“Lazy people want much but get little. But those who work hard will prosper” – Proverbs 13:4
Is your life everything you dreamed of? Have you allowed your faith to guide your vision? Do you feel like you are working hard and prospering?!
6 years ago, my life was a mess. I was divorced with a young child; I was unfulfilled in my career and had no idea where I was supposed to be. I didn’t know what signs to follow, what feelings to believe, or what work was worthy. I didn’t have vision for life and I certainly didn’t have priorities or believe in the hard work necessary to achieve the big things.
Fast forward to today - I am remarried to an incredibly handsome man and we have three amazing kiddos with a fourth on the way, we love big vision, working hard, and achieving the impossible. Our life is BEAUTIFUL. For me - I am a wife, mother, and daughter to the King. I am also a health and wellness coach in direct sales. I enjoy volunteering with the children’s program at church, meal planning and prepping, Disney, budgeting (for real!), and doing the impossible. My husband and I both work part time from home.
But the process of getting to TODAY was dark, it was messy, and often it was without faith. So… how did we get from there to here? A lot of hard work and some pivotal learning moments. I will share one big thing I learned about BALANCE that I pray may allow you some peace.
When I first started leaning into my faith and following a bigger vision for life, I felt so HURRIED. I had finally gotten over my fear of hard work, but I only felt like I was falling flat on my face. I constantly felt pulled in different directions and never quite felt like I was achieving the things I wanted. The hustle didn’t feel like anymore more than running in place. I was all or nothing in every area of my life and by trying to do it all – and I felt like I was failing at everything. If I was successful in my business, I was sacrificing all my family time, if I was successful in my marriage I didn’t have time for my personal growth, if I took enough time in my faith I didn’t have time to focus on my personal health.
Enter – a phrase that changed everything. At a leadership conference I heard a successful businesswoman giving a struggling mama advice by telling her this: “Balance is myth. There is no such thing. There are only priorities.”
That moment changed my life. Because I realized that although I had priorities in my life - every single one of them was a top priority! In following this bigger vision for my life, I was also trying to orchestrate every single step and balance EVERYTHING. I didn’t follow the Lord’s plan at all and made it truly impossible to get everything done.
I have learned that we cannot be all the things all of the time. We can only be ONE THING at a time.
If you struggle with the hustle, if you struggle with trying to be everything to everyone, if you find yourself trying to BALANCE, if you are trying to follow your faith but map out every single step - I encourage you to stop. Slow down, sit down, reflect, and figure out your priorities.
Here are some simple steps I take to ensure my days and my time are aligned with a bigger vision in our life:
Every day you have the power to decide your priorities. You can work hard and create the biggest vision for your life. Your priorities will be different every day – and it will be ever changing because this is real life – and real life can be chaotic. I pray that you can lay down the burden of trying to balance life and enjoy the work without that struggle.
And please know this … the big vision the Lord has laid on your heart – YOU CAN DO IT. You can accomplish anything. Don’t be afraid of the hustle. Don’t fear the vision. Embrace it all with it your conscious priorities. Believe that your hard work will be rewarded and that you can achieve everything you desire.
SONG: You're Gonna Be Okay by Brian and Jenn Johnson
Cricket Mansour, Wife, Mother, and Health & Wellness Coach
“Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, when the Lord has not commanded it?”
Lamentations 3:37 (NKJV)
It comes as no surprise to any of us that the world is hurting right now and in desperate need of healing. We don’t have to look very far (perhaps, not even past the mirror) to find someone who is longing for physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual healing.
Pain comes in many different forms and thus, healing can take on many different forms. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to focus on emotional pain. It’s important not to compare any one person’s pain to another’s. Pain is relative and when we compare, we can fall into a trap of judging others and/or isolating ourselves out of shame and fear of rejection. There is no such thing as “pain olympics.”
Prior to my senior year of college, I had lived a pretty fortunate, “normal,” and trauma-free existence. My entire world was rocked on April 16, 2007, when my school, Virginia Tech, experienced one of the largest mass-shootings of our country’s history. I was a senior, looking forward to graduation that was set to take place less than a month later. While I was fortunate to not be on-campus at the time of the shooting, the psychological ramifications are something that I still find myself having to work through at times...almost 13 years later.
I want to share some things that have helped me in my process of healing from this trauma.
1. Learning to recognize and cling onto God’s sovereignty. Now, just to be clear, I am not listing this first because it was something that came easily to me. In fact, quite the contrary. This was probably one of the later lessons I learned (and am still learning), but it feels like one of, if not the, most important lessons for me. Just last Sunday at church, I was reminded again of one of my favorite verses: “Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, when the Lord has not commanded it?” (Lamentations 3:37). This verse is one that my priest often shared with me when I was in the throes of working through the trauma. It reminded me of the fact that God is truly “The Controller of All.” While that’s not at all to say that He caused the shooting to happen, He was still there in the middle of it and was and is ultimately still in control. Of my life. Of my pain. Of everything. And so, even if I experience pain, I can still trust that I am securely tucked away into the palm of His hand. And I can finally say that I would rather live a life that is marred by some pain, but being in my Daddy’s hands, as opposed to a pain-free life (which we all know isn’t possible, anyway) away from Him.
Another nugget I loved from the message at church this past Sunday pertaining to the sovereignty of God that also brought me peace was this: “God doesn’t have to swoop in to save us, because He never stopped holding us.” Praise God for His sovereignty and the fact that He didn’t just create us and then leave us to fend for ourselves!
2. Being honest with myself (and with others) about my thoughts and feelings. Pain sometimes has a way of making us feel very isolated and alone. We convince ourselves that no one else could possibly understand our struggle, and so, we hide. We may hide because we are judging ourselves for being “stuck” (i.e., “Why have I not gotten over this yet? It’s been X amount of time!”) and worry that others will also judge us. And the unfortunate reality is that sometimes other people will. However, it’s important to first acknowledge what we are feeling and then share it with someone we know loves and supports us, no matter what. That could be a family member, a friend, a spiritual mentor, a therapist (more on that, later). Sometimes when we judge ourselves for our emotions, we end up keeping ourselves stuck. I know it seems anti-intuitive because as humans, we immediately try to push away any painful emotions, at just about any cost. However, we find that when we can simply notice the emotions, without judging them or trying to push them away, they end up passing more quickly on their own.
3. Being honest with God about my emotions. So here’s another one that took me some time to learn. I was okay sharing my pain with God, until it turned into some anger toward Him. Then it all of a sudden felt like I had to hide from Him because being angry at Him felt so wrong. However, my priest also encouraged me to take all of my emotions to God, not just the “safe” ones. He reminded me that God is relational and He loves me unconditionally and wants an intimate relationship with me. If I’m angry at a family member or friend and don’t address it, it will put a wedge in our relationship. Same thing with God. I will admit, I felt a lot of healing from finally being willing to share ALL of my emotions with God.
4. Seek professional help. I’m a clinical psychologist, so you may think I’m “paid” to say this, but I’m not. I’m speaking not just as a psychologist, but as someone who also sought therapy to work through my trauma. Therapy doesn’t mean that something is “seriously wrong” or that you are in “crisis” or that you are “crazy.” I wish I could fully articulate the blessing that therapy was for me. It helped me work through my trauma in a healthy way and taught me so much about myself. And honestly, when I learn more about myself, it also helps me align myself with how Christ views me. And that type of healing then extends to how I see others (and how HE sees others)! So really, it’s a win-win!
If you are experiencing pain, of any kind, I hope that you will reach out to someone you trust. And reach out to God - you don’t even need to have the words, just a simple, “Jesus, help me!” is all it takes.
Sylvia Hanna, Clinical Psychologist, Skincare Consultant
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
We all know the popular cliché, “you are what you eat.” Most people hear that and think food. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that thrives off of junk food and industries making money off of supersized burgers and Sour Patch Kids cereal (yes, that’s a thing, I freaked out, too, when I saw it on the shelves). For the most part, we know that when we choose to eat junk food, we won’t feel good. Our organs start to fail, endurance decreases and energy will start to trickle away until we are left feeling drained and empty. Bad fuel = a car that won’t start.
When I hear that phrase, I also think of it in the spiritual context, “you are what you spiritually eat.” If you choose to consume negativity, hours of Netflix and comparison traps on Instagram, the same thing happens. Our hearts grow weary, energy to trust God declines and our endurance to hold on to hope start to trickle away. We are left feeling drained, again, but this time of good spiritual food.
These two areas of wellness are so tied together, a package deal really. You cannot have one without the other. In the bible, an analogy is given that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and we are to honor God with our bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, NIV). Scripture doesn’t just say our bodies are temples, but they are temples OF the Holy Spirit, meaning we hold God inside of us each day. We are chosen to carry the Holy Spirit each day, so what happens if we aren’t feeding our souls in the right way?
Scripture goes on to say our bodies are not our own, that we were bought at a price, and so we are to honor God with our bodies. I read that and realize that when we don’t take care of our physical body, we are refusing to value something that is God’s possession. When we choose to not take care of it, we are choosing to not take care of something that belongs to God. Throughout history, temples have always been built with purpose and created to be a place of beauty where people can come to worship. Temples should be well taken care of, as they are a dwelling place for God to move. What if we saw our earthly bodies in the same lens? What if we consistently valued our body enough to give it the proper nutritional fuel and care it deserved?
God pulled back the curtain on this concept of physical and spiritual wellness about 4 years ago during graduate school. My life in grad school looked something like a juggler at a circus. Dozens of colored balls traveling in a circle, labeled as “straight A’s, volunteer, work, student teach, relationships, sleep, time with God, physical health.” Unfortunately, the “time with God” and “physical health” balls often bounced right out of my juggling routine.
I am not sure when the switch happened, but at some point I realized that I would not be successful post-grad if I didn’t get my physical health and spiritual walk in check. I felt like God was pushing me towards complete obedience in wellness. While I wasn’t totally sure what that was going to look like, I knew that I need to make room for God to show me how to properly take care of my physical body and make room for him to speak to me about what it meant to live deeply with Him each day.
Let me be clear in saying this was not an overnight transformation. Even 4 years later, this blend of physical and spiritual wellness is still something that I have to often submit back to the Lord to ensure I am still walking in obedience. However, that idea of “you are what you eat” could not be more accurate. I work as a health coach now (in addition to teaching) and my main focus is ensuring my clients can learn the importance of prioritizing those areas of wellness to see maximum progress. When we eat well and exercise every day, the brain functions better, metabolism and organs work efficiently, we have more energy and we are actively reducing our risk of chronic diseases. When we spiritually eat well, I believe we reap similar benefits: greater brain functioning reaps greater discernment, increased physical endurance leads to increased spiritual endurance for hardships, and heightened energy for our day-to-day activities heightens greater energy in believing God is working victories in our life. When our body is well, our soul is also well, too.
I want to leave you with a few healthy habits that I have implemented over the years that keep my temple physically and spiritually well each day.
Remember, God has IMMENSE GRACE for us. There is not an expectation to have perfect nutrition and never watch Netflix again. There is power in conviction for areas of your life that aren’t being fed in the right way, so take it just as that. God doesn’t want you to make room for condemnation, just room for you to treat your temple well and place God at the middle of your health so you can reap an amazing harvest.
Written by: Tori Fantasia, Health & PE Teacher, Wellness Coach
Song: Make Room by Jonathan McReynolds
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
“The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8 NLT
Though not physically tangible in and of itself, I’ve noticed that most people hold on dearly to hope. When we are hopeful about a situation, we are always talking about it. We are dreaming and we hold whatever precious thing near to our heart. We cling to it.
But what happens when your situation, your testimony, the order of life events, the sudden lack of faith or vision, the unanswered prayers, the doubt or the fatigue in believing for something for so long eats away at that hope you once held so tangibly to?
What do you do when you feel there’s nothing left to hope for?
Recently, I’ve been going through chemotherapy. It is currently one of the most enduring times I have ever experienced. It literally takes strength to get up every day. Though rough, every single day since starting my chemotherapy journey on January 8th, I’ve heard the song, “Never Lost” by All Nations. It has rung through my head when I wake up, when I’m in pain, when I feel like worshipping God, or when I feel like yelling at God because I have no idea why this is happening to me in the first place.
I love the lyrics because they ring true to God’s character in that He has never lost a battle before and He never will. That’s most of the song on repeat. It’s a reminder that God does not lose.
That has been my hope I hold on to when I feel like I can’t go on anymore - that God has a perfect score of winning ALL battles (big or small) and that He’ll never lose. That is what I sink my hook of hope into.
My encouragement to you is to guard your hope. Guard it like it is one of the most sacred jewels in your jewelry box protected by armor. If the enemy can snatch away your hope, it will take your perspective off of God and then you’ll walk around feeling defeated. A defeated, downcast life is not one that God has for us!
So, what do you do when you feel like there’s nothing left to hope for?
Written by: Roneka Spady, Every Nation Campus Minister, Divine Unity Community Church
Song: Never Lost by All Nations
Scripture: Isaiah 40:8 NLT
They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.” But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” Nehemiah 6:9
While Nehemiah served as a cupbearer for a king, he was informed that his home, hundreds of miles away in Jerusalem, had been destroyed. The walls that protected the city were demolished and the gates had been burned down. Immediately, Nehemiah wept, prayed, and fasted before God. A burden for his people weighed on him, and he was granted favor with God to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem. The king released him to return back home, and he provided Nehemiah with an army of protection and other resources for the journey. Nehemiah left the comfort of the palace to fulfill a mission God placed on his heart. What I love about this story is God’s favor and provision over Nehemiah. When God calls us to fulfill a purpose, He will provide everything we need to complete it. In Jerusalem, Nehemiah recruit other men with a shared vision to help him rebuild. God gives him strategy and a team to restore the wall and protect the city.
Now, we all know that we have an adversary who doesn’t like to see God’s plan unfold. The enemy will try to stop us when we decide to live on mission, and we see that all throughout the book of Nehemiah. Three men, Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem, repeatedly try to interfere with the rebuilding of the wall. The used countless tactics to get him to come down from the wall. They mocked him, circulated slander, conspired to kill him, and other unrighteous ploys to distract him. But Nehemiah was a righteous man who knew God and obeyed His word. He knew God’s plan was a plan that could not be ignored nor abandoned. Throughout all of the attacks the enemy threw at Nehemiah, God gave him discernment, wisdom, and strength to withstand and fight against their schemes. Nehemiah did not lose focus of his mission despite the fiery darts that tried to take him out. The hurtful words and deception of Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem did not prevail, and the wall was rebuilt! Don’t let the enemy pull you down from your wall!
What is your “wall”? What burden has God placed on your heart to fix, resolve, or restore? Who are your “haters” (Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem) that keeps you from building? Whose lies are you believing about your calling? If you notice in the reading, Nehemiah never stopped what he was doing to correct or challenge what people were saying about him -- even when they were lying. He stayed focused. He didn’t write a passive aggressive post on Facebook, go moan and complain to a friend, or blast Taylor Swift’s song “Haters Gonna Hate” while secretly plotting his revenge. He was not frightened or anxious. He stayed the course. He drew near to God and prayed for strength. He unceasingly labored and gave his everything to something bigger than himself. In the end, the enemy was defeated.
The next time someone tries to pull you down will you respond by asking God for strength to continue the mission or will you react emotionally and take matters into your own hands?
They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.” But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” Nehemiah 6:9
I’m not sure who needs to hear this, but I pray your eyes are open to the enemy’s attempt to pull you down from what God has called you to do! May your heart be fully submitted and yielded to God’s will. He will use you to accomplish His great works. You are needed, my friend. You are not discredited from the divine assignment no matter what your friends or family tell you. When you face opposition, I urge you to stay posted on the wall. Do the work God’s called you to do!
Song: "See A Victory" | Elevation Worship
Let us seize and hold tightly the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is reliable and trustworthy and faithful [to His word] Hebrews 10:23 AMP
The week of my 31st birthday, I allowed disappointment to steal my joy, celebration, and belief in God. My mind was clouded with negative thoughts like “You are still alone. You were supposed to be married by now. Your hopes and desires aren’t going to come true. Can you trust God?” These thoughts were seeds to emotional turmoil I felt for three straight days. I was believing the enemy’s lies about the things I was seeing externally; not understanding the pronounced impact those beliefs were having on me inside.
Romans 8:5-6 says Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. God revealed to me that my mind was set on things of the flesh -- my earthly desires and expectations -- not God’s goodness and faithfulness. It led to feeling a great deal of disappointment --“ sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one's hopes or expectations”. My disappointment was birthed by the realization that my desires, His promises, and the prophetic words over my life had not happened when I had expected them to; specifically, the desires of marriage and motherhood. I mourned the unmet expectations of my life, and admittedly, I briefly lost hope.
We often have to wait on the Lord for things we long to see happen in life. I am still praying for the salvation of family members, freedom in my finances, and of course, some hard rock abs and chiseled arms. But when disappointment accompanies us in life’s waiting room -- it can be a dark place. If we hold too tightly to our expectations (especially in long periods of waiting), we will lose sight of GOD and only see empty rooms and closed doors. Our hearts can become heavy with the void instead of full of hope in Him.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14
Perhaps, you have been where I was just last week. There is something you are longing for, there’s a character trait you are hoping to develop, or a sin pattern you are wanting to break; and the lack of those desires has brought you into despair, displeasure, or the mourning of hopes. It has brought you into a DEEP moment of UNBELIEF. Your foundation is no longer God’s truth, but in your unbelief in His truths. When disappointment doesn’t act solely as an emotional compass to notify our head and heart of where we are emotionally -- it can easily become an endless stream of deception.
Disappointment deceives us when any one of these six statements below becomes our truth. I encourage you to break agreement with and repent from the sins associated with these beliefs.
I have not perfected the ability to continuously align my beliefs and thoughts to God’s, but thankfully, I was able to recognize the enemy’s influence and my own participation in these deceptive thoughts. As a result, the Lord revealed to me key truths that helped me to remove the distraction of disappointment.
The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. Hebrews 11:1 (MSG)
You will always be disappointed when your desires and expectations are outside of God’s will for your life. When your foundation is in Him, you will remain true to His promises, His timing, His desires, and His truth. His ways are far better than our own. He has not given up on you, so don’t give up on Him! Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
No other time in my life have I been this convinced that His promises for my life are still true. In the meantime, I will do my very best to focus on my assignment and live a purpose-filled life. I refuse to be distracted any longer -- I hope you will, too.
Song: Prophesy Your Promise by Bryan and Katie Torwalt
See a list of scriptures to meditate on when feeling disappointed
God will reveal our areas of brokenness and bruises in order for us to live in wholeness and spiritual wellness. He desires is to heal us and lead us to His way everlasting. Exposing places of hurt is painful, but it is in the place of exposure where God comforts us and receive healing.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds [healing their pain and comforting their sorrow]. Psalm 147:3 AMP
When you are finally able to look in the past and see the broken pieces as stepping-stones towards a greater way of living - your heart will feel lighter, your mind clearer, and your spirit stronger. When you are moving forward through the hurt and disappointment, and into the depths of joy and healing - your laughs become more frequent, smiles more radiant, and love for life deeper. When you can pray to God and say "Here I am, Lord. I am Yours, and all I need is Your love, Your acceptance, Your friendship, Your approval, Your affection, Your strength" …and you truly believe this with every ounce of your soul - then you've won.
Some of us have been buried in our broken pieces for so long that we’ve lost sight of God’s word. The promise of healing becomes this distant hope. Friends, I pray you find HOPE again. I pray you BELIEVE again. Healing is your birthright as a child of God, and the truth is GOD DESIRES YOU TO BE HEALED! He sent His son to bind up the broken hearted. That’s you and me. Your wounds are not too deep for a God who loves you deeply.
“Beloved, I will strengthen you and I will help you. I determine the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Like I care for the stars, I care for you. Step aside and allow me to put the pieces back together. I am here and healing will be yours. Simply put, I love you - brokenness and all.” Your Heavenly Father
Psalm 23 informs us that Jesus is our shepherd -- a reference to John chapter 10 when it says He is the good shepherd and we are His sheep. This Psalm affirms the loving actions of Christ, our Shepherd.
At my previous church, the pastor would literally pour anointing oil on our foreheads during altar call. I would leave the altar not knowing what to do! Is it disrespectful to rub it off? …Because I’m pretty sure it’s about to run all the way down to my cheekbones. Although, it can be a comical thing to imagine (for me - I’ll admit), I wish I had the reverence for this spiritual practice back then like I do now.
A basic definition of anoint is to smear or rub. Real sheep herders or shepherds actually do this with their flocks. They smear this remedy of oil over the sheep’s heads in order to keep bugs from crawling into their ears which would severely harm the animal. Without this oil, the sheep would be defenseless to pests and insects. So, the oil would act like a repellent. Jesus knows we need a heavenly repellent in our lives to keep away the demonic pests from around us! Shepherds protect their sheep from the big bad wolves that we can clearly see, down to the tiniest pests that our eyes and spiritual sensitivity may miss.
And with this, I heard the Lord say, “I have sent you a Good Shepherd. He is always right there by your side, tending to your needs, and in Him you lack nothing. He protects you from the biggest of threats to the smallest of infections. Some of you can get too focused on the BIG problems that the small flies of your lives can often go unnoticed. Pesky things like your anger, negative self-talk, or response to hurt. These things can plant seeds in your ear like shame, doubt, worry, and fear -- causing spiritual complications. But I am here to protect you from all of it! You are safe and secure. I anoint your head with my holy oil because, beloved, I care for My sheep. Now, you may be a little greasy and shiny afterwards, but you are divinely marked with My hedge of protection. I will be your defense and I will fight for you. You need only to be still and rest with Me.” (Psalm 23, Exodus 14:14)
Picture Jesus right now squatting away the enemy’s plans like flies! Picture Jesus pouring oil over you in an act of protection. Perhaps, you know exactly what lies and attacks you’ve tried to protect yourself against. Open your hands, surrender your control, and give yourself permission to be cared for by the Good Shepherd.
1 A Psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
I’m standing on the sidewalk of a busy street with cars racing back and forth. I’m stuck in both fear and anger as my god son defiantly walks into the busy street. As I roar over the noise of the cars, “Come back over here right now!” using the best authoritarian-auntie voice I could, he stops, looks at me with this look that’s both innocent and mischievous, then turns and continues to walk to the other side of the road. Prayfully, he makes it to the other side without getting run over.
Frustrated, I run down the sidewalk and wait for the sea of moving cars to no longer be a barrier between us. I cross the street already contemplating in my mind how I’d take advantage of the spanking…I mean “discipline” privileges his parents allotted me. I pull him up close to me really quickly, grip his dark blue hoodie, kneel down until my eyes meet his, and begin to express my concern for his rebellious acts -- using only my words. I forfeited my spanking privileges and decided that a strong talking-to, cased in loving words, were most appropriate for this four-year-old.
Seconds later, I wake up from this dream. I laid in bed recalling the intricate and vivid scenes of the night, and unsurprisingly, my Heavenly Father spoke to me about this particular dream involving my rebellious god son.
And the Lord said,
“Indeed, my dear child, this is you. Recently, you have been trying to avoid Me calling after you. You have attempted to hide in the busyness of your life and responsibilities thinking the noise would drown out My calling. You know full well that you are running away in disobedience, and yet fear propels you further away from My reach. My child, my eyes will always be fixed on you; ensuring your safety and care regardless of your stubbornness. I will be right there to snatch you up and bring you into my presence. I will meet you where you are. For you have been called specifically for My mission. I love you too much not to pursue you even as you run in the opposite direction of your purpose, place, and position. Will you stop running? Will you hide in my everlasting, relentless love? I will be waiting. Love, Your Heavenly Father.”
As I reflected on His words so graciously spoken over me, I became overwhelmed by His perfect heart that calls to me and speaks security and love over me. I will be the first to admit that I have run away from a few assignments the Lord’s placed in my path – or at least I have tried. For me, I typically ignore him and distract myself with work and busyness. Can anyone else relate? I often use the excuse that I am doing for God already. Why, how, or when will I be able to add in this “extra” assignment. Ha! Like He really NEEDS me to do anything. And yet, He calls me anyway.
God pursues us so fervently despite the fact that we may, and oftentimes do, disobey Him. He calls us to partner with Him – to be His hands and feet. Not because He needs us, but because He wants us. Because He knows what’s good for us. This is His character. He is father, and no matter how much we kick, scream, slam doors, pout, or pretend we don’t hear Him, He will always be there – prepared to shower us with forgiveness, courage, and reassurance. The Lord is ready and willing to always take us back. Are you done running?
Hebrews 3:18-19 says, “And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So, we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.”
It was very clear I had been a rebel and thankfully God would not allow it! I avoided His invitation to share my writing publicly for years. I hid in the lies that it wouldn’t be good enough and no one would want to hear anything I had to say. I convinced myself that any wisdom God wanted me pour into others through a public platform was already being communicated to people by another committed Christian. Why repeat? What difference would it make coming from me? What could I add to the world that isn’t already being provided? These thoughts produced fear, doubt, and unbelief; so, I ignored God’s call to act. I was disobedient and I realized it was because I didn’t believe God would do what He said He could. I, unfortunately, made an agreement with unbelief.
What assignment, mission, or directive has God given you? Where have you allowed unbelief to settle in?
The seed of disobedience is unbelief and the fruit of disobedience is separation from our Father. When we fail to honor God with our compliance and submission, we create distance between ourselves and the trinity. We slowly lose sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s counsel, Jesus’s voice becomes more and more faint, and God’s presence is less and less tangible. We mustn’t allow ourselves to hide in the current responsibilities of our lives thinking, “Well, God. Aren’t I already doing enough?!” We mustn’t allow pride or fear to steal our belief in His power to complete the work He began in us.
Is that calling too big for you? Absolutely! Are you really ill-equipped for this new promotion? Perhaps! Will you make some of the same mistakes your mother did as a parent? Quite possibly! But how amazing and glorious is it that He doesn’t call the qualified but qualifies the called! He is doing the work. We are His vessels! Bless the Lord that we have a Father in Heaven who desires us to participate in His plans, and guess what? He’s going to do the work through you!
Will you just take the small step toward obedience as I did and trust Him? Be humbled that He not only desires to use you, but He will equip you each and every step of the way. All He calls you to do is walk. Take that first step. Sure, go kicking and screaming. You can go palms sweaty, knees weak, and arms heavy. Just go. Your Father is waiting.
My prayer for you is that He facilitates an opportunity to speak to you concerning your call to action. For me, He speaks to me through dreams. For you, it may be through a scripture, a mentor, a sermon, or conviction by the Holy Spirit. Listen for Him. Seek Him. Remove the distractions that keep you from being still long enough to know His voice. If you’re one of those children of God who tells Him “no” a lot, I pray He will give you a new heart and new spirit; removing the spirit of disobedience and giving you a heart that is responsive to His call. A heart that says yes even when you don’t see the whole puzzle. And personally, the best way I knew to accomplish such a task is to ABIDE. For I cannot bear fruit in and of myself unless I am connected to the True Vine…and neither can you.
Some of you are right at the edge of a breakthrough and answered prayer. You’ve experienced long periods of resistance, and have come up against hardships, challenges, and struggles. You decided to keep going, but then resistance became a secondary antagonist to the weariness covering you. And it’s right there, in dark exhaustion, you would want to stop, quit, and slack off; refusing to move through the force that’s pushing back at you -- but you mustn’t! You have to keep pushing!
Joseph, the son of Jacob, was betrayed by his brothers, thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, falsely accused, taken to prison, and then forgotten. For thirteen years, Joseph experienced a unique dichotomy between suffering and favor. Even in his hardships and bondage, he was graced with relief through God’s repeated favor. But the relief wasn’t the resolve.
The resolve is in the breakthrough.
When Pharaoh appointed him as a ruler over Egypt, he was no longer enslaved. He was appointed and anointed the second in command to Pharaoh. It was that very moment was Joseph’s rightful breakthrough. (Genesis Chapters 37-45)
I believe the Lord is saying that some of you are experiencing the pitfalls of life, and throughout your journey there have been some breaks of relief (God’s favor). But then you find yourself right back enthralled by life’s circumstances. You are currently at the point where you may not be experiencing any pause. Lately, there hasn’t been any Joseph moments of becoming a head officer of the king’s home or chief jailer in Pharaoh’s prison. And it’s right there, in the dark exhaustion, you would want to give up. The Lord is saying DON’T! Your breakthrough is right around the corner. Do not settle for the breaks or pauses. For in My proper time, I will break the veil of adversity on your behalf. I have anointed and appointed you to be more than a chief or an officer. I am bringing you RESOLVE.
My friends, if this is your season of pushing through, you may be at the very last leg of the race. Whenever you feel resistance, push back and keep going. We often throw in the towel too soon; not knowing that we’ve almost arrived. You are almost there. Don’t give up!
“So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up or quit.” Galatians 6:9 MSG