" '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 a hope and a future.' " - Jeremiah 29:11
I feel like I have gotten off on the wrong foot. If I am going to share life with you on this blog, I probably should define what my life is first.
God likes to teach me things by creating a high-level theme and then explaining how each detail fits into the big picture. I have grown to understand such concepts as grace, mercy, love, and joy over the years through these learning periods. It is a shame that I wasn't blogging then, because it would have been wonderful to have shared these as I learned them. Though I will definitely fit these into the posts as I go along, it is more prudent that I tell you about what God has been teaching me about lately: faith.
Faith can be defined in many ways and has many applications. Read Hebrews 11 if you want to see what faith in action looks like. The most pressing component of faith that God has been revealing to me over the last few years has to do with trusting in God's faithfulness and then acting accordingly. This is how faith is best defined in my life.
Back in 2011, I was going about my business when, suddenly, God felt it appropriate to make me two really big promises. The first year or so after each promise was made mostly consisted of me trying to prove that these were really promises of God and not some figment of my imagination. But, alas, they most certainly were of God, for there is no way that these things could just happen or remain happening over the long haul in the way they did if they weren't of God. This was one component of faith I learned: trusting that what God said was actually what He said. This is most important in light of His Word, but He also makes promises to people, either through His Word or through other means, and it's up to us to remain faithful to believe in the truth of those promises.
I would love to go into specific details about these promises. However, due to the world-wide nature of the world-wide web, it would be in my best interest to wait until they come to fruition and then tell you all the details. Besides, it will be even more faith-building for you when I can say "This is what God promised, and here's the fruits." While I can't tell you right now exactly what these promises were, I can tell you some interesting comparisons between them that will help you see how God works.
The first promise was something like this: "This is where I am leading you. I am not giving you an instruction manual on how to get there. Instead, just trust Me to lead you along the way. You will get there. Just trust Me and follow Me."
I think many of the promises God makes are like this. We can see the destination, and we know that we are guaranteed to arrive there on time. However, the road is foggy and the map is torn to shreds. Therefore, we just have to heed the promptings of the Holy Spirit inside and follow where He leads. This seems so difficult, especially because we like to reason out the possibilities of success or failure. But I have found the truth that God is faithful to His promise, and that doesn't change regardless of the situation.
So, how's the journey going so far? Well, it's not exactly what I was expecting. I am in a totally different place than I reasoned I'd be at this point. But where I am is so on track and is making a difference in the lives of people that I can tell that this is where I'm supposed to be now. And anyway, this is only part of the way along the timeline to the destination. There's still a ways to go. But I thought I would have to wait a long time to see any fruits of this promise; instead, I'm already seeing part of it coming to pass.
The second promise is totally opposite from the first. I was minding my own business when God made the promise to me in sentence form, as He spoke in my mind so very clearly what exactly was going to happen, it might as well have been audible. I was taken aback, and I laughed it off. Again, I heard in my spirit the same words, (to the equivalence of) "This is going to happen." So I started to pray and listen, as the Casting Crowns song "Already There" started playing over and over in my mind out of the blue. And instead of giving me the destination and just telling me to trust Him with the details, God began to list out the details of what would happen along the way. It all made sense, it all was logical, and it even made other things in life make more sense. But what I was left with was a set of answers to some serious prayers I had prayed and a detailed list of what would happen over the next year.
So a year later, after all the things God had told me would happen came to pass perfectly and on schedule, that's when I came to the full understanding that this was, in fact, going to happen. My faith finally caused me to totally trust in the words that He had spoken to me. You may wonder why God doesn't just explain what will happen and instead opts to leave you out of the details. I have found that, contrary to popular opinion, it actually requires way more faith to believe when the plan is laid out, because that is a lot more information to trust God to make happen perfectly and on schedule. It makes the "trust me" promise seem like no burden, when I've seen the "here's the plan" promise work exactly as planned, and even blessing me along the way above and beyond my wildest expectations.
I served as counselor this year at Royal Family Kids Camp. The camp verse for the week was Jeremiah 29:11, and the challenge was to just rest on that and not worry about anything. Why should I worry? Why should I fear anything? God has promised in His Word that He knows the plans He has for me, plans for a hope and a future. And, for some reason, he has chosen to reveal a few examples of these plans to me, which have built my faith extremely.
After completing the first year of the second promise, God chose again to outline the next 12 months. These included some very extreme events that challenged my faith to an even higher level. But, I'm eight months in, and everything is again on schedule according to that plan. I speak with certainty concerning the validity of the initial statement, because the probability of everything happening according to this plan without providential intervention is about the same as seeing an actual pig sprout wings and soar away. But here I am, my faith strong and indestructible. Even when the arrows of Satan attack me, that shield of faith protects me and helps me to grow even more, regardless of the circumstances. And it makes me see how faithful my God truly is.
So I'm excited to share with you about God's faithfulness to these promises going forward. And in a few years, I will be able to tell you what He actually promised.