Chapter Four: Take Two
When I accepted the Lord into my heart, almost two years ago, I had relatively no knowledge of how a genuine relationship with Him worked. Yet, the Holy Spirit was still moving in unreal ways. His work in me was taking flight in ways I had never seen, imagined, or knew would be possible. Change occurred. The best kind. I was so on fire and passionate. I was thirsty for His ways and what He stood for. I had a purpose, a calling, and hope. For months I was learning about God, what He stands for, who He is, my worth in Him, and what He’s done. But then, I thought I had started to receive the answer to my prayer and got carried away. I was so excited about where I was heading that I ran ahead with my own strength. I had no time for training wheels. I wanted to jump on the bike and take off. I started losing sight of what He was trying to instill in me at the time. I believed I could handle most of my life on my own, and God was just a wonderful compliment to what I had already dreamt of. I didn’t hand over all of my life to Him. I had a pretty rough crash after I took off on the bike of my life. I ended up with many broken things, including a spirit. I say this with such sorrow, disappointment, and conviction.
Although I failed in many ways, went through many hardships, and turned away from God, I learned so much. He worked through the bleeding wounds to teach me about Him and about myself. Unfortunately, I think it’s just part of the chronic disease of being human to learn many lessons the difficult way. Often times, we must fall in order to learn how to rise up, and about the one who gives us the strength to do so. I’m not sure where you are in your journey, but I’m sure you can remember a time when you have fallen. When it hurt. When it was embarrassing. When you genuinely thought it was the right thing to pursue. When you bled. When you felt disappointed. When you felt like a failure. When you felt alone. When you felt like God wasn’t talking to you. During our trying seasons, we often focus on the outward aspects of the purpose. For example, you may be looking at your life and thinking: “why am I stuck? Why am I not bearing fruit? Where is my harvest?” Our perspective is fixated on the blessings, but obedience and faith come long before that. Fixate on what God is working on underneath. Focus on the roots of your life. What is He trying grow within you? Why is He grounding or humbling you? Your roots must form in order to grow a healthy, fruit-bearing, and long-living tree.
In some of my most raw prayer moments, I question why God won’t just float down in all of His glory and sit with me. I wonder why I cry out but get no immediate response. Then, the enemy quickly uses that to begin placing doubt in my mind. If He really loves you, then why won’t He just talk to you directly. The best weapon we have against Satan hurling these nasty lies at us is God’s word: Psalm 4:3, 2 Samuel 22, and Isaiah 43:2. These are some scriptures that promise God DOES hear our cries. And He WILL answer. There’s a catch though: He works on His time, in His way. His ways are greater than we can comprehend. He doesn’t owe us the plan. He is working on something far greater than what we can see. He is Kingdom focused, while we are clouded by our human understanding.
My impatience often leads me to operate in fear, rather than faith. I panic when I don’t get an answer the moment I ask a question. I fear He will never answer, even though I know better. I fear waiting on Him. I fear the season of waiting. The middle zone. The in between. The tightrope of faith. I quickly learned that this requires growth, which as we all know, is not an immediate process. And what is an area I definitely need growth in? Funny you should ask. It’s patience. I can be a patient person when I know the plans, or can figure out the next steps. I have patience when I can talk to people directly. But godly patience is another ball game. It’s divine. It has nothing to do with me and everything to do with His mighty hands at work.
Through my recent, desperate digging in the Bible, I have come to find story after story where God calls His people to wait on Him. He tells them not to operate out of fear and to have faith that He will provide, protect, and fulfill promises. But what happens when it seems like you don’t have time to wait for Him? What if your battle is right in front of you? It snuck up just minutes ago and you are already caught in the battle? He is with you in every season, every battle, and every moment. Understand that you CANNOT do this on your own. Pause and invite Him into this distressing moment. Lastly, have faith that He will work all of it out for your good. Please hear this part: It doesn’t mean that you will never face a battle, or that He never lets you go through trials. You will. There has to be something in our lives that brings us down to our knees in front of God.
Before the harvest season, it can be tempting to start doubting that God is not with you and that He won’t provide what He has promised. This is seen in scripture when God takes the children of Israel through the wilderness, in order to test and prepare them. The children of Israel thought God was punishing them, so they became bitter and resentful. Their perspective was focused on the current path and its pain, rather than His promises. How many of us struggle with doing this on a daily basis? I know I do. I focus on my trials instead of Jesus. I focus on my pain instead of His promises. I focus on the love of other people instead of His unfailing, unwavering love for me.
It’s the reason why I am writing this right now. I went through a long period of time where I focused on everything BUT Him. It left me so empty. It left me shattered. I felt like I had nothing. I did have nothing because I wasn’t living with Him. But I am here to tell you that Jesus LOVES redemption, and you! He loves second chances. It’s His thing. If my season of running, hurt, devastation, and failures, led me to a genuine relationship with Him, it was all worth it. It’s part of my purpose. It’s His way of reminding me: “Rachel, you cannot do this on your own. You’ve tried. Remove your tightly gripped hands from the steering wheel and WAIT.”
Through the waiting, I pray, praise, and continue to seek His presence. There have been so many profoundly painful moments, ones where I have no idea what to do other than sing a song to Him. I sing louder and louder, as He fills me with love and joy. I close my eyes and picture Him lifting the weight of life off my shoulders. I can feel Him take away my worries, set them aside, and fill me with His peace. I lift my hands in surrender and reverence to Him. I blare my praises so that the enemy knows I will worship the Lord through this, and after this. I sing to Him because He is worthy. I sing to Him because it is a powerful weapon against everything opposing me. Our obedience, faith, and worship are the only things we can offer to Him. Your type of worship may not be music, perhaps it is reciting scripture in the midst of your daily battles. Perhaps it is serving others. Maybe it’s writing to Him. Maybe it is even sobbing uncontrollably on the floor because of His goodness (I’ve been there and I hope I always have those moments with Him). In whatever specific way you feel led to, thank Him. Praise Him because He is worth the wait.
Our culture is consumed with instant gratification: texting, social media, consumerism, food, and relationships. I will let you in on a lesson I have learned the hard way: anything of true value, is worth waiting for. In Pslam 130:5, it says that we are to count on the Lord and put our hope in His word. Waiting on Him requires recognizing His sovereignty and Lordship, and it is also realizing that you possess neither of those things. We must enter His presence with respect, bowed heads, and lifted hands. He is beyond worthy of our worship and respect. We do all of this while still waiting for Him to answer, to move, and to fulfill promises. Please do not think that this is not a daily choice and, at times, difficult one in the midst of pain and battles. I wrestle with having faith in what I cannot see. I fail to set my eyes above. I fail to put my faith above my feelings.
My journey through learning this, and still trying to apply it daily, has been nothing short of challenging and also beautiful. I will admit, I have struggled with trying to fast forward through the wilderness. But truthfully, I am not ready for the next season. I am in this one for a reason. He is testing my character and faith every single day. Do you feel like you’re being tested? You may be discouraged and afraid of failure. I’ve been there. Faith over fear, my friend. When faith is introduced, fear has no choice but to flee. It doesn’t stand a chance. Pray over your wilderness season every moment you’re in it. Tell Him that you will praise Him while you wait. You will count on Him when you have nothing. You will give everything because He will equip you with everything you need. Although it may take a while, blessings will come. The last month of my life has been the most arduous time, but even in this, the Lord has blessed me with His grace, truth, and joy. He has never stopped holding me. This is my take two. This is my second chance. He was, and is, and is to come. He never stops redeeming. This time, I am waiting.
Wherever you are, whoever you are, whatever you struggle with: you are valuable and precious. If you feel empty, burdened, and lonely, please start telling Him about it. You will not regret it. My journey with Him hasn’t been easy and I don’t ever expect it to be. It’s been painful, it’s been strained, it didn’t exist for a long time, it’s been superficial at times, it’s been challenging, but it’s been oh so worth it! He hasn’t stopped transforming me, and it is incredible to me that He isn’t even close to being done. He has given me something new and beautiful: a second chance. I will wait for Him, His promises, and His instructions. When He says go, I will go. When He says wait, I will wait.