Life is full of many promises, at least when you follow God it is. But in my life lately, I have yet to see any of those promises come to past. I have been walking with the Lord for some 15 years now, and from the beginning of our relationship, I knew that my life would be different. I knew that as a result of following Jesus, my life would look different than the lives of those around me and that God would call me to follow standards of living that others choose not to follow. To the degree of what that meant, I did not understand but as I grow closer to God, I am beginning to get a glimpse.
The last couple of weeks and months, I would say, my relationship with God has taken on a different shape largely based on the season that I am in. I feel as if God has taken away everything that I could possibly hold onto and I must admit, it has been scary, humiliating, and trying most of the time. He has taken away many things that I used to depend on, and taken me to a place where I began to question his sanity and his love for me. In my understanding, I felt that God was ordering my life in one particular way and yet He has been showing me that he is doing it another. Many of the promises that He has made regarding my career, my relationships, my finances, I felt like He was about to fulfill, and legitimately so, but here I stand with those things unfulfilled and honestly, quite hurt as a result.
My disappointment, you could say brought up all sorts of feelings. At one moment, I was angry at God, at another, angry at the world. I felt insecure, I felt alone, I felt depressed. I tried to pray and seek God's face, but if it is very hard to seek the face of someone that you are angry at. For many days, I passed my day in sorrow and in despondency, and really began to pity the state that God had left me in. I felt largely deserted by Him, even though I still tried to seek Him. I began to feel as if all of God's promises in His Word was for everyone but for me, and I began to think of myself as Esau, the one that God hated, instead of like Jacob, the one that he loved.
It was this past Monday when I stepped into my counselor's office and began to explain to her some of these things. And it was also Monday, when my world began to change. As I confessed where I was, because I had never admitted out loud that I felt that God had it in for me, God came to meet me there. I knew in my head all of His promises were true, and that His Word was true, but deep in my heart, the little girl in me did not. All that little girl in me believed was that God would turn out being just like her earthly father, because that was the only example of a father that she knew. All that she knew and understood was that a father was hateful, vengeful, untrustworthy, and deceitful. But this is where God had to meet me, in order so that he could begin to heal me.
The remainder of the week was filled with emotional highs and lows. Realizing that this was what I thought about God, I began to feed my Spirit with the truth of His Word, and asked Him to really reveal to me all that he was. In the process of my seeking, I read from Isaiah 49 which talked about God restoring the Israelites. In this text, God showed Israel that He had not forsaken them and had not forgotten them, but that they were constantly on his mind. In a sense I was encouraged, but then on the other hand I was not because I wondered what I did that I needed to be restored.
It was Wednesday when I realized that I was beating myself and God up too much in my mind to find any relief. I began to call on the resources of friends that God placed at my disposal, but largely to complain and point out where God had brought me to. God used a few people to speak words of encouragement and words that shed some light on the things that he was doing in the Spirit. He did take some things away, and he did bring me to this point, but He would also restore me and fulfill those promises that he made from the beginning. I needed to resolve to worship him. I needed to resolve to seek him no matter what was going on, because on the other side there was blessing and I just needed to hang on.
I think that it is in times like these when the devil begins to act up the most. Just because God was trying to do something in me, did not mean that Satan was going to rest still. No, it did not mean that he was going to behave and give God room to do what he wanted to do in me. Instead, he threw discouragement, fear, disappointment and every other fiery dart my way to get me to give up. But I knew that it would be silly to throw in the towel, because I also knew that God had brought me too far just to leave me hanging, if nothing else, His name was at stake. But it was more than his name, it was me who was on the line. He also wanted to prove himself to me, and show me who he was. As I prayed one night, I heard God whisper to me that he was concerned more about my healing than anything that I could do for Him. He was more concerned about me getting to the place that I needed to be in my relationship with him, than all of the people that I thought I needed to save.
Friday night, after spending some time with friends, I came home and decided that I would spend time in the Word and in prayer. I thought that I would read through I John which spoke about the love of God, but the Holy Spirit took me to James instead. As I read through the book of James, the Holy Spirit spoke to me on multiple levels. I needed to learn to preserve during this trial so that God could make me perfect and complete, lacking in no good thing. In reading this, I began to ask God how long. How long with this trial last? How long did he need to perfect me and make me complete to the point that he could trust me with the blessings of his promises. Instead of giving me an answer, he reminded me of the Israelites and their journey out of Egypt. God delivered them from slavery and the persecution that the Egyptians afflicted on them. He promised them a land, an inheritance flowing with milk and honey, and he promised that they would turn around and bless others. He did not give them the promise right away but took them through the desert to get the stench of Egypt off of them. He knew that as they were, they could not handle the promise, the blessing, but had to clean them off and allow them to go through some things. He had to show them how to fight, and he needed to show them how to trust in him. This process, however, was supposed to take only eleven days, but because of their complaining and disobedience, it took forty years.
In all of this, God has shown me that I still smell and look like Egypt. Yes, he has made promises to me and he will come through on those promises in his own time. But he needs to get the garments of slavery off of me before I can interact with his blessings. Although ultimately it is his process and his hand that brings me through, I have a role to play. What will my attitude be in this? How will I act and how will I behave? I can be like the Israelites and whine and complain at everything that comes my way, or I can resolve to be like David and learn to encourage myself in the Lord. How I choose to act and respond is entirely up to me, but choosing to pity myself is no longer an option as it will definitely delay the Lord's blessing and turn what is supposed to be eleven days into forty years.
I do not know who my testimony is for. But I do know that there are others out there who are waiting for God to come through on some things and to date, he has not yet. We cannot control how fast God chooses to work, he cannot control the process, but we can control our attitudes in the midst of it. We can choose to bless the Lord with everything that is in us, and allow God to show us the areas of weakness. We can allow God to take us through the desert for a season, or spend a lifetime there because we choose to be bitter, angry, and act defeated. The choice is ours saints. Be Encouraged!!!