As spring has given way to the heat of summer, most of us find it hard to do the things we were doing just a few months ago. For some, working out outdoors has become increasingly difficult in the sweltering heat. For others, our job commitments are butting heads with our responsibilities as home as we juggle children who are no longer in school during work hours. Some of my dear friends are heavily pregnant in the summer heat and their cute little spring time baby bumps have become full grown bellies as their little ones continue to be formed and shaped by our Heavenly Father. It seems our seasons are constantly changing and with them, our emotions regarding where we are in life.
Lately, I have this recurring thought - why do we receive God's promises with joy and then begin to despise the process as we journey towards His promise? Imagine you pray and beg (we do beg at times) God for increase, new opportunities or open doors. And suppose God answers that prayer by providing you with a new job opportunity. You are grateful. It is more money than you have ever earned in your life and the work is challenging but invigorating. But imagine as the weeks wear on, this new job takes over every aspect of your life. You no longer have time to bond with your family to the same extent. Family time has been replaced by shipping the children off to the babysitter and picking them up just mere minutes before it's time to start getting ready for bed. You wake up early and go to bed late. You are having to back out from all of your social engagements because your work schedule went from non-existent to forty hours a week plus over time. You are missing church more often and excusing yourself from your leadership roles. You do not have time to check in with your mentees or your accountability partners to the same extent. It seems this' blessing' of a job that God has granted you now has you failing in every other area of your life. You want to quit. The job seems like a mistake. This could not be what God had in mind when He opened this door. He would not want you working a job that has you failing at your first ministry within your home as well as dropping the ball on the work of the Kingdom that He has apportioned into your hands.
But what if the job is not a mistake? What if this new opportunity is the door that God intends to use to elevate you materially, financially and even spiritually? What if this new path has been designed to stretch you and prepare you for a greater path that lies ahead? We often make the mistake of praying for things without preparing for them. Praying for opportunity means you also prepare. In our example above, the desire for a new job should also be your motivation to put the pieces in place that allows you to do your best work. You will tap your resources to figure out logistics (childcare, transportation, etc.). You prepare your loved ones for the coming transition and rework your schedule to ensure that nothing important gets neglected. This is what it looks like to prepare to receive the things you desire. Lack of preparation often leads to mismanagement of the very blessings for which we prayed.
You pray for a full-time job but make no plans that allows you to work full-time. You do not have a plan for transportation, or childcare or even any work attire that would be suitable for your new role. You neglect the skills that will be necessary for you to flourish in your new assignment and simply sit on your hands. What would happen if the right opportunity comes along? More than likely you will miss out on it because you were not able to show up or perform.
In the same vein, when God makes a promise to us, on top of receiving it with joy, we have a duty to prepare to receive that promise. We cannot wait until the promise is fulfilled before we begin to act. At that point it is too late. Ask any woman who has ever given birth without realizing she was pregnant. The switch from childless adult to mother is jarring when you have no supplies, no time to prepare and no inclination that a baby was even in your not-so-distant future. In some cases, this lack of preparation endangers the lives of both the mother and the baby.
Similarly, we endanger our destinies when we fail to prepare to receive from God what He has promised to deliver. When we despise the process from the promise to the manifestation, we leave a lot of things undone. Our character is underdeveloped and thus unable to sustain what we are asking God to deliver. Using myself as an example, I wanted to be married at the age of twenty-three but had that desire been granted, I would either be divorced or unhappily married as we speak. My character could not sustain a covenant because who I was at that age was not ready for such a commitment. If I could not commit to God after 23 years of hearing His word, what made me think I could commit to a man for a lifetime after two years of courtship?
(The short answer is hormones...and flesh)
The journey to the promise is filled with changing seasons. We often start filled with joy, invigorated by the glimpse of the end result that God in His wisdom has shown us. As we walk with God towards what He has shown, that is where challenges rear their heads. We run out of money. We run out of motivation. Well-meaning loved ones begin to plant seeds of doubt in our minds ("did God really say...."), and even our own flesh begins to fight against us ("just stop now before you look like a complete fool"). When the process no longer resembles what God has promised us, our first temptation is to believe that God has changed His mind. Or maybe we heard wrong or misunderstood the vision. The temptation to abandon the process can often outweigh the desire to see the promise fulfilled.
When we find ourselves in this position, the best thing to do is to remember that God does not lie, neither is He like mankind - changing His mind as the wind blows. His promises are sure. His promises to us in Christ are yes and amen. Even as our seasons change sometimes from pleasant to painful, do not abandon the process. Hold tightly to the Lord's hand and journey with Him until the promise is fulfilled. Your seasons may change, but the God you serve does not. Your identity in Him is secured.