There’s a song from a modern day prophet that goes a little something like this: “Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake. I shake it off, I shake it off.”
I’m pretty sure T-swift was quoting the Bible. And I’m pretty sure those words are more relevant to us than we realize.
There’s a story in Acts 18:1-6 about a dude named Paul. You may have heard of him. It says that every Sabbath, Paul was in the synagogues preaching to the Jews and Greeks. He spent ALL his time preaching the Word. And of course, the Jewish peeps oppose and insult him. In response, it says that Paul shook the dust from his clothes. In Matthew 10:14, Jesus sends his disciples out to minister and he tells them, “If anyone does not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet.”
Shake off the dust.
I love the picture this paints. The implication is that when we live a life of obedience – a life of saying yes to God – there will be difficult moments. That’s pretty much a fact. If you haven’t faced hard things, that means one of two things. Either you’re extremely blessed, or quite possibly you’re playing it too safe. When we begin to say yes to God, there will inevitably be disappointments, failure, rejection, opposition, discouragement, you name it. In other words, there will be dust and we have to learn how to shake it off.
The issue is that there are far too many of us who just leave the dust there. Whether it’s dust from people or dust you’ve put on yourself from the decisions you’ve made, we carry this stuff around, don’t we? We can spend our whole lives carrying all of our failures and disappointments, not realizing that by doing so we will never fully live in the present and experience all God has for us in the future.
I don’t know about you, but I want all of what God has for me. So how do we shake this stuff off?
Know who you are and whose you are.
We often live at the mercy of people. When people insult us, oppose us, or simply disagree with us, we place those words on a throne. We have a tendency to live with the fear of man. So how do you battle the fear of man? You fear God more. And fearing God is this: Knowing who God is and who you are in light of that. When the only voice you care about is your Father’s voice, you are better equipped to move beyond the things people do or say.
Understanding that God is as much in the process as He is in the result.
Huh? How is this relevant? Perhaps the dust that affects us the most is the dust we throw on ourselves. What I mean is that we often use our failures and negative outcomes as a lens for our present experiences and future expectations. But when we learn to see God the whole way through, we begin to take less stock in how things will end up or how people will respond. We hear and experience God every step of the way. Regardless of the outcome, you still have the only thing that matters: God.
Let me just say that shaking the dust is not an excuse to push things down or compartmentalize things. This stuff is real. Difficult things are…difficult. Duh. In fact, it’s probably because we like to stuff our emotions that things linger and stick around. Sometimes the only way for us to actual let things go is to actually deal with it. Be real and be honest with the people around you and with God. Process it. Face it. You cannot have authority over things you refuse to face. Oh yeah. About that. I should mention that we aren’t just supposed to shake off the dust. We’re actually supposed to take authority over this stuff too. And that starts when you begin to live honestly.
So what are the things you need to shake off? What are the things you’ve been carrying?
What I’ve learned is that sometimes it’s not about what you can get from God, but what you can get rid of. And just like there are things we are asked to carry, there are things that we were never meant to carry. It’s time to experience all of what God has for you. It’s time to shake off the dust.
About the Author