Dealing with disappointment can be extremely tough. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been praying about where God wants me to be in the next season of my life and became extremely anxious about it. I kept thinking, “Ok, He’s going to give me the answer…NOW…okay not now…but NOW.”
But the answer didn’t come and I had to face the reality that I was disappointed. I became angry, bitter, sad, and depressed. I refused to be comforted, wanting only what I wanted which was the answer I had been praying for.
And so that joy I had recently discovered and wrote about was shriveling fast, like weeds choking out flowers.
Before going to bed last night, “randomly” a friend called me and I told her what had been going on and she prayed for me. In her prayer, she suggested I lay it all out before God. I felt like that’s what God was asking me to do.
Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.
So I did just that after we hung up, saying exactly what was on my mind and heart to Jesus, then turned out the light and went to sleep.
The next morning (which was this morning), I woke up feeling led to spend some quiet time with Him before heading to church. As soon I sat down in my favorite spot, God, in His great mercy and graciousness, hit me with revelation.
He gave me a picture of me standing on the border of the Promised Land. The Promised Land offers complete peace and rest as I trusted in Him for everything. It was His promise to the Israelites if they trusted in Him.
But I was still on the border looking in because I was refusing to let go and surrender to His perfect love. I trusted in myself instead. I looked to my left and right, and there I saw all of humanity who hadn’t entered either because they, too, were busy bothering with the things of this world and not the things of God. And I was completely a part of this group.
For me, my future plans consumed my thoughts, and I could no longer see God through them. But that was just the idol of this week. Everyday different subtle addictions and idols wrestle for my thoughts that keep me from the promise of perfect peace in God.
What the vision mainly conveyed was my own humanness. I was humbled.
It was not God condemning me and making me feel bad about myself though. He just wanted to reveal it to me so that I could repent and be healed. I was filled with joy and peace as a result rather than guilt and pain since it came from God. I once heard D.C. missionary and YWAM leader Jason Hershey say that we must “repent from thinking that the word ‘repent’ is a negative thing.” With repentance comes sweet freedom from our idols and addictions that imprison us.
And with this vision God has caused me to repent from thinking I’m something I’m not, freeing me to walk in who He created me to be:
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment
How refreshingly sobering this judgment was because it was God giving me identity! I saw myself for who I really was: a human who really REALLY needs God! And I saw God for who He was: a God whose love is all that we ever really wanted and needed. And that led me to repent for a second thing: thinking God wasn’t enough.
I want to cling to what I think brings me joy and life. The saying that goes, “whatever consumes your thoughts reveals your idols” is so true. My worries and desires and fantasies that I keep separate from God causes me to refuse the joy Jesus offers every minute of the day.
I suddenly could empathize with those stubborn Israelites who refused to believe in God’s provision:
“I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people.
What’s so funny to me about this verse is that just a couple of weeks ago during worship, I felt as though the Spirit caused my head to feel so heavy that it literally fell all the way back resulting in mild whiplash. This happened to me twice, and I know it was God, in his funny way, releasing the stiffness of my neck so that I’d look up.
Today after all this revelation occurred, my mom told me that she had heard someone on the radio say that “God sometimes doesn’t answer prayers so that we are forced to stop and focus on Him instead of whatever we are focused on in prayer.” And that’s exactly what had happened to me!
But in my stubbornness, I had been refusing to look up and refocus – refusing to be comforted by the gifts He graced me with each day. Refusing to accept that His love, which includes guidance, wisdom, healing, fulfilled destiny, freedom, and joy, is truly all that I ever wanted and needed. I’ve been just like the Israelites refusing to accept the manna of love, complaining instead:
Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”
And just so you know, because God was so angry with their complaining, He gave them their desires for meat and as a result the Israelites who ate the meat died. Therefore may we thank God for His mercy in unanswered prayers!
Fortunately for us, instead of manna, Jesus has come so that we can eat of Him, the eternal bread that keeps on giving:
So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
“Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
I love that part: “Sir, always give us this bread.” It reflects our human need for constant refilling. And Jesus says this need is completely fulfilled in Him, if we will have it, if we stop refusing to believe it what’s we actually want and need.
…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chron 7:14
Wicked ways are not just drunken debauchery we tend to think of. It’s wrong thinking. It’s thinking we have to figure things out by worrying about them. It’s thinking that God’s love isn’t enough and it’s not what we want or need. God wants to heal me of all my wicked ways, heal me of my “off” thinking, and make my paths straight.
Although I’ve made significant steps forward in my walk with Him today, I know my human tendency is to forget and stumble a bit and return to old ways a few times. But I can trust God to always steer me back and use those times of stumbling to refine my faith and make it even stronger. I know without a doubt that I am a new person even since this past Friday, and I will be renewed all over again tomorrow as I go from glory to glory.
Jesus, my prayer is that you teach me how to follow You and live completely in Your peace as my thoughts are consumed of You alone. May I cast up my burdens and not dwell on them but dwell in You instead. May I truly learn, through experience, the wonders of this passage reflecting the Promised Land:
You will keep the mind that is dependent on You
in perfect peace,
for it is trusting in You.