You pray and pray and pray, and God blessed you within His Will. Did He bestow a blessing that mirrored your prayer?
My husband and I lived in the Midwest for ten years. I wanted to move back to the West Coast, meaning Los Angeles. I prayed without ceasing, with self as the center point. I wanted to move back to L.A..
My pray was not one that reflected dependence upon God. I did not ask what His Will was for me, instead I told Him what I wanted, not thinking about His big picture for my life and where I was best suited to accomplish His work.
The place I would accomplish His work was not Los Angeles, as I desired. It was Oakland, a place I refused to move to earlier in life. I did not care for the Bay Area. My husband had been offered a job in the Bay 10 years earlier. He was also offered an opportunity in Kansas where we moved. I would do anything to avoid the Bay.
Looking back, God planted me in Kansas to prepare me for the position as administrator at a charter school in, of all places, Oakland, Ca. Life was not easy in Kansas. We were in a recession and our jobs did not materialize as planned and offered. The state froze government jobs, i.e., the University of Kansas. I scrambled for employment and ended up taking two part time positions and a quarter coordinator position, yes that is equal to a full time plus job. We were also raising three sons who needed our attention. The jobs kept me going, made ends meet even though I was a college graduate and felt under paid with little to do with my degrees. Crazy right? Amazingly to the untrained eye, these experiences did not mount up to the reality. It turned out to be my training time in the desert. Each position offered experience in some component needed to succeed in my next task God was preparing me to undertake.This season was actually a blessing and also served to advance my husbands career.
All to often we can not see the forest for the trees. The trees are in our line of scope. Similarly, our prayers are in our line of scope. The forest is where God chooses to plant us to acquire the skills and knowledge to accomplish His work. The next time you feel you are in the wrong place, take time to recognize God has you where He wants you for that period in time. We are His apprentices. Apprenticeships often feel demeaning, without purpose or cause. But, within the context of doing things you feel require little of your abilities are the nuggets, the diamonds, that once connected prepare you for your next step.
I like the NLT version of Isaiah 55:8-9 because the message is clear –
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
God chooses us and prepares us to do His work, His Will. In the case of Paul, (I am not implying any of us are Paul’s in the truest sense), we are God’s ambassadors on earth, sent here to accomplish His Will.
In the article, The Preparation of Paul, the writer shares: “Paul said that when Christ called him, he did not go to Jerusalem to receive instruction from the apostles. Rather, he retired into Arabia for a time and not until three years later did he go to Jerusalem… It has often been remarked that Paul clearly implied that he spent three years being taught by Jesus Himself (1:12), either directly or (perhaps more likely) through the study of the Word. Thus, like the other apostles, Paul studied with Christ for three years before beginning his ministry (compare Acts 1:21). Ligonier.org. March 19, 1992.
Paul spent three years preparing for his mission, career if you will, before God placed him in the role.
David is also a good example of how God applies His Will.
David did not become King over night. David was the youngest, least hardy and not handsome like his brothers. His father taught him a skill because there was little hope of him becoming anything more. But it was precisely the skill, being a good sheppard, that was needed for him to become a man of God and a great king.
Did you know that God sent Samuel to tell David that he would be king when he was just 15 years old? At that time, David was just a shepherd boy who was always overlooked by his older brothers. But God had a plan for David’s life, it just took a while for it to happen. David had to be patient and trust that God would do what he promised. David had to run away from King Saul who hated David. When King Saul died, David was finally made king. In total, David had to wait 22 years to be the king of all of Israel! Have you ever had to wait for something that you really wanted? If you have, you know how hard it is to be patient. But, maybe you’ve only had to wait a few days or a week…maybe a month. David had to wait a lot longer than that. So kids, here’s the lesson. Sometimes God will make us wait. He may not answer every prayer just how we want or he might take longer to answer than we like. But, we can trust God’s timing because he’s God and he knows what he’s doing. His timing is always perfect. Be patient! (David Becomes King. Pursuegodkids.org)
When David was a teenager, he was anointed as the next king of Israel. It was then that he faced Goliath, was banished by Saul, hid in the desert, lived on the run, forced out of the nation, and fought many battles. It was nearly 15 years between the time that he was anointed king and actually became king. He was tested, just like Joseph, so that God could convert him from a shepherd into a king. (Quota.org Gert Britz)
Paul and David are great examples of how God prepares us to accomplish His Will. The Bible is our manual, our guidebook. If God trained them, placed them in desperate situations, sent them places he would not have chosen on their own, why would it be any different for us today?
God also chose women to accomplish His Will, in a time when women were second class citizens if you will. He chooses the unlikely so the world will know it is not our doing. In fact, the vast majority of the hero’s and heroines throughout history were ordinary individuals who God planted a seed in before they were born. What is the proof, read Jeremiah 1:5 where he penned God’s words, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.”
We should always dig deeper when we are in situations that feel leads no where, or in a direction not of our choosing. There are hidden gems, lessons, skills, knowledge and wisdom that is being imparted in those moments, times, seasons, and years.
Again, our time is not His time, nor our thoughts His. We are His and He has plans for our future. Jeremiah 29:11 poignantly states:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
I wrote this post days ago and my Pastor’s Daily Devotional focuses on this topic. Amazingly, we both spiritually matured in, that’s right, Oakland, Ca.