Posts Tagged ‘Trials’

This week has been extremely tough for me and a few of my friends.  It’s as though all of us have hit a moment in life where we’re all trying to reexamine our place in the world, and trying to understand what it is that we are supposed to be doing right now.  Speaking for myself, my heart and mind have been in this state of realism that shocks even me, because I recognize that I have absolutely no clue what my purpose is anymore.  I have no clue what path I’m supposed to take, which direction I’m going in, and I can’t make heads or tails of anything.  I feel like I know what I’m supposed to do in life, and I have a plan for myself and my family.  But to be completely honest, the plan is failing, and I don’t know what to do about it.

I’ve been searching Scriptures, trying to regain focus and understand the concepts of True Calling, Preordination, Predestination, and Divine Will, and in doing so, the first thing I recognized is that my thoughts are not God’s thoughts, nor are my ways His either (Isaiah 55:8-9).  Now, naturally, that doesn’t make not knowing my purpose any easier, because by not knowing God’s thoughts, I don’t know what His plans are for me.  And it makes me all the more uncomfortable, because in this state of fearfulness and uneasiness, it would make me feel a whole lot better if I just knew what in the world I’m supposed to be doing.

Many times, we are just like that, when we’re in limbo, and we don’t know what turn to make at the crossroads of life.  Not knowing what job offer to take, or not knowing who to trust, or not knowing whether to go back to school, or whether to quit one job in an effort to live a more fulfilling life.  And not knowing whether we will succeed or fail makes the apprehension that much more unbearable.

So I asked God, “What am I doing here?  What am I supposed to be doing?  With everything I do now, and everything you’ve given me to do, all this talent, all these gifts, why do I feel like I’m not where I’m supposed to be?  Why do I still feel as though my heart is unfulfilled, and I’m unhappy, unsuccessful, and I have nothing to show for the work I have done?  Why do I feel like I’m still in the basement after all these years, not having moved up a single floor?  Why does it feel like the harder I work, the further down I go?  What is my purpose?  What is my true calling?”

God’s response:  “Love me with your whole heart, serve me with your life, let go of your idols.  I want it all.”

God opened my eyes and helped me to see through faith that my true calling, my purpose, is not linked in performing a single set of tasks for the rest of my life.  It isn’t about finding something to do on a daily basis that will satisfy my insatiable appetite for purpose on Earth.  Rather, my purpose, the purpose God has called me for, is simply to follow Him.

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” Matthew 16:24-27

Many times, I have been trying to find something that will fulfill my heart, make me happy, satisfy myself, and all the while, God has been constantly trying to show me that it is not about me, but it is all about HIM and what He needs me for as it pertains to HIS purpose, and not my own.  It does not matter if I find my purpose in life, for if I try to find my purpose in life, what happens when that purpose becomes boring, unsatisfying, not enough, or even too much to bear, and I restart the process of trying to “find my purpose” all over again?  Instead of being so concerned about finding a purpose on the Earth that will satisfy my flesh, I must concern myself with aligning my life according to His purpose.  His purpose for my life is to “diligently seek Him.”

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”  Matthew 6:33

My purpose, our purpose, is simply to have a relationship with God.  That is our purpose here on this Earth, to have a relationship with Him.  Because through our relationship with God, with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit, we then begin to understand that God’s love is strong enough to carry us through these times of uncertainty, times in which we don’t know what’s going to happen to us, or what our earthly purpose is.  We can trust in God to lead us in the right direction, even if we can’t see where he’s leading us, because:

” Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you;”  Jeremiah 1:5

Before my mother and father even thought of using their bodies as a means of physical satisfaction to create me, God knew how I would be created, and what I would be created for, and I can take pride in knowing that I have a Father in Heaven who knew me well before my earthly parents thought about my very existence 5-6 months after conception.  In light of this, furthermore,

” The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. 24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.”  Psalm 37:23-24

So I know that as long as I am in relationship with God, and I trust Him to never leave nor forsake me, then my steps, though the clouds hang low and the path seems foggy, will always lead me into my purpose, no matter what I believe may be happening to me.  I don’t have to fret about trying to figure out what my life is all about, what I’m supposed to be doing, or whether I’m on the right path.  As long as I’m in relationship with God, He will always make me fully aware of my purpose, and what I’m supposed to be doing so that His Will, not mine, can be done.  Serving God is my purpose, for He will always make sure that I stay aligned with Him as long as I seek after Him.  And though mistakes and mishaps may happen, I can rest, assured that:

” And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”  Romans 8:28-30

Everything that has happened in my life and is happening in my life is happening because, so long as I am in good standing with God in terms of my relationship to Him, everything is working out for my good.  God will not allow me to fall out of His purpose, because everything that happens to me, even the very thoughts I have, are in direct correlation to His purpose.  So I do not have to be discouraged when I see that my life is not where I would want it to be, or that things just don’t seem in place.  As long as I am staying close to God, He will lead me in the right direction, and in doing so, show me daily what He wants me to do for Him.

Now, having said all of this, it still leaves me wondering, “How do I know that I am operating in God’s purpose, His true calling?”  The way God has given it to me is that His calling for my life is to Love Him, and I love Him by doing what He wants me to do.  What He wants me to do for Him is linked to the gifts, talents, skills, and characteristics He has blessed me with.  So how will I know that it is time for me to utilize a specific gift?  Because the opportunity to utilize that gift will present itself, and when it does, it will be up to me to RECOGNIZE it, and GO FORTH.  Many times we waste time seeking after “our purpose,” when it simply may not be time for us to utilize the gift God has given us to fulfill His purpose through us.  That’s why it’s so important to seek God and stay in communion with Him, because when He is ready to utilize us, not only will He tell us, He will ignite the “purpose” in our hearts, equip us (or already have equipped us) with the tools to do it, provide us with the necessary provisions to fulfill it, and navigate our steps so that His purpose is fulfilled.

Our purpose is to follow Christ.  That’s it!  It may seem strange to think about it this way, but that is ABSOLUTELY it, for by setting our sights and hearts on things above, God makes everything else aligned with His purpose prosper.  It’s time for us to stop looking so diligently for a purpose to call our own and to live to the calling that has been placed in our lives since before the world was framed.  Our purpose is to follow Christ, to love God, and to serve one another.  In doing that, our purpose will be fulfilled.

Advertisements

I have often wondered to myself why people of faith allow themselves to suffer because of their inability to faithfully walk in the path God has lain before them.  Many times, I have seen people who know that they’re supposed to do great works for God, but choose not to, and suffer because of it.  I have seen ministries falter because the leadership failed to hear the voice and command of God and went a different direction.  I have seen churches who were once pillars of communities for over a century suddenly wither to nothingness because the leadership chose to follow the crowd’s desires instead of God’s.  And all the while, I’ve had to deal with the pain of watching the world burn, and not being able to do anything about it.

Many times as Christians, we are given visions and plans of great works from God, and when we submit these visions to the people, they are not received very well.  Many times, these same people, who claim that they are following the same God, feel as though these visions or plans are not in line with what God wants because it doesn’t look like what they believe God would want in their eyes.  As a result, we, the ones who have the vision and are ready to proceed, have to wait on God to touch the hearts and minds of those who stubbornly kick against the pricks and fight against Him.  In waiting, we have to watch God pick apart those who cannot and/or will not fall in line until they get in line, or are permanently removed from the equation.

I thought that going through the struggle was hard, but I find that in walking with God, the hardest thing to do is to watch people suffer, the guilty who won’t move out of God’s way, and the innocent that are damaged collaterally through the link between them and the guilty.  It is hard to see so many people not receive the benefits of ministries that could be taken to the next level because of men and women in leadership positions that stubbornly hold onto “the way things are.”  It is hard to see lackluster performances from people who relentlessly continue to do things the same way year after year, even though the way does not work.  It is hard to see kids feel neglected by church officials because more attention is given to adult ministries than are the youth.  It is hard to have these ideas, concepts, plans, visions, and innovations in our hearts and minds, and yet when spoken out loud to the ones who should help us, they laugh, scoff, and get angered because they can’t see with their eyes what they should be able to see through their faith.

So as I watch the world burn, I pray that God give me enough patience to endure what I have to see, enough kindness and love to see them through the process, and enough faith to know that one way or another, God’s Will shall be done.  And there’s nothing that anyone can do about it.

Many times we expect trials and tribulations to take place in massive waves, grand attacks, and huge obstacles, things that we can anticipate and prepare for.  But God has demonstrated, at least in my life, many times over that it’s not the big stuff that he’s concerned about as much as he is concerned about how I handle the little things, the seeming insignificant things.  I witnessed someone say to me one day that he had asked God to give him a mind to pray before he makes a hasty decision, and then when the opportunity presented itself out of the blue, he failed to see the God in the situation and do what he asked God to give him the opportunity to do.  Thereby, he missed it.  I, too, was presented with an opportunity to understand what it is like to experience peace when someone wants to be at war with me, something I struggle with all the time.  When the opportunity presented itself, rather than sticking to past solutions, which always failed, I tried something different.  I asked God, “What do you want me to do?”  And He showed me that arguing with someome who does not want to hear the truth is not going to produce any Godly results.  So say the facts, and call it a day, knowing that you did not open up a debate.  And doing so gave me the peace that I had wanted to experience, and it felt great.

What am I trying to say?  Most of the time, God does not test us with mega trials that we can prepare for days, weeks, months, or years in advance, like a final exam.  Rather, God tests us with POP QUIZZES, the ones that we have no idea are going to take place, but are a part of the faith curriculum, and count just as much as (if not more than) the exams themselves.  We never know when something is going to come to test the knowledge, wisdom, and faith that we possess.  We never know when our greatest nightmare suddenly comes to pass.  We never know when we’re gonna get cut off by somebody on the road.  We never know when one wrong word is going to spark a heated debate.  We never know when that customer is going to be p’d off because an order was wrong.  We never know when a loved one is going to pass away. We never know when someone is having a bad day.  We never know when miscommunication is going to cause problems.  We never know when God will decide to create a mini-situation that will make us lose our minds.  But we can delight in the fact that we do know that pop quizzes, in whatever form they show up, will, in fact, show up.

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.  1 Peter 4:12-13

And when they show up, they are to prove that the foundation that we have built our faith upon is a sure foundation.

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. f anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.  1 Corinthians 3:9-15

Furthermore, if we pass the pop quizzes, God not only rewards us with blessings, but He also rewards us with more quizzes and tests, knowing that we can handle it, because we passed the quizzes of the past.

His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord…. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance.’  Matthew 25:23, 29

So be as cunning as a fox, and be ever watchful when it comes to the pop quizzes of life.  We should study diligently to show ourselves approved, because we never know when God will pop a quiz upon us.  The danger of being unprepared is that when we are not ready for the quiz, and we have to rely on what we know to pass it, we run the risk of failing every single time because we are not ready.  Ironically, we asked for the quizzes in the first place by receiving salvation.  So we should make sure that we are ready at all times to pass whatever test comes our way, for if we know that they will show up at any given time, we must be prepared at all times, in hopes that we can pass every time.

😀