The morning of 28th December 2011 felt like any other. I was enjoying a few days off work between Christmas and New Year, and had savoured a longer lie in bed that morning. However, on rising, I was shocked to discover an unusual lump in my left breast. Understandably, it shook me a little, but I was determined not to worry about it until I had had it checked out. I immediately called the doctor’s surgery and was disappointed to learn I would have to wait eight weeks for an appointment.
As a flurry of thoughts entered my mind, I picked up my Bible. The scripture for that day determined by my reading plan was Deuteronomy 30:11-20, entitled ‘Choose Life’. As I read, I was particularly encouraged by verse 19, and claimed it as a promise over my life; “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live.”
In that moment, faced with uncertainty and worry, I prayed to God and claimed life in my circumstances. I refused to let the thought of what could be, steal my peace.
At the end of February I attended the appointment at my doctor’s surgery and was referred to the breast clinic at the hospital for further tests. A week or two later, while I still awaited an appointment at the clinic, still carrying in my mind questions and concern, I sat in the weekly prayer meeting at church. The focus that evening was on healing and I slowly raised my hand to receive prayer. For the weeks since I had first felt the lump, I had regularly and intentionally declared Deuteronomy 30:19 over myself and repeatedly claimed life. And as I sat in the basement room in church with a small group of people huddled around me, praying for healing in my body, I claimed life once again.
As they prayed, I began to feel an unusual sensation around the lump; it was tingly, and felt like hot, molten lava was bubbling away under my skin; as if the lump was melting away. I was desperate to feel it to check, but thought it best to wait until I was somewhere a little more private to do so! As soon as the prayer meeting was over, I darted to the bathroom and found that the lump felt considerably smaller.
A couple of weeks later, I experienced the same sensation during a church service and, by the time I attended my clinic appointment, the lump had gone. The doctors performed a series of tests and scans and found nothing.
When unexpected circumstances interrupt our lives, we rarely have control over the issues we face, but we do have control over how we choose to respond to them. When I felt that lump, I could have instantly jumped to conclusions of what could be; I could have spent those weeks full of worry and anxiety, imagining the worst. But how would that have helped? Instead, I didn’t allow my circumstances to defeat me, I ran to the God who heals, who provides, who comforts, and who strengthens.
Everyone faces hard seasons in life but our attitude dictates what happens next. The way we choose to respond to those challenges determines whether we live in peace or in fear.
How often do you get frustrated because things don’t go the way you planned? Or inconveniences discourage you and cause you to question whether or not God really does have everything under control? How do you feel when a situation appears to get worse, not better?
It may be possible to keep up a demeanour of confidence and trust when everything in life is dandy, but in the face of challenge or disappointment, what we truly believe about God will come bursting out, exposing our raw faith. The unmasking will be painful, and most likely reveal weakness and vulnerability, but by uncovering the very bedrock of our beliefs God finds a foundation upon which He can begin to build. This is essential work, for the size of our dreams, of our purpose, of our destiny is determined by our understanding of the size of our God.
Mountain-top experiences are great, aren’t they? For this is often where God reveals Himself to us and encourages us, or speaks promises over us. I’m sure we all love a mountain-top experience. But there is just one problem: nothing grows on the mountain-top.
Following a mountain-top experience, God leads us down into the valley to be readied for whatever He revealed to us on the mountain. It is only in the valley, after all, that things grow. It is here that our character is shaped and our faith is stretched, and God uses the harder things in life to prepare us for what is still ahead. In these times of difficulty, we are reminded of our desperate need for God and it encourages us to run back into His arms.
It can be so easy to let indifference creep back into our walk with God while we live in (and enjoy) a season on the mountain-top. But God has something to say to us in every season and we must choose to consistently surrender to Him, no matter what we are facing.
Time and time again I have been encouraged by passages in the Bible that reveal God’s hand in the detail of our lives, even through difficult seasons and uncertainty. Take Gideon, for example.
Gideon was a man who lived his life in fear. We first meet him in Judges 6; the son of Joash was busy beating wheat in the wine press and hiding from the Midianites when God paid him a visit.
“The Lord is with you, O brave man,” God said to Gideon. Brave? Really? This was a man who beat wheat in a wine press for fear of what the Midianites would do to him; he obeyed God’s commands under the protection of darkness, afraid of what his own family and friends would think; he repeatedly asked for signs of confirmation from God, just to be sure of what God had asked him to do. But what I love here is that God spoke life and strength over this man who was yet timid and afraid. You see, when God speaks over us and declares who we are and who He created us to be, we have no reason to be afraid.
Then Gideon begins to ask the questions we have all thought at one time or another:
“If the Lord is with me, why has this happened to me?”
“God, why haven’t You come through for me yet?”
“Lord, show me a sign you are really with me.”
“Go in this strength of yours…” was God’s response. Um, what strength? Gideon does not appear to be demonstrating much strength here! God had called Gideon to save His people, the Israelites, from the oppression of Midian, but Gideon faced this challenge with much fear and uncertainty. Yet throughout Judges chapters 6 and 7, God graciously encourages Gideon and takes Him through the plan one step at a time. Gideon may not appear to us to be up to the task, but he was God’s chosen man. God had created Gideon and knew him intricately and, despite his sensitive disposition, Gideon was the right man for the job because God had said he was. Period.
Gideon’s fear did not disqualify him for the very purpose he was created for. The Spirit of the Lord was with him (Judges 6:34) and empowered him to do what God had asked him to do. Gideon may have been afraid but he didn’t run or try to hide from what God had asked him to do. He remained at God’s side.
Then Gideon asks for confirmation; a sign (well, two signs actually) that would prove that God had really meant what He had said, and Gideon could reassure himself that it was not just some foolish idea in his head. Yet God was gracious again, responding to both of Gideon’s requests.
Only then, after God had encouraged Gideon, strengthened him as a leader and built up his faith, did God begin to align him for the purpose he was created for. Gideon’s fear became the catalyst that turned him from wimp to winner, from coward to conquerer. God spent time preparing Gideon and waited until he was ready before leading him into his adventure. The same is true of us; the incredible blessing and purpose that God has for us up ahead is too great for us as we are now. We must persevere through the challenges and press ahead, allowing God to prepare us and lead us into all that He wants to give us in the future.
At that time, Gideon had a huge army at his disposal but God knew that if the entire army entered into the battle, they would claim the victory for themselves and not have the ability to see God’s hand in it. Therefore, God began to whittle down the crowd…
Using a series of seemingly insignificant details, God began to instruct Gideon to send men home. Those who were afraid were the first to go. A detail as small as how they chose to drink their water was also used to sift out who would stay and who would leave. In a matter of hours, the army was streamlined from 32,000, all the way down to just 300 men.
God reassured Gideon and strengthened him one more time by leading him secretly into the enemy’s camp. There, Gideon overheard chatter amongst the Midianites that God had already revealed the impending victory to some of them in a dream.
Only then was Gideon ready to do what God had called him to do; what he had been created and purposed for. Now Gideon would lead the Israelites to victory.
At Gideon’s word, the 300 men surrounded the enemy camp, blew their horns, smashed pots and shouted victory to the Lord. On hearing the sudden, tremendous noise, the Midianites panicked and God caused them to turn on one another in the confusion, killing many. Some fled, but Gideon and his men pursued them, despite their exhaustion (Judges 8:4), and eventually subdued the Midianite army, bringing peace to the land once again.
Gideon was no perfect specimen – none of God’s chosen instruments ever are – but Gideon’s testimony reminds us that God can use us despite our fear and lead us safely through trials and difficult seasons, as long as we are willing to take steps to obey Him. God is gracious and patient with us. He will reassure us, strengthen us, and help us overcome our fears. The more we obey God and see His provision, the more fearless we will become.
Sometimes God will whittle us down and temporarily weaken us (permitting illness, redundancy, financial crisis, isolation) so that His victory can be all the more greater. But we must not panic in these moments, thinking God has abandoned us. His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) and He works all things for His glory, not ours.
Gideon surrendered to God’s way, though it perhaps seemed ludicrous at the time, and God won him the fight. Despite feeling ill-equipped for the challenge set before him, Gideon faithfully responded in obedience to all that God had called him to and God provided everything that he needed.
When we surrender to God and allow Him to work in our lives, past our fears, doubts and inabilities, He will act. Our difficulties pose no challenge to God; we can trust His capability, His willingness, and His timing. If God calls us to act, then we should obey and trust God to outwork what He chooses. Our responsibility is only to obey, God is responsible for the outcome of our obedience to Him.
Gideon and his army lifted their voices to God and the battle was won. We, too, are victorious when we lift our voices in prayer and praise instead of being overwhelmed by the circumstances around us. God is mighty to save, whatever the situation. When we charge headlong into challenge with faith and determination, we pave the way for a miracle. When nothing is certain, anything is possible.
Growing up, I loved to hear stories of men and women of God in all walks of life and every corner of the earth who had witnessed great miracles. Their stories of adventure and wonder inspired me to live an abandoned life of faith because I wanted to experience God’s power for myself. I, also, wanted to have stories to tell of miraculous provision, overwhelming coincidences that were anything but coincidental, and God-ordained last-minute, in-the-nick-of-time intervention from Heaven.
But what we often fail to acknowledge is that, in order to have a great testimony, we must first be greatly tested. We hear these incredible stories only once they have ended happily-ever-after. We find that we want a miracle but resent the circumstances that require one. So how do we deal with tests when we are in the midst of them, not knowing yet how they will end?
Well, we remind ourselves of who God is. God cannot lie, therefore we can trust what He says about Himself in the Bible. He is all-knowing (Isaiah 40:28), all-powerful (Matthew 19:26), and faithful (Hebrews 10:23). He is the Creator (Genesis 1:1), the Provider (Genesis 22:14), the Healer (Exodus 15:26), and the Comforter (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). God is a Loving Father (1 John 3:1), a Mighty Warrior (Zephaniah 3:17), and a Just Judge (Psalm 94).
Psalm 34:17 assures us that, when the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. In John 14:27, Jesus promises, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Clinging to these truths has carried me through many difficulties, none more so than when I faced a particularly challenging set of circumstances as I pursued my God-given purpose (you may have already read about it in Um, Where’s my Miracle? and Um, Where’s my Miracle? (Part 2): The Overflow).
I grew up in Scotland and spent most of my life there but I followed the call of God on my life to move to Germany when I was thirty years old. God provided very few details when He first called me but it was everything I needed to take the first step: to move to the country to study the language and the culture.
I found a good language school not too far from the handful of people I already knew in Germany (I thought that would be a good place to start) and applied to join the beginners course. From there, accommodation was found, a one-way flight was booked, and I submitted my resignation at work.
There were many ‘unknowns’ that would be faced in the following months; which church would I attend, who will I build friendships with, how long will it take to learn the language, what comes next once I have learnt the language? However, the one question I was asked the most, was, “how will you financially support yourself?”
Honestly? I didn’t know. Finding a job without knowing the German language was a near impossible task. But I stood firmly on the promise that God is a God who provides, and if He had called me to Germany (which I firmly believed He had) then He would also have these other details figured out too.
But four and a half months in, having spent all of my money, including the little savings that I had, I woke one morning to discover I only had one pence left in my bank account.
I had always endeavoured to steward my money well but circumstances out with my control had crippled my finances further. Most significantly, the tenant living in my property in Scotland announced he was moving out, giving just 3 weeks notice, despite his contract not due to end for another seven months. This would result in having a mortgage to pay for in Scotland as well as rent on my apartment in Germany. These circumstances were less than ideal, but rather than throwing a strop, I clung to the promises of God’s provision.
At first, I thought that surely God would come through for me by the time my Scottish tenant had moved out of the apartment… but that day came and went.
Then I knew He would definitely have to provide for me before my mortgage payment was deducted a few days later… then He missed that deadline too, causing my bank account to plummet into my overdraft.
Hours ticked by that day as I refreshed my mobile banking app more than regularly, just in case I had ‘missed’ the miracle. My increasingly insistent prayers and positive declarations of faith appeared to be bouncing off the ceiling and going no further. The previous week I had assured my church home group that I would have a miracle to report by the following weekend. How would I tell them that I had been sorely mistaken?
Very quickly, the strong, resilient faith that I had been holding firmly in place since arriving on the continent began to fall apart.
In the days that followed, I experienced all the emotions. It began with anticipation and excitement at the expected miracle, which soon turned to doubt, that spiralled into fear and anxiety like I had never experienced before. I became so anxious that I spent several days fighting the physical manifestations of it.
But where was God in the midst of this? I had trusted Him, had I not? I had given up everything to follow His call, so why had He not come through yet? Would He really leave me with nothing?
That week felt long, and exhausting. But I learnt three valuable lessons:
1. God provides one day at a time. Even though it felt like God had abandoned me, or not provided for me like He promises in His Word, I began to realise that I had what I had needed for that day. He had provided enough food for me for that day. He had provided grace for me to cope with what I faced that day. There was no point dwelling on tomorrow, or next week, for God promised that that provision would come when I needed it. I had been looking for a miracle that would meet my needs for the coming weeks or months, but, as Oswald Chambers said, “you cannot hoard things for a rainy day if you are truly trusting Christ.”
2. God’s timing is perfect. In hindsight, I realise that I began to panic, not because I doubted that God would come through, but because I felt like God was late. Yet that was according to a timeline that I had concocted, not Him. Trusting His provision also means trusting His timing – this is never a fun lesson, no matter what we are waiting for! But His timing is wrapped up in grace, protection, and glory too. God is never in a hurry, but He is never late.
3. God uses our weakness to reveal His glory. Just like Gideon’s army, God will sometimes strip back the worldly provision we come to depend on so that our focus returns to Him. We can become blinded to His goodness when we only see provision in pay cheques, pension schemes, or a clean bill of health from medical staff. But when those things fail us, God lovingly draws our attention back onto Him, to witness His miraculous provision, so we no longer wrongly accredit it to perishable things.
I was reassured that God is faithful, He loves me, He cares for me, He had heard my prayers, He knew what I needed, and He was, and still is, capable of providing for He is a good Father. When we trust Him we do not need to do anything to earn His love or provision, it brings Him joy to give us His best.
No sooner had I reflected on my situation and learnt these lessons than God began to act.
The very next day, a Monday (ten days after my Scottish tenant moved out and five days after my mortgage payment had been deducted), I received an email from former missionaries offering me wisdom and guidance, having faced similar challenges themselves. I am so grateful that God’s provision is not just financial; finance is only a means to an end, after all. But His provision extends to people, resources and opportunities too. These are the things that truly bring wealth.
Later that evening, I was contacted by friends in Germany and informed that an acquaintance of their’s – whom I had never met – had heard my story and wanted to financially support me… for an entire year. I cried.
On Tuesday, friends in Scotland called me, requesting my bank account details, for they also wanted to send me money and begin supporting me monthly.
On Wednesday, I attended my church small group and was then able to share with them how God had provided. It was the testimony that I had indeed hoped to have shared with them, but it had looked so unlikely just a few days previous.
On our way home in the car, I shared with my group leader that the mortgage payment that had been deducted from my account the previous week had taken me into the red, having had received no rent from my tenantless apartment that month. So he prayed, asking God to expunge the overdraft, as we sat waiting for the traffic lights to turn green.
On Thursday, I received a letter from the bank informing me that I was overdrawn (yes, I had been well aware, thank you) and that fees would be deducted for every day I had been overdrawn. That evening, feeling dejected at the thought of further financial loss, I logged on to my Online Banking platform and found that a further two financial gifts had been transferred into my account without my knowledge, bringing me back into the black, and even covering all the fees I had incurred. I cried again.
That was a hard season (albeit a season that only lasted a few weeks but felt like a lifetime), but God proved Himself faithful at every challenge I faced. He works for us behind the scenes, lovingly caring for our every need, even when we don’t see it or appreciate it ourselves. His love for us is so great, so deep, and so personal. His timing is spot on, always. And He never abandons us, we simply need to call out to Him and He meets us right where we are.
Without that turbulent week, I could never have truly appreciated the extent to which God goes to surprise us and reveal to us how much He loves us. I would have missed His hand in the detail of my life. He shows His Word to be true and Himself to be faithful. And others then had the opportunity to partner with me and sow into the adventure He had taken me on.
Some nine months later, I faced similar financial challenges but the testimony of God’s faithfulness in that first trial built my faith to stand firm on His promises and believe for a miraculous provision again (you can read that testimony in The Repeat Examination).
Whatever you are facing right now, be assured that God loves you, He is for you, and He is ready and willing to work a miracle in your life; just call out to Him and watch Him act. No challenge is too great or too small for Him to take an invested interest and lead you safely through it.
But aside from challenge, change can also disrupt our lives and stir up a whirlwind of emotions. Change is inevitable in life, but some of us handle it better than others, especially if it is a change we did not want or expect.
Perhaps, for you, The Change has manifested as marriage, a new baby, a career change, or facing an illness. Navigating change takes hard work, expends much energy, and raises many questions.
“How will The Change affect me?”
“How will life be different for my family after The Change?”
“What about my… home, job, finances, [fill in the blank]?”
Can you relate?
God often brings about change around us to bring about change in us. He does not do it to stress us out or panic us, but He uses it as an object lesson to draw our eyes back onto Himself so He can grow and shape us; preparing our character, our faith and our perspective for all that He has prepared for us in the next season of life.
He places us in situations that are completely out of our control, so that He can remind us and demonstrate to us that He is the one in control. We were never really in control to begin with, but we do like to interfere from time to time, don’t we?
I have always been very independent. I am a bit of a ‘Jack of all trades’ and can put my hand to just about anything and get an acceptable result. I achieved good grades at school without trying all that hard; I hold some skill in music, art, photography, DIY, computing and web design, among other things; I have experience working with all ages of children, teenagers, and adults; and I was always well organised, trustworthy, reliable, and committed. With this range of skill and character, I was offered many opportunities and, more often than not, thrived in them; in work, in church, and in life.
Maybe you immediately see the problem with this, but I did not. Not for a long time, anyway. The problem is that, because of my varied skillset, I always depended on my own ability and achieved much. I had never really experienced the need to seek God’s help. I had always muddled through on my own…
Until I moved to Germany.
It was not just financial need that proved a challenge. All of a sudden, the easiest of tasks were a hundred times harder. Because I had very meagre German language skills to begin with, even my weekly visit to the supermarket rendered me fearful. My heart would pound as I shuffled closer to the cashier, not knowing what they might ask me and having no way to respond anyway. On several occasions I bought the wrong items because I had entirely misunderstood the label.
Meeting new people and building friendships takes time and is hard enough without the added language barrier. My first friendships could only grow as far as the other person’s ability in English permitted, because I was unable to communicate or express myself at all in German.
I had to familiarise myself with a new country, a new culture, new laws and legislation, new cities, a new church, new currency, a different transport system.
This is when I truly learnt to depend on God. Like it or not, He was all I had. But I soon discovered that He was all I needed.
I soon began to recognise His hand in the small and mundane events of the day. His timing was impeccable, He orchestrated numerous ‘coincidences’, and He lovingly caused my path to cross with the right people just when I needed them the most. I was dependent on Him for understanding the language, for financial provision, for opportunities to build friendships, and for direction as I navigated my way around unfamiliar territory. For the first time in my adult life, I had nothing in and of myself to depend on, I had to completely rely on God.
I remember the first day I went to church. It was in a different city and required a train and two buses to get there. The previous day I had carefully mapped out the route, noted down the departure times, and memorised the bus numbers. So, bright and early the next morning, I began my journey. Thankfully, the train ride passed without a hitch. I knew that I only had 4 minutes between the train arriving and the first bus departing so I was poised at the train door, ready to disembark the moment the doors opened.
I jogged up the platform, keen not to waste a second, my eyes frantically scanning the unfamiliar station for the exit. The problem was, there were several exits.
I knew I needed to reach Bus Station A, but no signs in the train station made any reference to buses, let alone Station A. On my second attempt I found the correct exit and was pleased to find that Station A was that which was closest to me. I wasn’t pleased, however, that Bus 37, that which I so eagerly sought, had already departed.
I stood there, pleased that I had made it to the correct city, but dejected at the idea that I was so close to church, yet entirely unfamiliar with my new surroundings with no idea how to complete my journey.
At first I thought, “Well, you made it this far, that’s a good start. At least this part will be familiar when you try again next week.” But another voice in my head reasoned,” But you made it this far! Isn’t there another way to reach your destination?”
My newly acquired German SIM card had very little data availability on it and I had already exceeded the limit due to still having no Wifi set-up in my apartment. Therefore the search for a new bus route was a slow and frustrating one. After about 10 minutes, the webpage successfully loaded and presented me with a new bus route and departure time. It would cause me to be a few minutes late for church, but that was a compromise I was willing to make.
The newly anticipated bus arrived a short time later and, knowing I had to change buses at ‘Berliner Strasse’, I kept my eye on the information screen and my thumb hovering over the ‘stop’ button.
At the bus stop on Berliner Strasse it was a very easy hop-off-one, hop-on-another switch and I once again kept my eyes glued to the information screen, determined not to miss my much-sought-after final stop.
Eventually, the screen announced, “Next stop: Habichtweg” and I leapt off the bus with great excitement and anticipation at finally visiting the church that I had been streaming online and praying into for several months previous.
But where was the church? Yes, the travel app had taken me to the correct bus stop, but as I rotated 360 degrees on the spot, I realised I had no idea where to go next.
“God, what now? You’ve taken me this far, show me where to go.”
There was a huddle of young-ish, trendy-ish people that had got off the bus with me, and something inside of me told me to follow them. So I did.
As I walked a couple of strides behind them, I wondered how long I could follow them without appearing too conspicuous. There was no-one else around and we appeared to be walking away from the residential area toward several business premises so it made sense to me that this group had a valid reason for being there. I kept up my tail.
Just as I was beginning to doubt my plan, we rounded a corner and I spotted parking stewards wearing hi-vis vests, lining the road to the church entrance like lights on a runway. Despite uncertainty, failed plans, and no language to ask for help, I had successfully reached my destination, with more than a little help from the Holy Spirit.
Interestingly, it wasn’t until another month or so later I realised just how much the Holy Spirit had helped me that morning. For one Sunday I successfully caught Bus 37 and discovered that it did stop on Berliner Strasse, as expected, but at a junction, some distance away from where I needed to catch the next bus. Had I taken Bus 37 that first Sunday, I would have faced even more difficulties trying to identify the street and direction I needed to walk in in order to find the second bus stop and may have never made it to church at all. It is in small details like these that I am now so acutely aware of God’s guidance in everyday, mundane activities.
Yet the challenges we face, and the weaknesses and failings we have are no accident; God uses them all to lead us to Himself. When we do not have the skills, character or provision to take the next step, our lack should propel us towards His abundance, and not to anxiety. Fear swells within us when we think everything depends on us, but God uses our weakness to remind us that everything actually depends on Him.
One of the primary reasons we find ourselves worried or stressed is because we are thinking about the future; weeks, months or even years ahead. Our scenarios are often theoretical, yet our anxiety is very real. But if we learn, instead, to focus on today – embrace it, enjoy it and engage fully with it instead of thinking too far ahead – our anxiety often disperses. The Bible encourages us to “not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34 (AMP)).
When we learn to live in the moment, our eyes and our spirit are more alert to the little surprises that God engineers throughout our day. We begin to see His hand at work in the routine tasks, or recognise His guiding hand steering us away from trouble. That which we once considered to be coincidences we no longer perceive just as luck, but as personalised gifts from Heaven to brighten our day.
So what is God asking you to do today? Not tomorrow, not next week, but today? There is nothing to be achieved in asking God for direction in our futures if we are not obedient in that which He has already asked of us. Until we can be trusted to obey God in the now, He will not trust us with what He wants to ask of us next.
When we commit our lives to God, we also commit to being obedient to what He asks of us. But sometimes we are incognisant of what this actually means. We are looking for great sea-worthy adventures on the vast ocean of unknowns, but that will never be available to us unless we are first willing to get our feet wet and learn to be obedient in the small, simple acts of every day. If we commit to being obedient to God, then we commit to following through on the smallest or the largest thing; our attitude should be the same to both.
Yes, we should be dreaming big dreams. But dreams are not fulfilled with just a hop, skip, and a jump to the finish line. Anything worth building takes much time and many, many small incremental steps towards success. So do not overlook the significance of the small steps of obedience you are taking (or maybe not taking) each day. 1 Corinthians 15:58 reminds us to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord our labour is not in vain. Every seed planted and nurtured will, one day, bear great fruit.
When we love someone, we seek to do what will please them, and act without hesitation. So why should it be any different with God? If we wholeheartedly love our Heavenly Father, then we will want to live in a way that pleases Him, and therefore obey Him without question.
We can expect God to ask us to do things that appear unattractive or scary, and it will take great courage and faith, sometimes, to take that step of obedience. But once we do, His grace and strength fills us like never before and the tasks He sets before us become divinely easy when we rise to the challenge and obey His commands. Surrendered obedience to God is the only path to true joy.
When we stop and remember God’s faithfulness to us in our past, it builds our faith for what He will do in our present struggles. Sometimes it is difficult to imagine that the same God who performed every miracle in the Bible can and will step in and do the impossible in our lives too. But, if we allow Him to, He loves to surprise us and overwhelm us with His provision.
I have a friend who, while studying, returned to his school dormitory one day to find that his laptop was broken. And not just a little broken, it was broken in two. Disgruntled and frustrated at this misfortune, he – in his own words – responded like a child and had a little tantrum. Then, laying down on his bed in resignation, he fell asleep. An hour or so later, he received a knock at his dorm door; it was his classmate. “Come with me,” he told my friend. Along the corridor, in his dormitory, the classmate pointed to his own laptop, only a few months old, and said, “for the last three days, God has been prompting me to give this to you.”
Our perspective can be so limited, can’t it? We see what is right before us and respond -often poorly – to what is evident to our own eyes, but God is at work in places unseen. God was working on the provision of a new laptop for my friend before it was even broken! That is how good our God is. He is right there with us in every challenge and change, showing us the way forward, if we only have the eyes to see it. He is loving, caring, and forever faithful.
In his second letter to the church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul wrote, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
The Apostle Paul is testifying to the early church that he faced many challenges of his own, and walking in obedience to God was no easy option, even for him. But (yes, there is a big ‘but’) he states that he is content because he understands that it is only through his own weaknesses that God’s power and glory is most evident. He boasts of his own failings because he knows that it creates even greater scope for the Holy Spirit to work in him and through him. Paul’s attitude was one of joy and perseverance because he embraced a higher perspective; one beyond just his own circumstances.
If we are truly committed to fully participating in the adventure that God has called us to, we, too, must adjust our attitudes and seek a greater perspective for the good of all, and not just ourselves. Only then can we face change and challenge head-on, and embrace the opportunities for preparation and growth that come with them.
This blogpost is part 6 of a blog series, Adventure Awaits.
Part 1: Created for Adventure
Part 2: Beginning the Adventure
Part 3: Designed for Adventure
Part 4: Essential Tools for the Journey
Part 5: Facing Opposition
Part 6: Embracing Challenge & Change
Part 7: The Waiting Game
Part 8: Anticipating Adventure
Part 9: Packing Light
Part 10: When Adventure Becomes a Habit
Part 11: The Greatest Adventure