is long-suffering and patient, but if you refuse to act, the blessing may pass you by.
Lesson 9: Our purpose/personal legend/journey may begin easily to show us that we are on the right path, but challenges always come.
In “The Alchemist” the author refers to this as “beginner’s luck.” This is described as:
“Every search begins with beginner’s luck. And every search ends with the victor’s being severely tested.”
With beginner’s luck, things appear to be easy in the beginning so we don’t run back and quit. If the journey starts off hard then we may be tempted to turn around. A great example of this is in Exodus 13:17-18. When the Children of Israel were freed from captivity, God didn’t lead them on the most direct path to the Promised Land. Instead, He took them along a desert road towards the Red Sea. He did this because He knew that if they faced war soon after leaving Egypt then they would change their minds and go back to captivity. Going the roundabout way allowed them to avoid the conflict, and give them more confidence to keep going. This didn’t mean they avoided conflict and challenges because the Egyptian army came after them and caught up with them at the Red Sea. Seeing the Egyptian army brought terror to the Israeli people and at that moment they longed to be back in Egypt. The first sight of trial they wished they were back in slavery. I think we are similar. We get excited about something new or something that God is doing in our lives, but when challenges come we wish we were back in that old situation even if it wasn’t good. Just because things start off easy, it doesn’t mean that it will always be that way. However, when challenges come, we must know that God didn’t bring you this far for you to perish in the wilderness. He has already given you what you need to get through the challenges and opposition. Think of it this way, the challenges are meant to sharpen us and to also see if we learned the lessons of the journey. Remember, it’s not just about the destination. It is the journey that matters. Don’t fear the challenges, but instead trust God will work them out. Never quit.
Lesson 10: We already have what we need. We just need to connect to it.
Jesus Christ died on the cross, was buried and resurrected so we can have a personal relationship with God. He is with us and has given us everything that we need for a godly life (2 Peter 1:3). We just need to trust Him, ask for it (assuming that it is aligned with the Word and Will of God) and take action on the instructions that God gives us. God has already made the provision and it may be unexpected or different than we expect. That’s where faith comes in.
However, sometimes we don’t believe that we have everything we need or that we need one more thing before we can get started or finish. Don’t wait until everything is perfect or the timing is perfect (according to your perception) because you will always be waiting. One thing my mentor always says is, “Take advantage of the free before you move to the paid”. There are so many free tools at our disposal so we don’t need to wait until we have a big budget to get started. The enemy of getting started is waiting until everything is perfect because there will always be something else. We are human and it’s impossible for us to be perfect. Therefore, we need to trust that if God called us to do something, then He has already given us the provision to get it done. It might not look the way we thought it would look, but it is just what we need to get going.
Lesson 11: Failing to pursue our purpose will leave us unfulfilled and afraid to dream.
Have you ever heard someone say they knew they could succeed or win if they actually gave it their best, but yet chose not to? A number of years ago, for the first time, I said something similar. I was in a network marketing company and I was really close to achieving the car bonus. The past few months I had fallen just short of that achievement. However, in this particular month, I finally declared, “This is my month to achieve this car bonus!” I was so committed. I worked hard in but by the middle of the month, the needle wasn’t moving. I kept pushing, but it didn’t look like it was happening. Finally, with one week left to go in that sales month, I stopped trying. When the month closed, I came up short. When asked what happened, I said, “I know I could have hit the goal if I actually tried.” I stopped trying because I wanted to give myself an excuse if I didn’t hit my goal. Prior to my big declaration, I didn’t hit the goal and I was afraid of failing and feeling bad if my best wasn’t good enough. Therefore, I gave up on that goal to protect my ego. I was afraid to fail, so I thought it was better to not try.
This failure to pursue goals and purpose may not just be the fear of failure. It could also be due to comfort. In “The Alchemist“, the crystal shop owner and the baker opened their shops so they could save money to live out their dreams. However, instead they got comfortable with the money that they made and they delayed pursuing their dreams. Eventually, the burning desire that they had to pursue their dreams went away and with it went their desire to accomplish their destiny. In fact, the thought of their destiny even brought feelings of sadness and fear. One character even wondered, if his dream was better off being unfulfilled, because what if he achieved and he has nothing else to live for? With it just being a dream, he could never be disappointed and he always has something to work towards. Therefore, as the years went by and the excuses piled up, what was supposed to be a stepping-stone ended up becoming a barrier to true fulfillment. Be careful of the plans you make that say you need to do x, y, and z steps before you move. It may appear logical or fiscally responsible, but it may also take you off the path God intends for you. Always ask if the plan is in alignment with God’s will. Submit to Him and He already made the path straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).
This week we discussed Lessons 5-11 that were revealed to me when I read “The Alchemist.” I encourage you to take these lessons and then meditate on how to apply them or grow them in your own life. Don’t try everything at once, but rather pick one thing you want to start working on immediately. My hope is that these lessons will help you develop a deeper relationship with God and begin to identify and work on the areas where God is trying to grow you. Check out Part 3 next week where I will share the final segment in this 3-part series of what I learned from reading “The Alchemist.”
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Aisha Taylor is a single mom of twins, personal financial coach, work from home entrepreneur, and #1 Amazon Best Selling Author of the book “5+5 FNPhenomenal Ways to Save $100 This Week Without Killing Your Lifestyle.” Aisha has been featured in ESSENCE, Jet Magazine, and Black Enterprise. She is also the Founder of FNPhenomenal (Frugal –n- Phenomenal), a movement designed to help single moms create a vision for their lives, craft a financial strategy to support that vision, and show them that phenomenal living is possible. It’s time for you to be Financially Phenomenal!