How does Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world under autocratic rule for thirty years, “all of a sudden” turn the tide on the tyranny they have faced for so long? In a similar manner to how we must face strongholds in our own lives.

At a spiritual boot camp I attended recently with four hundred other men, we were challenged to deal with our wounds, live more passionately and courageously, and grow closer to God. In order to reach that point though, we had to confront the question, “What agreements have you accepted for yourself and made with the enemy?”

This “agreement,” as explained to us, is something we have received as truth, taken ownership of and controls our everyday lives—and not in a good way. What many of us discovered was, we may have accepted a misguided comment or thought and allowed it to shape who we have become, and stands in the way of who we should be.

Maybe you have been told a long time ago, “You’ll never amount to anything,” “You’ll always be overweight,” or “You’ll never get married” and have believed it to this day. Maybe it even came from a well-meaning parent, a close friend, or a caring teacher; nevertheless it has turned into a standard by which you live.

Perhaps you’ve wanted to try something new, and you heard, “You won’t be able to do it.” “You’ll get hurt.” “You’re too old.” Maybe the agreement you bought into was, “Why bother, ‘it’ will never change” (i.e. trying to better a relationship, a job or a lifestyle).

Even though some of those comments may have been intended to “protect” or “guide” you in some way, many came from those who have made their own agreements and, consciously or unconsciously, are standing in the way of you reaching your calling.

Inspired by the launch of the Russian rocket Sputnik in 1957, and chronicled in the movie October Sky,Homer Hickam’s dream was to “go into space.” He was told by his father, a perennial coal miner, to “put all this nonsense (of building rockets) behind you (and work in the mines).” While struggling with his father’s wishes, Homer’s teacher, Miss Riley, told him, “Sometimes you can’t listen to what anyone else says; you just got to listen inside.” 

We are often prone to receiving an abundance of advice, as singles, from those who have “been there” before and some of us have taken their discouraging words and allowed them to become truth in our lives. As believers of Jesus, we need to be listening to the voice of God through the Holy Spirit for our direction, more than anyone else’s. 

We can find encouragement from and gain insight through some of those in his Word who have been in comparable situations.

Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt ... O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue … O Lord, please send someone else to do it" (Exodus 3:11Exodus 4:10Exodus 4:13).

God personally instructed Moses to go to Pharaoh, yet he still argued with God about his abilities. At some point along the way, Moses must have accepted the notion he couldn’t speak nor lead and tried to convince the One who gave him those gifts.

Many of us may have had similar conversations with God or with ourselves when we were faced with a challenging situation. Maybe we have resigned ourselves into thinking, “I can’t do it,” “It’s not for me,” “How in the world could I….?” Instead of listening to someone else, believing the enemy or doubting ourselves, perhaps we should put more trust in God.