Friday, February 29, 2008

Delay? Denial? DON'T KNOW!!!!

As some of my friends and family know, I have been waiting on the Lord for direction concerning attending the "She Speaks" Conference in North Carolina in June of this year. I sort of gave God the deadline of TODAY to speak to my heart. Not because I'm impatient (although...that could be questioned at this very moment), but because the registration fee increases as of tomorrow and I wanted to be a good steward of our finances.

Yesterday was a tough day. For some reason I was positive God was going to somehow reveal His will for me in some miraculous way during the 24 hour span that just passed. I was anticipating every phone call, every person who passed me on the street, every piece of mail, every clerk in the store to be God's special messenger who would suddenly produce a scroll and begin recitation of a direct response from God. That didn't happen, although for the record, let me just say I believe God could have spoken through any of those ways if He had chosen to do so.

I came home from work around 9:30pm feeling tired. Work hadn't been that exhausting, but the emotional roller coaster I'd been riding on all day had depleted all energy. My husband had a cup of tea waiting for me when I walked in the door and after sharing some of my day with him, I went upstairs to our office to check e-mails.

Nothing personal had arrived, but one of the daily devotionals I subscribe to was waiting to be opened and read. I clicked into it and was immediately held captive by the title, "The Waiting Is The Hardest Part". The devotional was based on Genesis 16. This is the story of how Sarai, longing to have a child of her own, and even after God promised her husband Arbram that one day he would have more descendants than there are stars in the sky, took it upon herself to solve God's problem. In the beginning, Sarai had waited for God to provide, but the baby didn't come. With every passing day her tension and frustration mounted. Where was the answer? Had God forgotten about her?

The author writes, "It appears Sarai's thoughts walked as far as her faith would carry her, and then she stood looking at the mountains of her fear. Did God understand how important this was for her? How could God deny her the greatest desire of her heart? Was God even on her side?"

These questions bring us face to face with God's sovereignty. Will I trust God to provide according to His plans and purposes and in His way?

Sarai decided to take matters into her own hands. She felt God had abandoned her. This entire prophecy was a cruel joke. I think she believed God could do this, but would He do it for her? She felt she needed to assist God in finding a solution to fulfill His promise to her. Her faith faltered.

My faith was on the verge of collapsing yesterday, but reading this account of God's fulfillment of this dream for Sarai began to stretch my faith again. Delay is not denial. I can't manipulate an answer and I must hold onto God's promises that EVERYONE (that includes me) who seeks Him will find Him. Am I looking FOR Him as much as I am seeking an answer FROM Him?

God is strengthening my faith in Him. As I headed to bed last night I breathed the prayer, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"

I awoke this morning with a new vision. As I talked with my 15 year old son before driving him to school, I shared that I really felt God wanting me to come to the place where I could honestly say, "Lord, if Your answer is 'go', I will love You. If Your answer is 'stay', I will love You. Even if I hear nothing at all, I will still love You." My love for God cannot be based on what He does for me, but on Who He is. I surrendered my dream afresh to God.

This morning while checking e-mails again, another devotional appeared - from the same sender. It was about the fulfillment of God's promises. The writer shared that God is on the other side of our wait. I can't push open the door and make things happen, but must remain dependent on God. I can't force my timetable and agenda on Him. The devotional ended by quoting from Daniel 3:17-18, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego's reaction to being thrown into the fiery furnace, "If the God we serve exists, then he can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and he can resuce us from the power of you, the king. But even if he does not resuce us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up."

The author questioned, "Could God be steering you toward a 'Meshach moment,' bringing you to a place where you are wholly dependent upon God and faithful even if the answer does not come?" Isn't this exactly what I had shared with my son earlier today?

There's a song we've been singing in our church a lot lately. The chorus calls for a commitment: "Today I choose to follow You. Today I choose to give my 'yes' to You. Today I choose to hear Your voice and live, Today I choose to follow You."

Lord, today I choose to follow You.

4 comments:

Catherine said...

Oh do I know and understand where you're coming...and you know that! Trust Him. Lean on Him. Believe that in God's perfect time He will direct your path.

You may not know the answer today but God knew long ago that you would not have your answer by today. While the human side of us wants to do practical things (ie. be wise financial stewards) God also wants us to trust Him.

If He shows you at a later date that He wants you to go, that also comes with the understanding that His timing is perfect, regardless of reduced prices for early registration.

I know what it's like to seek God's will and to wait on Him for answers. You're so right that delayed answers do not necessarily mean 'no.' They just mean...delayed answers.

When you do know the answer, it will fill you with such peace that even when bumps or changes in direction come (or 2...3 year delays!!) you won't falter in your faith that you're doing what you are supposed to do.

Trusting Him to make it clear to you what His will is for 'She Speaks' and continuing to pray for you.

Love you bunches!

Barbara said...

I just happened to look at your blog as I was reading an Annie's Eyes post, and I wanted to thank you for your words of truth and wisdom.... right now I feel like I'm in a holding pattern with some financial issues and also future employment, and I know also that it's a time of testing. I just pray to have more patience and trust that God has only good things for me in His time.

Blessings
Barbara Wpg,MB

Kelley at Aroma of Joy said...

Seriously, I could have written this post. I have been anxiously awaiting God's answer and I just keep coming back to the scripture "be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD." I started thinking about WHY I want to go and I believe God wants to know if I will still serve Him, praise Him and love Him, even if He tells me no. I am ashamed to say I have not responded very well. Thoughts like "But God can't you see how this will glorify You?" or "How could you not want this for me Lord." Oh dear, I sound like a manipulative, spoiled child. Is it any my new memory verse is Romans 11:33-36?!

So with all of that said, I felt very depressed yesterday because I felt God was telling me no (by the way, thanks for your encouraging words, they are still ringing in my ears) but then I began to think, maybe this is Satan's attempt to stop me. That made me reflect on the following: whose deadline am I looking at? what is my true purpose for attending the conference? would I still go even if it meant staying somewhere else? or staying with a stranger? Was I trying to control the situation or truly relying on God? I still haven't got a definite answer but I have been presented with a plan that I think is heaven sent. I will let you know what happens with that. Meanwhile, I plan to blog on these thoughts at some point. I am out of town at a soccer tourny with my kids for the weekend so right now I need a nap. Keep me up to speed on your decision and thanks for walking this path with me, the journey is always easier with a friend!

Kelley

Yolanda said...

Joy:

This writing touched me deeply! My husband and I have had a Meshach experience that started in Dec of 04, and basically came to an end on Thursday! 2/28/08. And in the very beginning God spoke ever so gently to my Spirit that He would bring us out of this and we wouldn't even smell like smoke. This time was testing of my faith, patience, to stand on HIS promises, HIS TIME FRAME not mine, and simply to BELIEVE GOD. I'm sure there is much more that He will reveal to me about this "sifting" time, but I so want Him to get all the glory and honor. He is WORTHY!

Lovingly,
Yolanda