Last week I spoke on how God uses the storms, darkness and seasons of waiting to launch miracles and blessings. After God blessed me with another confirmation of my blessings (through the scripture 1 Samuel 12:16), I happily trotted along my path for a few days. But then my impatience flared up once again, and worse, because of the length of my wait at this point, it was even mixed with a tinge of doubt (I know! I know! Even after all His confirmations). This time it was: “Were we really on the same page about my blessings?” If so, when would I receive them? So one day I asked God just that, and His response was, “Prepare for your blessings.”
Now, let me describe the tone of this response...
As a child, can you recall asking your mother or father over and over about something- or as a parent, recall having your child sound exactly like a broken record? And after hearing the question asked so many times your parent gives you a directive? Maybe it was:
“I said we would be there in 10 minutes. I’m not going to repeat myself again, so sit back and be quiet!” (Can you guess what question that kid had asked???? 😊)
Or maybe it was:
“What did I just say?” (Head nod) “Uh huh, now do as you’re told!”
The tone was never mean or threatening, but firm. Well, this was the tone I heard from God. I guess I had become like a broken record to Him and His response was swift and firm, with no room to negotiate. There was no room for:
“But God, when you said that, did you mean…?”
“Well, what about we do this instead...?”
Nope! God had shut down any opportunities for me to go back and forth with Him!
So, I focused on His response: “Prepare for your blessings.” And I wondered, “Well, how do I do that?”
Throughout this week, I faced some struggles and landed on the first major concept I needed in order to prepare for those blessings. Because of the enormity and importance of this concept, I decided to divide this blog entry into two parts, with the first part dedicated entirely to this concept and the second part detailing the others.
So what’s the most important step?
Alright, Part I is all about… (drum roll)…
I know I’ve spoken on this previously, but I have to go back to it because of this week. Like I mentioned a few sentences back, this week had its challenges, as well as its strengths. In fact, literally right before I sat down to write this entry, God blessed with wisdom about a particular struggle I had faced earlier this week. I want to repeat- this LITERALLY happened- as in JUST. NOW.
Not to digress, but talk about an on-time God. More to come on His timing later, but for now, let me provide some context:
A while back I was required to attend an 8-week membership orientation in order to join my church. During one of the classes, my instructor spoke on our new relationship in Christ and how it would relate to the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). She mentioned that it was common for newly converted or “baby” Christians to experience or feel God’s presence quickly. Like a baby needing parental guidance and care, God would oftentimes manifest Himself (through presence or quickly answered prayers) in order to strengthen our walk of faith. As we grew, we would encounter more of Jesus, whose role was compared to that of a “big brother.” (Picture being a pre-teen or teenager who ran to your “big brother” for help against bullies.) As we continued in our walk of faith, we would eventually encounter the Holy Spirit who served as a guide and provided wisdom. From the instructor’s explanation, the Holy Spirit was a sign of maturity and like an adult able to handle responsibility and quiet duty, we would need that maturity in order to seek out the Holy Spirit’s soft, but prominent presence to assist us as our walk grew more challenging.
Sounds exciting to reach the level of the Holy Spirit, right? Well let me tell you, I was shocked and surprised after I realized I had come to this stage in maturity. And to be frank, I wasn’t all too happy. You see, I was spoiled- so used to having God show up and show out quickly…so used to Jesus coming to save the day and protect me. Previously I would pray and He would immediately answer. But I found this wasn’t the case now, especially in my season of waiting.
Now let’s roll back that beautiful footage of this week:
Because I was thankful of what God has done and would do for me, I continued to seek out His Will and what would please Him. I even prayed for God to strengthen my faith in Him; I wanted the kind of faith that would please Him:
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
~ Hebrews 11:6
Because I wanted to be His vessel, I also made the decision to live a life completely dependent on Him. The request, I knew, was big, because essentially, I declared I no longer wanted to make decisions that simply pleased me- I wanted to please Him and accept the path He wanted me on. That required a deeper level of trust. So, I even changed how I prayed- I no longer asked God to allow my day to run smoothly, but instead asked for His will to be done for me throughout that day, allowing whatever obstacles He felt necessary to occur. I only asked that He remembered His promise: that He would provide me with the necessary tools I would need in order to make it through each day:
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, most gladly, I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9
And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:19
As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.
~ 2 Peter 1:3
This prayer was new territory for me because I was allowing myself to face the discomfort of relying completely on someone else- not only that, but I would rely on a Spirit (which I could not see) to assist me. And so, I continued to accept my season of waiting along with my desire to depend solely on Him. I was expectant, but still excited. Of course those fickle feelings changed once I faced this week’s struggle: how to respond when I no longer felt His Presence through the Holy Spirit.
During my last entry, I shared about my battles against the schemes of the enemy due to my obedience to God. Well, the devil hadn’t stopped this week and so I continued to ask the Holy Spirit to guide and provide me with wisdom in order to face the events throughout each day. Well, at one point, I was surprised when it seemed the Holy Spirit didn’t answer. In fact, I spent one day almost entirely in prayer and meditation because it seemed as if the devil was having a party inside my mind. I experienced a rush of negative thoughts filled with doubt, criticism, and uncertainty that I could not battle.
And so I pleaded with the Holy Spirit to help me; I called on Jesus, and then sought out my Father. But I only heard silence…
By the end of the day I was exhausted and confused because the devil still progressed. I didn’t want to believe the lies and fall victim to the attacks; I wanted to remain obedient. That night while in bed, I cried out to God to make the attacks stop.
He responded immediately and not even a mere second later, the attacks stopped.
At that point though, I experienced a myriad of emotions because I had specifically prayed to be entirely dependent on Him. That day had been rough and I honestly felt God had let me down. I was confused- why had it taken Him all day before He had answered? I was hurt- weren’t my pleas earlier that day enough? And I was angry- didn’t He see my heart and knew I was desperate to please Him? That I wanted to remain obedient?
The next day I reflected over the previous day’s happenings:
“Had I committed any sin that blocked God from answering?”
“Did I offend Him in anyway?”
I pondered over these questions and came to no conclusion. Still, I decided to press on and continue through my confusion. I refused to let the struggles from that day deter me.
Okay, let me take a short detour for a moment and talk about the mechanisms behind my blog. For this particular blog, my entries are written weekly to detail things that occur throughout each week. I like to post my entries early Sunday morning. Now, it’s been that on the following Monday, I get ideas about the next blog and simply jot them down. As the day passes, I pray for guidance and God typically lets me know the idea He wants me to focus on. Over the next few days, while He provides a general direction for me, it’s not uncommon for God to actually provide the words and scripture until the end of week, typically right as I’m about to draft my entry.
I already knew the general direction God wanted me to go after the idea of this blog entry came to mind, but I didn’t have the words because He had yet to reveal them. Now, remember when I said earlier that He literally gave me wisdom about the struggle I had faced this week right as I started writing this entry? Let’s go back to that because this is where everything ties in.
Sure enough, God didn’t give me the words for this entry until I sat down to write it. And now, LITERALLY, as I write this- I understand why. His words for this blog entry are the same words He has blessed me with as an explanation to this week’s struggles.
You see, although I don’t receive the words to my blog until the end of the week- again, sometimes I don’t get them until I sit down to write- I don’t panic because I just know He will deliver. I’m certain He will answer in His way and in His timing, which is always perfect.
And so, the wisdom in all of this- from my struggles this week, to when He responded to my attacks, and to when He delivered the words to my blog- goes back to the one prayer request I had made…
God had only been answering my prayer to strengthen my faith in Him.
In this week alone, God instantly worked to bring me answers and clarity on multiple levels to my prayer. He also worked according to His Will for me. He used this week’s struggles to not only strengthen my faith in Him, but to strengthen my patience (which goes back to His Will and what He has asked of me during this time).
Ironically, yet brilliantly- He used His timing to do so.
First, God provided me with an example of what trusting in Him- with all struggles- looked like. Just like I had faith that He would provide the words for my blog in the “nick of time,” God literally- just now- reminded me that I also must have faith that He will help me face whatever obstacles come my way, but also in the “nick of time.”
You know how a baby sometimes “fake” cries to get his/her parents’ attention? The parents are always around, always nearby, but let the baby cry because to their discerning ears, the parents recognize the baby is actually fine; there is no real danger present. Well, I realized I had been that baby this week. At one point, I had become extremely uncomfortable and wanted the comfort of my parent; I had wanted the comfort of my Father. And my heavenly Father- who invented discernment, mind you- seeing no real danger, permitted me to cry.
Although the devil had attacked- I had been in no real danger!
However, I was the one- I had been that baby- who falsely perceived danger when there was none. And yet, like any good parent, God did come to soothe my cries. But He waited because He wanted me grow. He was teaching me how to strengthen myself; He was teaching me how to strengthen my walk of faith… He was simply answering my prayer.
Also like a good parent, my Father reminded me that He had been, and would always be, present. He reminded me that His promise still held true: He would never leave me, nor forsake me:
“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD, your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
~ Deuteronomy 31:6
In end, I learned that I exercise true faith when I know God is present although I may not be able to feel Him or sense His Holy Spirit. I show true faith when, although I feel blind and severely uncomfortable, I continue to press through the discomfort, trusting He is always near and available. While God always shows up whenever I truly need Him, I must mature if I’m to do what He has called me to do. Like a baby who is first given milk before he can take on solid food (1 Corinthians 3:2), I must mature in my walk of faith in order to maintain my blessings and be a good steward of them.