Except the Lord Build the House
After Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus, he spent an estimated ten years preparing for the ministry that God had for him. Paul, a highly learned religious man, knew the scriptures from his childhood so these years must have been spent learning something other than the laws and commandments. For him to be an effective minister to the body of Christ, he needed to be taught by the Holy Spirit...to walk in the wisdom of God in applying all that he knew, to the heart of God and the will of God. He learned about God's love during this time, he learned about hearing God's voice and he grew in wisdom.
So often, after we receive the Lord as our Savior, our zeal for and love of the Lord makes us want to be telling everyone about God. And there's nothing wrong with this - it's a fire that many longtime Christian's need to have lit in their lives. But, a common mistake is one of expecting to be used of the Lord in a leadership capacity - to want to get immediately into the position of fulfilling our ministry gifts to others. We want to be touching as many lives as possible to share the good news with others, but few of us want to yield to His perfect timing for the accomplishment of this. This is why so many Christian's, whose lives were once full of great joy, get discouraged and eventually give up. God's word tells us that our faith needs to be established - "precept upon precept, line upon line." Is 28:10
In our instant gratification society, where we can satisfy most of our desires seemingly so quickly and easily, we tend to expect the same results in our spiritual lives. But the knowledge of what God's will is for your life is just the beginning. You must learn the wisdom and have the understanding from God to carry it out. And in these times of monumental changes in our world, we are each facing critical decisions. If ever there was a time for us to KNOW God's will and purpose for our lives, it's now! Colossians 1:9-11 is a wonderful prayer from God's Word that each of us should be praying for ourselves, our family, our church and our nation, everyday.
This is such a powerful prayer - just meditate on each word in it, for it is full of great truth, victory and world overcoming help! In these wonderful days that we are living in, as we are experiencing God's pouring out His spirit upon us, upon our sons and our daughters, we need to be walking closer to God than ever before. God is changing so many things, and shaking so many earthly foundations...lining everything up for the greatest outpouring of His Spirit that the world has ever known. If there ever was a time when we needed to keep up, it's now! We must each know God's perfect plan for our lives - and not just know what that plan is, but we must know HOW to carry it out. For this is where most of our failures come from, in our trying to carry out God's will and plan in the limits of our human abilities. We often times really mess things up because we get a glimpse of what God has for us and run full speed ahead to work out all the details ourselves. Maybe it will take 11 years of preparation, like it did for Paul. Or maybe it will take fewer. But the time is not what is important - and this is SO HARD for us to accept! God does not place the same value in INSTANT results that we do. Patience is one of the fruits of the Spirit and, as the Holy Spirit inspired prayer of Colossians ends, it is with the request for patience and long-suffering. I hate to suffer - but I especially hate to suffer long! If God instructs us to pray for this, then we must obey and yield to the truth that it might be awhile until we see the full manifestation of His promise completed in our lives. But praise God! He is there with us each and every moment, and wants to fill this time of long-suffering with "joyfulness"!
To wait upon Him and to rest in His presence! To be taught by the great teacher, which is the Holy Spirit, so that we can face the future with surety and security. There is no greater joy! There is no better way of waiting and learning patience! Isn't that just like our loving Father, even as He is teaching us and training us, He is providing joyfulness at the same time! The word of the Lord came to me saying "you question the length of days and timing in this situation, yet I say to you that it is only for a short while that you bear this burden and you will one day proclaim that it was worth the wait." I believe that!! God is faithful and He will be faithful to fill my life and your life with all the joy, fulfillment and satisfaction that we desire. Does this mean that we sit idly by and do nothing? Waiting does not mean inactivity...it means an ACTIVE trust in our loving heavenly Father who does all things well! To "Wait upon the Lord...to renew our strength, to mount up with wings as eagles." (Is 40:31) And eagles spend a lot of time soaring! That's what our loving Heavenly Father has provided for each of us - His Holy Spirit that lifts up our wings in strength and power, to allow the wind to carry us high above adversity, so that we are so close to the Father, that the trouble we have left behind is just a mere speck as we look down. The wind that so many of us battle, the "storms of life" do not need to be our downfall. Instead we can allow the Lord to maximize their affect and to use those winds to send us sailing to the Father's arm's. One day very soon, I expect to stand before my adversaries and say as Joseph did, (Gen 50:20) "What you intended for evil, my Father has turned to good!"
Daily spend time growing in the Lord. And do not fear. It is not a long time until the harvest comes. God wants to release you from your weariness and your wondering, to bring you into new life - new refreshing - newness as LIFE comes forth. For first there comes the blade, then the ear and then the corn. The accomplishment of God's will and plan for our lives is a process. It calls for us to labor with Him in sowing (which is the seed of His Word) that we will partake of the abundant harvest. Learn to rest in Him. Rest on Him. Let Him supply all your needs, for He wants to!
Most often, this involves a drastic act of submission to the Lord. To truly turn your life over to Him and to trust in Him to perfect everything that concerns us. For me this choice came during my darkest hour...at the time when I despaired of life itself. Psalm 88 from the New International version expresses my feelings so accurately. "O Lord, the God who saves me; day and night I cry out to You. May my prayer come before You; turn your ear to my cry. For my soul is full of trouble and my life draws near to the grave. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like a man without strength. I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom You remember no more, who are cut off from Your care...You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them. I am confined and cannot escape, my eyes are dim with grief. I call to You, O Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to You...I cry to You, for help, O Lord! In the morning my prayer comes before You. WHY O LORD, do you REJECT me and hide Your face from me? From my youth I have been afflicted and close to death; I have suffered and am in despair...all day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me. You have taken my companion and loved ones from me. The darkness is my closest friend."
I still cannot read this Psalm without crying, not for me, but because I can remember the intense pain and earnestness of heart, as I cried out to God for help during this time of suffering, with the knowledge that today there are so many beautiful Christian brothers and sisters who are right now praying prayers like this. May it help to know that I am praying for you!
Seven months after my husband left our family, on Mother's Day 1989, I gave birth to a beautiful little girl. I'd always considered this baby my special gift from God - His promise of brighter tomorrow's; a precious blooming flower when life as I knew it was as death. I almost named her Grace, because it was my protection of this baby inside of me that had been my inspiration to go on. I had not allowed myself the temptation to collapse because of my concern for her. Yet, after Katie's birth, at a time of great emotional & physical changes in my body and mind; in the weariness of the past 9 months; and in the never ending but worsening battle; I got hit with a tidal wave of hopelessness that was just too much for me. All the pain of Mark's betrayal and rejection, all the lies and the proud boasting, all the consequences of being alone - a single, unemployed mom; Life just wasn't being very fair or very nice! I had requested that Mark be there for Katie's birth, not as my birth coach, but for his and his daughters' sake. But he still denied that the baby was his - (he tried to keep the truth from his mistress, that he had been sleeping with both of us) - and ignored my plea for his involvement; My attorney filed a motion in court without even consulting with me about it; I was experiencing an abnormal weight loss of nearly 10 lb. a day that eventually took me down to what I weighed in high school; Mark's insult's towards me became more and more bitter; the Pastor's wife stopped by the hospital to tell me that Mark had been at church, telling everyone the vital statistics of his new daughter - receiving the praises and congratulations, yet these 'friends' never came to the hospital to see me...except for one-and she came only to tell me how "heartbroken Mark was because I would not allow him to see his baby." She was very upset at me for being so "mean to him". After she left, I cried and could not stop crying. Even after I left the hospital with Katie, the tears would not stop once I was alone. No one came to see us - no one offered to help. I felt so totally alone.
I began to question my ability to care for these three little children. Katie developed bad jaundice and was re-admitted to the hospital. It was there that it dawned on me that this baby didn't need me anymore, as the nurses provided for her every need. The deceiver came and told me that there would always be others who could take my place. I stumbled through the next few days feeling overwhelmed and numb. That next Sunday I took my new baby, Winston and Whitney and went to church. Katie fussed during the service, so I took her out. There was Mark, walking down an otherwise empty hall towards us - but he passed by us without acknowledging us. He'd never seen his new daughter and it was a painful realization that his tearful scene the previous Sunday was a show, to gain him sympathy and designed to make me look like a selfish and inconsiderate person. I went home and cried all day and night in complete despair. I called out to God, but I could not hear, feel or see Him. With hot, angry tears flooding down my face and a heart that was broken, not just from the loss of my husband, but now the loss I sensed from God as well, I opened my Bible and stood before God. I sobbed out these words to Him." this (bible) is nothing but a book of empty promises and pretty poetry! You have no intention of doing anything You have said! You promised me that You would never leave me and you would never forsake me, but You have! You are a liar and I want nothing to do with You ever again! You said that You would never allow me more than what I could bear and You've pushed me too far. I can't bear it any longer and I want to die. I know that You are God, but You don't care about me. you could help me but You won't!" I threw the Bible across the room and fell to the floor in complete and utter despair. My grief and burdens had overwhelmed me. (And like David when he wrote Ps 88 - I too mistakenly blamed God for all my troubles!)
And like the Psalmist, I too cried "O that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Yes, I would wander far away, I would lodge in the wilderness...I would escape and find me a shelter from the stormy wind and tempest!" Ps 55:6-8
It was at this time that the Lord reached down from above and took me away from the storm. He gathered my broken spirit up in understanding and great love and took me from my strong enemy (the lies and deceits of satan) He delivered me from those who hated me, for they were too strong for me. They confronted me in my day of calamity, but the Lord was my support. He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me.
Isn't this just like our God - at a time when He could have reacted to my anger and fierce words of accusation by withdrawing His hand to help, He made His presence known to me because He knew that I was saying these things in the weakness of my flesh. God began to reveal His leading and guiding me, even when I seemed to be completely lost. It was at this point that I had to lay down my life - lay down the weight of being a single mom - lay down the weight of all the cares, worries and problems, and give them all to Him. I had to give Him my children and my husband and all my earthly goods. I gave up all my control - all my rights. I repented to God for making these things priority over Him. I knew that if I never saw or had any of them ever again, it would not be the end of the world and that God would get me through. I had come to the place where my life was not my own any more. My choice was made! I spent the next three weeks alone - waiting on God, learning from His Word, listening for His voice and following it. Even obeying in the little impressions that didn't make sense.
This was the time of refining for me. This was the time of realizing that if I couldn't trust God, then I wouldn't serve Him any longer. But if I were going to serve Him - I was going to trust Him 100%! The Lord also brought me great refreshing and healed me, spirit, soul and body. He truly did change and renew my strength! It wasn't especially easy - the worries, fears and doubts attacked me. But I had taken shelter under the shadow of His wing and now it was His place to protect me, to lead me and to guide me.
I believe there comes a time when we have to take a stand of faith - when we finalize that decision that God is who He says He is - that He will do everything that He says He will do and that we are everything that He says we are. Until we reach this point we are always going to waiver in our beliefs of God. Trust in God cannot be unsettled or wavering, for if it is, then Satan always will have an easy target to attack our faith. I encourage you to ask the Lord to search your heart and reveal any area where you might be holding back something or someone that is dear to you. Our trust in God must be willing to have no limits. There are reasons that we will never know, for all the things God does. That is what trusting in Him is all about. Having faith means having faith that God will perform what's best for not only you, but all the other's involved in the situation as well. It's in the giving up of everything that God will richly bless you in receiving everything! Every blessing! Every promise! Every provision! We are living in monumental times! We are being prepared for greater works!
"Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it." Psalm 127:1
Release the building of your house - your future - to the Lord and don't make the mistake of trying to build it yourself or your work will all be in vain. Don't make the same mistakes of your past in the days ahead. Remember to pray this prayer in Colossians that God has given to us. It was written in the New Testament for you! Put your name in there! It's a prayer that you can be sure that God will answer. God WILL fill you with His knowledge and understanding.