I’m not a fan of waiting for things. We live in a culture of expecting things immediately, and so when it comes to having to wait for something, we don’t always have the patience required to see it through.
I remember as a kid growing up, the pain of having to wait for Christmas Day to come, or for the summer holidays to finally arrive, wishing the time would speed up just a little.
But there’s something that happens during the waiting. The Bible is full of stories of people having to wait, and it’s during the waiting where God equips and readies the people for what is to come. We see it with Joesph in Genesis, where he spent years in prison before he finally stepped in to what God had for him. But, without the time spent waiting, Joseph would not have been prepared for what was to come, the waiting was necessary. Painful at times, I’m sure, but necessary nonetheless. It’s in the waiting where we are sharpened and prepared for the coming season ahead.
Last year was one of waiting for us, one of constant anxiety and strain as we endured 9 long months of pregnancy before the safe arrival of our boy. After what had happened the previous year, every minute of this pregnancy was a battle. Waiting was not fun. There is a song which I listened to a lot during this time, called Take Courage, by Bethel music. The song has the lyrics,
Take courage my heart, stay steadfast my soul, He’s in the waiting, He’s in the waiting. Hold on to your hope, as your triumph unfolds, He’s never failing, He’s never failing.
These words really resonated with me, as we held on to the hope of a successful pregnancy, and the promise God gave to me in the days after losing Elias. The promise that within a year, we would have another child. God’s word and His promises will not fail. We don’t always know why some things happen the way they do, why we must endure such pain or trauma, but can we hold on to the hope that God has good things in store? If your situation is not currently good, Then take courage, for He is still at work.
And so, as I look forward to the new year and all that it may bring, as I wait for His lead on things within my life, it’s a choice I must make daily to hold on to the hope that He knows what He is doing, that He is bringing us to a place of fulfilled promises, joy and life. And it’s my prayer for you, too, that as you may be in a time of waiting and discerning, that the God of fulfilled promises will sustain you and guide you through all the decisions you need to make. It’s often only when we take the first step out that we see God at work.
Emma and I spent this past weekend over in Ireland, traveling around the Dublin area and on down to Kilkenny to be with a church there. On the Friday night, I opened my Bible to Isaiah 43, and since reading those verses, I have found myself coming back to them each day. Here’s what it says:
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”
God’s promise to us here is that He is at work in our lives. He is not lying dormant, but is actually active in bringing new things in to our lives. Sometimes it can be so easy to become focused on our lack that we miss out on what God is actually doing. The Bible tells us we lack nothing, so once we believe this, we can position ourselves to receive all that God has for us in this coming season of life.
The danger of dwelling on the past is that it prevents us from moving forward, it holds us back and distracts us. Jesus warns of this in the NT, when He says “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)
To forget something requires us to let go. Are we willing to let go of the things in the past so that we can fully move forward? Let go of that feeling of guilt, or shame, or doubt or anxiety. The enemy would love for our focus to be on who we were in the past, not who God sees us as today.
Let’s position ourselves for God to do a new thing in our lives this week, whether that is letting go of a hurt, breaking a cycle of thought, or forgiving someone who let you down, it’s time to look forward, don’t miss it.
I sometimes wonder what it would have been like being the Israelites after they had been taken out of Egypt, and moved into the wilderness. For years they spent their time complaining about being out there and romanticizing their time in slavery back in Egypt, wishing they could be back there where at least they had plenty of food to eat, more than the boring manna which fell from the sky each day! It’s easy to read about the stories from that time and criticize them for their lack of faith in God, and for how quickly they seemed to forget what God had done during the great escape from Pharaoh and his men. When they were faced with challenging times, they immediately looked back to their past situation, a time of captivity and bondage, and dreamed of being back there, where at least they were guaranteed food, forgetting the reality of slavery.
I think sometimes we too act like that, looking back with a fondness to a past season in our lives, and wishing we were back there. But what we need to be doing instead, is to be always looking forward, always moving in the direction God has got us pointed in, always believing that God knows what He is doing, despite what our current circumstances may be trying to tell us.
I picked our car up from the garage yesterday after finding out that it will cost hundreds of pounds to get it to pass it MOT test, and so have since been looking for scrap yards that will take it off our hands in exchange for at least some cash. So, we are now car-less and dealing with some other financial uncertainties. But, a midst it all, I find myself full of joy and expectancy that God is about to do something amazing. Just this morning as I spent time with God, I was reminded of James 1:2, which reminds us to “consider it pure joy…whenever you are faced with trials of many kinds…” I have never really understood this passage before – how can I expect to be full of joy when going through trials? And then it hit me, I can consider it pure joy because I trust that God is for me and not against me, I know that He is at work to make all things good in my life, and I know that His peace fills me in the process of it all. Instead of looking at my current situation with fear and anxiety, I get to look at it with joy and excitement about what God is going to do, and how I get to partner with Him and be a part of it all the way. If I can just keep moving forward, trusting Him, then nothing can rob me of my joy!
I love Psalm 23, it’s a classic passage which gives us such a clear image of the character of God. He will never leave us, He is our comforter and strength, as we walk through the valleys. There are a couple things we need to do if/when we find ourselves in a valley – first is to walk, not stop, keep moving forward and not become overwhelmed with what we see around us. The enemy would love for us to stop and wallow in the valley for a time while he feeds us with doubts and fears that are lies and couldn’t be further from the truth.
The second thing we get to do is to remember all God has done for us. People back then would carve on their staff testimonies from their life of what God had done for them in the past, as a reminder for when they are faced with trials that God has helped them before, so He will help them again. It’s with that in mind that we can freely and joyfully move forward, laughing at the plans of the enemy because we have a big God who is on our side and who is guiding us through.
So, let’s exercise our laughter muscles today, as we laugh at the plans of the enemy, and as we look to God to fill us with joy and peace as we keep moving forward, from strength to strength, from glory to glory.
This is my first post of the new year, so I better make it a good one! In the space of two months, I have got married, had our first Christmas together and become an uncle to a beautiful baby boy, and just yesterday I started a new job. The job is exactly what I was born to do, and I am so excited for what this next year will bring here in Scotland and around the world. God is faithful to our hearts desires, when we take a step out into the unknown and show Him we trust in Him, we give Him room to move in our lives in powerful and unexpected ways.
I have a good feeling about 2014, I think this may be the best year yet. I get excited when I think about the fact that God is more excited about our futures then we sometimes are, He is more eager to reveal to us what He has planned for us than we know. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us God has great things planned for us, things that will prosper us and give us hope. I believe that 2014 is a year of renewed hope for those of us who have lost that recently. I believe 2014 is a year of outrageous provision from the Lord for those who are ready and willing to allow God to move in and through them.
Proverbs 3:5,6 encourages us to trust fully in the Lord, and acknowledge Him in all we do, and He will make our paths straight. This year, I want to develop within me a lifestyle of acknowledging Him in every situation I am faced with, I want to declare His goodness and faithfulness through it all, even if I struggle to see what He is doing.
Several times this week I have found myself reading through Romans 8:28-39, where Paul reminds us that we are indeed more than conquerors. “In ALL things God works for the good of those who love him.” ALL things, not one thing or a couple of things, but ALL things in your life God is at work for your good. Verse 32 goes on to say “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” It was more painful for God to see us separated from Him then it was for Him to see Jesus die on the cross. That’s love. That’s faithfulness beyond any comprehension. Since God has done this for us, that should give us hope for the future, hope for 2014, that He has not taken us this far to now leave us alone, but He has only just begun to reveal to us what He has planned for our future. He is not a God of limited resources, He is a God of extreme love for us, and a God who so desperately wants the best for me, for you.
Verse 34 and 35 of that chapter tells us that Jesus Himself sits at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. Jesus, right now, is praying for you. I don’t know about you, but that gives me hope for the future!
So, as you set about this first month of 2014, remember that God is at work in your life, bringing everything into alignment, Jesus is interceding for you. All we need to do is to love the Lord with all our strength, to trust in Him in all our ways, and to allow Him room in our lives to bring provision, hope, wisdom. I pray that 2014 really is the best year yet for you, that you will begin to feel God and see God at work in your life today, and that as you put your trust in Him and draw near to Him, you will begin to hear with an increased clarity His word for you today. God is for you. Nothing can get in His way.
Jehovah Jirah, the Lord is your provider. That’s how the Israelites knew God, they had seen Him provide for them time and again, even when they didn’t deserve it. God was their provider. God is our provider today. His character has never changed from then until now, He still is a God who over abundantly provides for those whose trust is in Him.
Last week, my wife and I returned from our honeymoon to Malaysia. We had a great time over there but were excited to return to Edinburgh and begin married life together. As we returned home, we were faced with the reality of me being out of work, which, if we had let it, could have robbed us of our joy and our peace. However, I am determined to not let something like that happen to us, no matter what the situation we are faced with.
Within three days of being back in Scotland, I had myself a job, which I am very excited about, and which I cannot talk about until I start officially in January. God provided me with an incredible job opportunity. He is our provider.
And yet we find ourselves in a position where I still have no income until I start the job, something which again, if we let it, could rob us of our joy and our peace. If we forget who God is and what He has done for us already, then a situation like this could indeed be very scary. But I refuse to do that. Each morning, we say declarations reminding ourselves of who God is and who we are in God. God richly provides all our financial needs, I have seen it time and again, and I believe it still to be true today. I may not have income at the moment, but He will still make a way for us.
I was reading 2 Corinthians chapter 9 the other day. What an incredible chapter that is! Verse 8, in the “Source” version of the New Testament, says “God has the power to cause all kinds of gifts to overflow to you, so that you will be independently wealthy in all things at all times, and will have much left over for every good work.” Wow. That’s crazy. God not only supplies us with our needs, but He gives us more than enough so that we will have much leftover to carry out good work. God is our provider. He is our abundant provider. He is always faithful and true. He is always with us and always for us. No matter what situation we are faced with, no matter what the “problem” is, we need to remind ourselves of just how big our God really is, and just how for us He is. He has not taken you this far just to leave you in the lurch. Nothing you are faced with is a surprise to God. Lean into Him, trust in Him in all your ways, and He will make your paths straight.
So, this week, we are choosing to focus solely on God and His love for us and His provision for us. God is our provider, it’s time to give Him room to provide.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5,6
For the last couple of weeks, I have found myself thinking of this verse, and thinking of what it means to acknowledge God in ALL my ways. The word acknowledge means “to show or express recognition, appreciation or gratitude”. It’s when we express our gratitude to God and give Him all the glory for all the good things that come our way, we give Him room in our lives to “make our paths straight”. I have been trying to remind myself daily to give God thanks and recognition for all He has done in my life, each day. He is always at work in our lives. There is never a day where God is not involved in our lives. His promise is that He will never leave or abandon us. If we truly believe that, then would can hold us back from stepping forward into all He has for us, trusting in Him in every area of life, even when our own understanding of the situation may be contrary to what God does. We should never limit God to what our understanding thinks He can do.
Last week, my fiance and I received news that we had been successful in our application for an apartment, which I will move in to in 3 weeks, followed post wedding by Emma. During the process, we had to supply all sorts of paper work and background checks, not an easy thing to do when I haven’t lived in this country for six years. On paper we were unlikely candidates for the apartment, but we believed God wanted us to have this place, even when we walked in for the viewing, we felt such peace there and assurance that we would get the flat. I remember when we left after viewing it, we made a declaration that the flat would be ours, despite the fact we lacked much of the information they required! God really wants us to move in there.
I am still believing God for a ministry job to open up for me here, I am trusting in Him even when it might seem bleak to someone looking in from the outside. I want to always acknowledge Him in every breakthrough in life, no matter how big or how small it is. In doing this, according to this verse in Proverbs, He will make our paths straight. The thing about a straight path is that, well, it’s straight. You don’t need to worry about when a corner is coming up, or whether you are about to go through a crazy mountain pass. It’s just straight. I love this image as for me it means that I don’t always need to know everything that is coming up in life, I just need to be putting one foot in front of the other, confident that God has got me on the straight path, and that I don’t need to see exactly where I am going right now, but I will trust fully in Him all along the way. God doesn’t want us to be stationary, so He makes it a straight path. He makes it really easy for us to keep moving into all that He has for us.
In my own personal life, I am believing God for healing within my own body, which is a strange place to be in after witnessing so many healing’s in other people’s lives. I believe God will heal me, and soon. As each day goes by, I get a day closer to my healing. You can help me reach this by believing for this with me as well. That doesn’t mean that I am sitting back expecting God to show up in a dramatic way. He might do that. He might also want to heal me through other people, through doctors.
So, this week, acknowledge God in all your ways, whether it be financial, relational, physical, whatever. Acknowledge Him for who He is. Surround yourself with Bible verses supporting who He is for the situation you are faced with. Trust in the Lord, not on your own, or other people’s, understanding.