Hope Deferred

I went to the Bethel Worship Night on Wednesday, and let me just start by saying: WOW.  I went last year and God definitely blessed me, but this year He absolutely blew me away.  First of all, I prayed to have a friend to go with earlier that week and randomly ran into an old acquaintance from DBU who just happened to be going (which also strangely happened last year).  We then ended up finding each other at the very front of the line when we both got there (which is crazy because that place was PACKED)!  I was already extremely expectant, but during worship, when Josh Baldwin started singing his new song “Get Your Hopes Up,” I UNexpectedly became a balling mess.  I couldn’t contain the fact that I felt God speaking something deep within my heart I didn’t know I needed to hear.

 

It was in that moment that, almost without thinking, I heard myself say this genuine prayer:

“Lord, I don’t want You to take my disappointment away, but take away every ounce of my disappointment with You.  Take away every accusation from my heart that You are not good.  I want to worship You in the midst of my disappointment.”

 

Where did this come from?  Well, Bill Johnson spoke on many things that night, but the one thing that stood out to me over everything was the fact that in the here and now, the middle stage between desire and fulfillment, heaven and earth, the one gift I get to give my Jesus, the One who gave everything to me, is the gift of my faith and affection in the midst of disappointment.  You see, in Heaven, I will not be disappointed.  But on earth, “hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12).  There is absolutely no sickness in Heaven, but on earth, most of the time that is all that we can see.  We’re praying and praying, and nothing seems to be changing.  Sometimes, things may actually get worse.  But does that mean that God is not good?  Absolutely never.  I loved what Bill Johnson said about how we can be trusted with the weightiness of Jesus’ anointing for breakthrough ONLY to the degree that we navigate through our disappointment.  So, how do we navigate through disappointment?  It comes through seeing our disappointment, deferred hopes, and unfulfilled desires through the filter of His love.  He will always answer us with a yes, no, or not yet.  It’s up to us to rest in His answer and trust that He knows best.

 

If there are some prayers that you have been praying for a long time that have yet to be fulfilled, I want to encourage you with how the Lord encouraged me as to why His answer has been “not yet.”  Here are three reasons why that could be for you:

  1. He loves you too much to allow you to settle for a halfway relationship with Him.
    • If you are allowing yourself to stay in a pit of discouragement because you feel like He hasn’t given you what you’re praying for yet, you are missing out on the fullness of what the Father wants to do in you, and how He wants to bless you right now…with Himself! If you are praying and seeking Him for something specific, or you have been for a long time, you may find that you have opportunity to grow or you already have grown closer to Him in a way that you wouldn’t if He just went ahead and answered your prayer right away.  You find Him as you genuinely and desperately seek Him!  He allows us to feel our need sometimes so that we can realize how desperate we truly are for Him above anything else, and so we can receive the comfort that He brings when we are forced to rely on Him, and not the fulfilled desire.  What is so crazy about this, is He truly wants to bless us with the fulfillment of the dreams that He has put inside of us.  However, He alone knows that our true fulfillment comes from Him, not those dreams.  He loves us so much – enough to delay our desires so that we can grow in our revelation of the sufficiency of that love.  He does not want to give us something before we are strong enough to handle it without taking our eyes off of Him, which leads me to my next point…

 

  1. He loves you too much to allow you to make what you’re praying for an idol.
    • It is the grace of God for Him to not always give us what we want, when we want it. This is because when we begin to want it more than Him, He knows that we will destroy ourselves!  Why?  When we desire something SO much, we begin to be blinded by it.  That thing becomes an idol and it is like physically taking a veil and placing it over our eyes.  We become so focused on it, and so unable to think of anything else that it hinders our sight for God and what else He may be doing in our lives.  This is idolatry!  When the Lord causes us to wait, and we begin to submit to His process and seek Him through praise, the veil begins to be lifted, and we can now see and have the ability to differentiate what is good from what is best.  He is always best.  A “not yet” answer to our prayers allows us the time to realize the greatness of Who and what He has already given us, and to not make more of what we are praying for when He ultimately gives it.

 

  1. He loves you too much to allow you to miss out on the fruit and blessing of your current ministry.
    • If you are wondering why the Lord hasn’t automatically shifted your season from one to the other by answering your prayer, it may be because He is still pulling the greatness out of you in the current season that you are in…for you as well as for others! Ultimately, our greatest blessings come when we learn how to take our eyes off of ourselves, and focus on BECOMING more of a blessing to others.  You may think that you would be so much more effective if He would just go ahead and give you what it is you are asking Him for, especially if it is a good thing and a part of His will, but He may have even bigger plans right now.  In fact, He always has bigger plans.  Everything the Lord does is on purpose (see Ecclesiastes 3).  He is giving you a testimony while you are waiting for your prayers to be answered, and the lessons that you learn in this season will extend far beyond the moment you receive the fulfillment (like Abraham and Sarah with the son of their promise!).  You are called to show others what God is showing you in this season!  Sometimes, we feel that He is holding out on us, but in reality, He is wanting to pour His love out on us in an even greater way through His using us to be an even greater blessing!  Whether you choose to encourage others who are in the very same place of waiting, or if you simply choose to worship Him before He has answered your prayers, others are watching.  You are being used by the Lord more than you even know, and it’s simply by being obedient to Him in the season that He has placed you in.  He is showing you how to rest in what He has already given you, and to use it for His glory exactly where you are, and that in turn, teaches others how to do the same.  That way, in His lovingkindness, He can bless you with even more than what it was you originally asked for because He is enabling you to reap where you have now sown – in places it may not have happened in if He hadn’t given you a “not yet” answer.  Do you see how wonderful He is?

 

With all of that being said, I would love to share with you all a song I wrote last year (my first on the ukulele!) that God has used in my life again and again to speak truth back to me.  I hope it blesses you.  🙂

 

Hope Deferred by Amanda Rassamni:

I have been down on my knees with desperate pleas, singing “Come and fill me.”

I know what it looks like to wait day after day, when nothing has changed.

But You, You are not a God who withholds good from me, and I, I cannot accuse You of wrongdoing.

Oh, how precious are the seasons that I choose to cling to You, before You do what I’m asking You to do.

 

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but how I trust You, oh, how I trust You, my Father.

Desire fulfilled is a tree of life, and I know only You can satisfy.

 

Shall we not accept from the Lord good and trouble?

Shall we not accept from the Lord every season of the soul?

Shall we not accept from the hand of God the comfort that He brings when He knows we’re suffering?

He knows we’re suffering.

 

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but how I trust You, oh how I trust You, my Father.

Desire fulfilled is a tree of life, and I know only You can satisfy.

 

© 2017 Amanda Rassamni

 

Let’s face our disappointment with the love of God and the faith and trust that He will complete the good work that He began in us (Philippians 1:6).

For the Love of Redemption

I was eating dinner with a friend the other night, and as we were talking about our stories, these words came out of my mouth:

 

“You went through what you went through so that God could REDEEM it.”

 

I couldn’t help but realize that those words were straight from Heaven to my own heart, and exactly what I personally needed to hear.  You know, some things that happen in our lives are unexplainable.  Some things are just plain hard and sometimes, it is next to impossible to try and figure out how on earth they could ever turn out to be good.  It actually can seem pretty hopeless.

 

I want to encourage whoever is reading this though, if you are willing to believe it, that there is a God who truly loves you, more than you know.  The whole premise of our faith in Him is that He loved us enough to give His life for us and save us from ourselves.  “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).  Who else can reconcile the things that happen in life, but a Christian who knows the love of a redeeming God?  To know without a shadow of a doubt that, if He allowed it, even if it happened according to our own faulty enacting of the free will He gave us (bad decisions and wrong choices), if He redeemed our very lives, He can and will redeem anything if we surrender it to Him.

 

If you put yourself in situations that led to where you are, or if horrible things have happened to you, our God is a God of redemption.  What kind of love is this?  A love that loves and redeems just because – for no other reason than that He has chosen to make you the object of His powerful affection.  Do not condemn yourself to a life of hopelessness and discouragement because of your past choices or experiences.  If you do not, “neither (does Jesus) condemn you” and He simply asks you to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11).  He can redeem every single thing that you have ever done or been through, and not only does He have the power to, but He actually wants to.

 

Our God is omnipresent – everywhere, all at once, He is omnipotent – entirely powerful, and He is omniscient – He knows everything that there is to know.  He existed before time began because He actually created it.  He was alone, in community with Himself, with need of nothing and no one.  But He chose…He chose to create.  To think that God is sovereign over the entire universe and He could do anything He wanted to.  He could choose to create a planet of people that were consigned to loving Him and doing whatever He says, even though everything He says brings life and peace.  He could create an empire for no other reason than to serve Himself, even though serving Him is the very purpose and beauty and fulfillment of our lives.  But NO.  Our God, the God above all other so-called “gods”, chose to create creatures with the free will to actually make the choice to love Him themselves.  Not only did He do that with such love and generous freedom, but He then chose to lay His own life down as a perfect, redeeming sacrifice for the ones He loves, when we didn’t even exist yet to know that we needed Him at all.  This is not a fairy tale, but this is real life.  This is real love.

 

You may not believe this is true, but I personally refuse to believe that my story and my personal pain means nothing.  If the greatest pain – complete and utter separation from God, has been redeemed once and for all, then how can every other thing that happens in life not be?

 

“For your Maker is your Husband—the Lord of hosts is His name—and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; the God of the whole earth He is called” (Isaiah 54:5).

 

I’m in love with the Lord because He is strong enough to handle my pain.  He does not shy away from it in cruelty or in powerlessness.  When I am in need of His comfort, He speaks.  When I am desperate, and I open myself to genuinely hear from Him, I do.  Many people think that God is silent, but while there are seasons in which we hear His voice more clearly than others, we can always hear Him by reading His word and seeking Him genuinely.  He will always ultimately honor our seeking Him in desperation.

 

Although I have yet to see what it is He is doing, and what He is going to do with my story, I have to believe that He is still on the throne.  He is my God, and in Him, I lack no good thing – even before I believe that what He’s given me is good yet (Psalm 34:10).  He is the Redeemer of all things.  Nothing is too hard for Him.  He is the very definition of goodness, and I will choose to put my full faith in Him.

 

If He saved us for the love of redemption, will He not also delight in redeeming our current situation?  He will.  And He will do more than we can ask or imagine because He is a creative God of Redemption and Love.

You Were Made to Fly Higher

“Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.  Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

-Philippians 3:12-14

 

I do not presume to know everything about God, or everything about the Bible, but I can say with absolute confidence that I have experienced Him.  It is impossible to nail down any one way in which He comes or to fully explain exactly what it looks like when He does, but let me just say that when He comes…you know.  His Presence is marked by peace, joy, hope, love, confidence, comfort, strength, purpose, and encouragement.  There is no shame, no guilt, and no fear in His Presence, and if there is, He replaces it with the understanding that He fully sees you, knows you, and accepts you as the One who loved you enough to die for you.  It feels like coming home.

 

Just as God spoke to Moses through a burning bush, He can speak to you today.  On the other hand, just as God spoke to Elijah through a still small voice, He can speak to you today.  He can speak audibly, and He can speak quietly, and He speaks in many different ways.  Just like Moses and Elijah, you can experience Him and hear His voice in a way that will always line up with the truth of His Word, but that is personal to you and your current situation.  The way you hear and experience God does not make you more or less spiritual than anyone else, but to expect to hear and experience Him as you seek Him – that’s what will take you deeper.  We cannot be led by our fickle feelings, but when we have devoted our feelings to the Lord and we are desiring to experience and draw closer to Him in a genuine and biblical way, we can expect Him to come.

 

That being said, I just want to make it clear that:

Wanting to experience God is never wrong. 

Being passionate about God, and about experiencing Him, is never wrong. 

Wanting to surround yourself with people and be in Christian circles and churches that are passionate about God, and about experiencing Him, is never wrong. 

 

I asked God to give me a clear metaphor of what experiencing Him is like, and this is what He spoke to me:

 

Experiencing God is like flying in an airplane.

 

You are flying the plane and using all of the given instruments in order to reach your destination.  Your spiritual instruments look like praying and communicating your heart to the Lord, applying His Word to your life in faith, and worshiping Him genuinely with everything you have.  It looks like simply being obedient in your relationship with Him.  When you live in this way, despite your feelings, you are experiencing God and you are FLYING.  There is so much to see, and so much revelation to receive!  You are content in seeking God and drawing near with all of your strength, but guess what?  The next thing you know, He comes in with the wind of His Spirit – with a force that comes up underneath you to support you, lift your wings, and take you higher than ever before!  This is what you were MADE for!

 

When flying a plane, this is literally called “lift.”  Lift happens when the plane begins to be pointed upward due to the incoming contact of rising air.  This does not cause the plane to crash, or take the place of the instruments that the pilot is already using, but it actually lifts the plane up higher than it could ever reach with its own power!

 

Literally, this is what it looks like to press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14)!  However, James 4:8 also says: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”  Never forget that our relationship with God is NOT, not will it ever be, a one-way relationship.  When we begin to put into practice simple spiritual disciplines in order to draw near to God, He draws near to us with the wind of His Spirit and encounters us in ways that are deeper than just reading words on a page.  Our God is alive and we can personally experience Him!  Experiencing God through the power of His Spirit does not detract from our personal devotion time spent in His Word and in prayer, but it actually strengthens it due to the fact that the wind of the Holy Spirit comes to meet us where we are and lift us higher in Him, encouraging us to want to devote ourselves to pressing into Him even more!  When we seek Him in His Word, we can expect to find Him in our daily experience.  We can also expect that He will exceed our expectations by taking us to new levels in Him.  🙂

 

We were never intended to be in control of where God takes us and how He takes us there.  We were always intended to surrender.  If God wants to shift our paradigm of what He can do, and lift up our wings a little bit, let’s give Him free reign to do so.  After all, He is the King, and this is His Kingdom, not the other way around.

 

So, let us be open to experiencing Him however He wants to come.  Let us live our lives confidently by utilizing all of the spiritual disciplines we know of (praying, reading His Word, worshiping Him), but let us not think that this relationship solely rests on us!  When we call out to God, He answers.  In His kindness, He allows us to experience Him in ways that literally bring His Word to life by enabling us to apply it to our lives more deeply and more personally.  We need not be afraid of experiencing God in new ways as it only takes us higher and causes us to draw closer to Him than ever before!

 

You will not crash when you fix your eyes on Him.  You were made to fly higher.  🙂

 

(P.S.  If you would like to go a little deeper into this topic, take some time to read my story about My Journey into the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and may it encourage you!)

The Humility of Preparation: Esther’s Story

“[He is] always striving for you earnestly in his prayers, [pleading] that you may [as persons of ripe character and clear conviction] stand firm and mature [in spiritual growth], convinced and fully assured in everything willed by God.”

– Colossians 4:12

 

Oh, how I love the Lord.  No matter what your season looks like, when it’s with Him, it’s better.  He is truly a good, good Father – always teaching, and always loving, and when He makes us go through humbling growth processes, it doesn’t mean He is mad at us!  He is simply preparing us so He can increase our capacity and fully accomplish His will for our lives.  I’ve recently been asking the Lord to teach me how to navigate through my process, and He reminded me of Esther – the classic example of a godly woman who obeyed Him and was used mightily to help save her people.  She not only honored God ultimately, but throughout her entire journey, and I believe He wants us to take the very same steps in order to prepare according to His will.

So, what did Esther’s preparation look like?

The Bible describes Esther as “beautiful and lovely”, well before she was ever chosen to be taken to the king’s palace (Esther 2:7).  We don’t know if she actually wanted to be there or not, but once she arrived there, Esther immediately humbled herself by submitting to the year-long process of getting ready to meet the king.  She obtained the favor of Hegai, her supervisor, and was quickly given the things for her purification, her portion of food, seven maids, and the best apartment in the harem.  When she finally had the chance she had been preparing for, she laid down her own desires and “required nothing but what Hegai the king’s attendant…suggested” (Esther 2:15).  So, Esther met the king, was chosen as queen, and the rest is history!  Sounds quick and easy, right?!  I’m not so sure.  Let’s take a look at how she handled her preparation season, and imagine it as if we were in it…

 

  1. Esther humbled herself

The first thing we see in this story is that Esther humbled herself and submitted to the immediate process in front of her – the growing season God had placed her in.  Though she came into this situation already considered beautiful and lovely, she didn’t scoff and think, “Nope.  I’m too good for this.  I know who I am.  If the king doesn’t like me as I am, then what is the point?”  She accepted the fact that she needed to be prepared.  She embraced the humility of her “getting ready” season because she realized that there was someone higher that she was placed there to please, and that someone was God!  God knew that Esther needed to grow in humility in order to be strong enough to lay her life down if necessary, so He did not disdain placing her in this year-long season of patience, submission, and personal growth.

Relating this to us: as people who are called by God, our goal should be to ready ourselves in order to be chosen by Him.  However, to be chosen by Him means submitting to the process of His choosing as well.  You see, there is a humility in getting ready the way the Lord wants you to be ready.  Like Esther, you may already be considered “ready” for your next season in the eyes of the world, but it is only the Lord’s eyes that truly count.  He wants to purify us to the core.  If we don’t prepare and purify our hearts by submitting to His process with humility, we won’t be able to receive all that He has for us.  If we think we are ready for more, and we are wondering why He isn’t moving us forward yet, it may be because He is still wanting to work some things out inside of us that we are unaware of (see Field of Dreams blog about partnering with the Lord in what He’s doing in you!).  However, it could also be that He is proud of the way in which you are submitting already – and He is using you as an example exactly where you are.  🙂  Both seasons are valid and can equally be God’s will!  Either way, we need to follow the example of Esther who modeled how to humbly submit to God’s process for as long as it takes.

 

  1. Esther grew in favor with God and man (and in love for them)

In addition to enhancing her outward appearance through the year-long beauty treatments, throughout the book of Esther, the author repeatedly mentions that Esther gained the favor of those around her.  When she gained the king’s attendant’s favor by most likely simply being kind and honoring to him, he blessed her more than all the women, and after Esther was chosen as queen, the king was so elated to bless her that he offered up to half the kingdom to her!  This shows me that not only did Esther humble herself enough to submit to her process of purification, but she also took every opportunity to learn how to love and honor those around her.  God was growing her in favor with Himself, and in favor with man – just like the process that Jesus went through!  I asked the Lord why this was so important, and He showed me Ephesians 1:7-12:

“7 In Him we have redemption (deliverance and salvation) through His blood, the remission (forgiveness) of our offenses (shortcomings and trespasses), in accordance with the riches and the generosity of His gracious favor, 8 which He lavished upon us in every kind of wisdom and understanding…12 so that we who first hoped in Christ [who first put our confidence in Him have been destined and appointed to] live for the praise of His glory!”

Wow.  So, through His salvation, God has given us favor so we can live for the praise of His glory, or in other words, be His representatives on the earth!  In fact, if we are truly living for the praise of His glory, God will ensure we have the most favor possible with Him and His people so we can glorify His name even more!  Growing in favor with God and man is not self-promoting or selfish, but it is a process in which we actually live our lives in such a way to say: “It’s not about me.”  If we live to love and please the Lord, we will obey Him by placing Him, and then others, before ourselves.  When we do that, the Lord grants us favor because He sees – “Now, that is a person I can honor and bless who will not let it go to their head!  They will ultimately honor and bless Me no matter what!”

Think about it: God wanted Esther to be in the palace so she could save her people and give Him glory.  If she was worried and fearful about growing in favor with man by becoming queen, she would have completely missed out on the opportunity that God had hand-picked her for!  On the other hand, if she was selfish once she got to the palace, she would have ignored her Uncle Mordecai’s request of her to go before the king, her people wouldn’t have been saved by her influence, and not to mention she could have lost her own life in trying to preserve it!  Because Esther prepared her heart and character in her preparation season by growing in love for other people, she was ready when the Lord called her to lay her life down for them.  Her choice to ultimately go before the king even though she could have been killed took all the courage she had, but God had grown her so much in love for Him and His people that she could not imagine disobeying, and He had also grown her in favor so that His will could be fulfilled.

 

  1. Esther laid her desires down to pick up her king’s

The final way in which Esther humbled herself in her preparation season was in choosing what to bring with her into the king’s chamber.  To give a little context, the book of Esther actually began when the previous queen, Vashti, rebelled against the king’s desires.  She, just like Esther, had been given the royal preparation and placement in the palace as queen, but she lost it all due to not being willing to forsake her own desires and honor her king’s.  On the other hand, so many girls other than Esther went through the year-long purification process, but they were not chosen.  Could it be that they were unwilling to be teachable or to learn from the king’s attendant what it was the king actually desired?  To put it in terms that relate to us, could it be that they had not yet learned to submit to the Holy Spirit, their parents, and their leaders, and instead chose to do/say/have whatever they personally wanted instead?  They may have forgotten that the goal was not what they wanted, but what the king wanted.  The goal was to marry the king.

One of the greatest things that we can learn from a waiting season or preparation process like Esther’s is how to lay down our desires for the Lord’s.  When we come to know Him more – which is what a waiting season allows us the time for – we discover that His desires were actually what we wanted all along.  We can now come to Him with honesty and say, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  To think that He loves us enough to actually give us the time and space to learn and grow into what is best for us!  He has in mind for us even greater glory than we can fathom, and He is strengthening our character so that we can stand, no matter what happens.  He wants us to humble ourselves, like Esther, to submit to the process He has us in and to choose to lay down our own desires for His greater ones.  Our goal is to marry our King.  🙂

 

In conclusion, preparing to walk further into God’s will for us…yes, it is humbling, yes, it is stretching, yes, it can be a long road, but it is marked by intimacy with the Father, a greater understanding of ourselves, and the confidence that His love makes it worth it all.  As long as it takes, getting ready the way God wants grows us in humility, in favor with God and man, and in learning how to lay down our desires for His.  Just like Esther, God desires that we be so reliant on Him that, when given the opportunity to do something for His Kingdom, we will not cower and shrink back, but instead, even through our fear, we will stand with boldness, courage, and obedience.  The longer your preparation season, the more He is preparing you for.

Will you submit to the humility of preparation like Esther?

Rejection is a Lie

Unraveling pain through letting the Lord in to heal it is a process.  Once we surrender He can heal it all in one go, but I really believe that we still need to submit to the process of letting Him change the way we think about the pain in addition to how we feel in order to FULLY heal.

What does that look like?  It looks like facing exactly what you’ve experienced and felt head on.  You see, when it comes to pain, there are good days and bad days.  Many people think that the way to heal is to ignore the pain and wait for the good days, but that is actually denial, and a way to keep yourself from fully healing!  Good days don’t mean that we don’t still have some painful residue in our hearts that needs to be dealt with, and bad days can be made even worse if we do not confront the ways we feel with the Lord according to His Word.  One way to do this is, when you feel pain about something, immediately ask the Lord: Why am I feeling this way right now, and what do You have to say about it?

I want to share about a time in which I practiced this with the Lord according to what I was feeling in the moment, which was specifically the feeling of rejection.  He spoke these exact words into my spirit to combat it:

“Isn’t it time you took off the lie that you’ve been rejected?”

Wow.  I thought of that all day after He said it, but I needed Him to clarify what He meant.  You see, how was my feeling rejected a lie if I actually was rejected?  Well, that night, I felt the Lord telling me to read an extremely familiar passage in Isaiah.  I’ve read it so many times that my Bible literally flips open to it now, so I definitely remembered what it said.  However, this time, God showed me something that I never noticed before:

‘“The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit – a wife who married young, only to be rejected,’ says your God” (Isaiah 54:6).

Did you catch that?  I’ve read this verse so many times…SO MANY TIMES, and yet I never noticed those two little words.  As if.  As if you were rejected.  What does that mean for you and me?  It means that – if you are a Christian and you’ve ever felt that someone has rejected you, and you have carried the “Rejected” label with you, you’ve actually believed a lie about yourself.  How do I know this?  Because Jesus was rejected so that I could be accepted.  Take a look with me at Isaiah 53, just one chapter before the verse I mentioned:

“…(Jesus) had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.  He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.  Like one from whom people hide their faces He was despised, and we held Him in low esteem.  Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted.  But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:3-5).

Jesus RADICALLY loves me.  He loves me so much that He actually chose to come to this earth as a baby – the most humble of creation and in creation’s clothes, not His glorious ones!  He not only lived a normal life so that He could understand me in all that I feel on this earth, but He died a gruesome death and faced absolute separation from the Father in order to become one with me.  He was despised, rejected, a man of suffering, familiar with pain, held in low esteem, punished, stricken, afflicted, pierced, crushed, and wounded…for me.  Let that sink in for a minute.  That is radical love to the highest extent.  And why did He do this?  So that I, who once was rejected, though not anywhere near what He experienced, could be fully and completely accepted.  I am accepted by the Father and loved unconditionally, not for anything that I have done, but because of what He has done for me.  If He calls me accepted, how then can I be rejected?  If He went to such lengths to prove His love for me, how can I dwell in feeling rejected by people on earth?  I am not of this world.  That means that the world may reject me (in fact, Jesus said they will), but if I am already accepted, then I do not have to take that label on!

REJECTION IS A LIE.

After we are “rejected” by the people of this world, we have to take care and evaluate if we are believing things that are true: what God says, and not just how we feel.  We have all experienced this kind of pain in varying degrees, whether it was from a significant other, a friend, or a family member, but the Lord did not go to the lengths mentioned in Isaiah 53 for you to feel that way forever.  Instead, He did it so that no matter what happened in the past or will happen to you in the future, you can be free from all labels and take on His name: “Loved.”  Make sure that you do not allow what has happened to you define you, change your personality, or change your thoughts about yourself in any way.  If it does, then you can know that that is from the enemy, and not from God.  God wants to be your Source of identity, rest, satisfaction, and love – and His opinion is the only one that counts.

So, with all of that being said, I really just wanted to share a few simple steps that I took in order to hear the Lord speak to me in this area of pain.  I know He wants to do the same in you.  🙂  If you feel like you’re in a painful season, here’s some tips to process through it:

  1. Ask Him why you feel what you feel and what He thinks about it.
    • When I heard God tell me to take off the lie that I had been rejected, I was shocked. I thought, “What?!  The LIE that I’ve been rejected?  But Lord, You know how I feel!”  Yes, He does.  And He does not minimize or diminish our painful feelings at all.  However, in the midst of what we feel, He wants to speak truth to us so we can HEAL.  Sometimes, we experience pain that only the Lord can comfort, but sometimes, we put ourselves through pain by not receiving the comfort that God has already given us!  We have the power to shut down lies and false feelings that the enemy tries to use against us when we meditate on God’s truth!
  2. Confront the things you feel with the Word of God.
    • We MUST take all of our painful processing to Jesus because when we feel a sense of sorrow or pain, if we do not confront it with the truth of God’s Word about it, we can take it on as a label.  I felt I was rejected, and because of that, what I did not realize was that I began carrying around that memory as a new identity!  The Lord had to show me that if I was rejected, that was because that was not what He had for me, and I did NOT have to take the label “Rejected” into my future.  This can apply to other areas of pain as well.  For example, if you feel loneliness, you have to fight the temptation to believe the lie that you are just a “Loner.”  Or, if you feel like you’ve failed in certain areas, you must break the lie that you are a “Failure.”  You have to confront the lie that is confronting you in order to move on and let the Lord heal you!
  3. Believe that what He says about you is true.
    • When the Lord told me to take off the lie that I had been rejected, I thought about it all day long.  Could that be true – that the rejection I felt was actually just surface level?  I knew that the Lord wasn’t ignoring what had happened to me, but that He was speaking a truth that was deeper than what I had experienced.  I had to accept the label that He gave me instead: Accepted.  If He says you are accepted, YOU ARE, and that’s that!  Otherwise, what foundation are you standing on – that of your shifting feelings, or that of His everlasting love and truth?  I pray always the latter, for you and for me.  🙂

You do not have to feel bad for needing to process through the painful things that have happened to you.  The Lord created you to need Him and He will give you all the time you need!  The only way to fully heal is to partner with Him in the healing that He brings, and He is so willing to bring as much as we’re willing to receive.  🙂

Field of Dreams

I love the way God speaks.  When I intentionally keep my spiritual eyes open, I find He always shows me something significant in the mundane.  This happened to me recently as I went for a drive just to talk to Him and listen, and found myself in a neighborhood I’d never been in before.  Some houses were finished, some were halfway built, and some hadn’t even received a foundation yet.  I even saw a family looking at the home they were about to buy!  It was all so dreamy and thought provoking.  🙂  One thing stood out to me more than anything though, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it for two weeks.

While driving around in this neighborhood, I saw a large empty field with a SOLD sign in front.  That’s it.  Just a field…with nothing on it…that was already sold.  Something about this really struck me – so much so that I had to take a quick picture of it.  I asked God to show me how this related to me, and I did a search on the word ‘field’ in the Bible.  This is the verse that popped out to me:

“For you are God’s fellow workers, you are God’s field, you are God’s building.” (1 Corinthians 3:9).

You are God’s field.

There was literally nothing on the field, and yet, the field was sold.  Why would it be sold already?  Who bought it?  I can understand the family who was looking to buy the house that was already built, but to buy a field that is completely empty is a big risk.  The only reason why someone would buy a field like that is if they were assured that they could build on it, and that they would like what was built there.  They had to trust the one with the blueprint – actual sight yet unseen.  They had to trust that he or she knew what they were doing and could build them a beautiful home on the field.  Otherwise, I don’t believe they would have bought it.

Application: If I am God’s field, then He is the One who bought and took a risk on me!  He purchased me prior to any visible value, and He, the One who holds the building plan, is pleased with His purchase.  Knowing this, I am not only bought by the Lord, but I have chosen to be sold out to Him as well.  He has seen that I am something worth building, and I have seen that His building plans are good.  Much like that field, there may not be anything of structure or substance there yet, but He has created me with so much potential and possibility, and His plans are in the works.  I trust in Him to build on what He has bought.

You are God’s building.

I did some research, and guess what the first step to building a house is?  It’s digging!  Once the land is scoped out to see if it can be built upon, the builders have to dig in order to make enough room for the foundation.  I found out that ALL foundations require at least some excavation of the soil.  There’s actually such a thing as “disturbed” soil, or soil that has been changed from its natural condition by man, and all of it needs to be removed and replaced in order that there will not be any problems with the foundation of the building.

Application: Disturbed soil in this metaphor represents pain that has caused bitterness, hardness of heart, or unforgiveness and has therefore prevented God’s building process in your life from moving forward.  Literally, disturbed soil has limited air and water pockets, few micro- and macro-organisms, and shallow root growth, but figuratively, a disturbed heart leads to complete dryness in our spiritual walk, it sucks the life out of our personality, and it prevents our personal depth in the Lord.  God wants to do so much in and through us, and He has so much He wants to give, but He will not give us anything we cannot handle.  He is not only concerned with what is seen on the outside, but in the ground being tilled on the inside, making sure that there isn’t anything wrong or unstable inside of us.  If He finds anything in the field (or in the depth of our hearts) that isn’t ready, He will hold off on the outer, visible building because a foundation laid in unsettled soil determines the soundness of the building’s entire future.

Finally, you are God’s fellow worker.

Application: God is the One who bought and is building me, and I received His righteousness immediately when I was saved, but now that I love Him, I have chosen to work alongside Him.  This means that I, along with Him, am the one who is supposed to do the internal digging in my heart!  Hosea said it perfectly when he told the Israelites to: “Sow for yourselves according to righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God); reap according to mercy and loving-kindness.  Break up your uncultivated ground, for it is time to seek the Lord” (Hosea 10:12).

After He bought me, God entrusted me with the responsibility of studying the soil I am planted in – such as my own habits and thought patterns – and with actively making the needed changes in my life that He leads me to make.  This is not to be saved, since I now inherit the promises of God through faith and not works (see Romans 4), but so I can be the most blessed and at peace!  I am called to keep my eyes open to what He, in His mercy, wants me to work on alongside Him in my heart.  If I am God’s field, God’s building, AND God’s fellow worker, then He has determined to give me an active role in my own process of being built by Him, or in other words, my own spiritual growth.  This doesn’t mean taking the building plans for my life into my own hands, but it does mean surrendering to the process in which He has me in (see the dream God gave me in the Surrender the Building Plans blog).  I need to take care that I am removing things like the disturbed soil of bitterness and unforgiveness that do not give me life and replacing them, or building on the Foundation of Jesus Christ, with pure and God-honoring thoughts and actions.  As Paul says in 1 Corinthians:

“Let each [man] be careful how he builds upon it, for no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is [already] laid, which is Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).  But if anyone builds upon the Foundation, whether it be with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, the work of each [one] will become [plainly, openly] known (shown for what it is); for the day [of Christ] will disclose and declare it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test and critically appraise the character and worth of the work each person has done” (1 Corinthians 3:10-13 AMP).

Last but not least, I want to encourage those of you who feel like you’ve been working for a long time, and haven’t seen much progress.  Isaiah 54 has some incredible promises for the building that is your life.  The Lord says:

“Behold, I will set your stones in fair colors [in antimony to enhance their brilliance] and lay your foundations with sapphires.  And I will make your windows and pinnacles of [sparkling] agates or rubies, and your gates of [shining] carbuncles (jewels), and all your walls [of your enclosures] of precious stones” (Isaiah 54:11-12 AMP).

If that doesn’t speak to you, then let me bring home how beautiful that verse really is: THE LORD IS THE ONE WHO IS BUILDING YOU!  He only builds with the best materials.  He sees you as worthy of His extravagance, just because He is extravagant, and He is the One who made you.  What you see as an empty field, He sees as an elaborate mansion with endless potential.  All you need to worry about is that you are doing the faithful job of preparing the soil (the atmosphere of your heart) for what God is building.  It is not your job to figure out how your building is going to be built.  Don’t underestimate the plans that God has for you, and don’t try and put them together yourself (once again, see Surrender the Building Plans blog if you haven’t already!).  Dream bigger and trust the Lord’s will.  Live confidently in His peace and love for you.  Do the internal work that He has put before you in this season with the hope that He who has called you is Faithful, and He will complete it.  Instead of being discouraged by the amount of the work that is ahead of you, remember:

The worker doesn’t just till the field; they also reap the harvest.  🙂

So, do work!  Your harvest is coming, and what once was just a field will one day exceed your wildest dreams.

The Mourning of a Great Adventure

I’m about to be pretty blunt here, but when I got home from Scotland last week, I had to have a week of mourning.  It’s dramatic, I know, but I found myself actually feeling really depressed that all my adventure and exciting explorations were over!  I was back in my home town, in a place that I love and with people that I absolutely adore, but also with the same old day in and day out experiences I’ve become so accustomed to, and stuck back in the same season that I was in before I left.  It wasn’t like I wanted to leave and live in Scotland, or anywhere else for that matter, but there was something in me still deeply longing to see things come to pass in my life that are yet unfulfilled.  Thinking it over, and having a pity party about it for a week, I believe the Lord showed me what was going on in my head, and as 2 Corinthians says to comfort others with the comfort God has given you, I think this may help a lot of you out as well.

 

Sometimes when we have great experiences, we want to pause time and just stay there, live there, and make that place our home.  When you think about it, it makes so much sense.  We were made for adventure.  We serve a God who created excitement and adventure!  If I think about the eternity that God has promised me through His Son Jesus, it makes my head spin and my heart swell.  I can’t even fathom the non-stop excitement and adventure that is Heaven.  The depths of God are endless…ENDLESS.  And they are depths of goodness and joy.  That is why to know Him is to love Him, and we will find ourselves throughout all eternity searching Him out.

 

However, on this earth, other fun adventures don’t always last forever.  There is pain.  There is the reminder of hope deferred.  There are yet-to-be answered prayers and unfulfilled desires.  Things aren’t always exciting and fun.  Sometimes, there is monotony.  You are required to keep your head down and just do the practical things of life like paying your bills on time, going to work each day, and keeping up with your weekly responsibilities.  Life can be tiring sometimes.  I realized that with my week-long adventure in Scotland, I had come home with some expectations of constant excitement and the immediate fulfillment of my dreams that were unrealistic.  I was never meant to live in an endless vacation on earth, and if I think that’s what I deserve, that’s entitlement.  But I’m not meant to have a mundane, boring life either!

 

So what do I do?  I have to pray and ask God for the right perspective, the perspective that HE has for my life.  I realized in my situation that I needed to repent to the Lord for my bitterness and resentment towards Him for the season of life that I’m in (again, I’m being blunt here).  When you don’t see exactly what you want to see, and things don’t happen in your life the way that you expect them to, you have to let go of your expectations and cling to what the Lord is doing.  Cling to Him.  It’s surprisingly easy, even if you deeply love the Lord, to fall into discouragement if you are focused on the wrong thing.  And what is the wrong thing?  The wrong thing is to focus on what God is NOT doing.

 

A few weeks ago, I wrote a song called Good & Better, the chorus of which goes like this:

“I will rest in what You’re doing, I will not be discouraged by what isn’t happening yet, cause You are actively pursuing, and You’re good and better than anything I could dream…”

 

The amazing thing is that the Lord gave me those lyrics personally as the perspective He wanted me to have in this season, and then two weeks later I heard Bill Johnson speak very similar words at a church I visited.  It brought so much confirmation to my heart:

“If you want to stay encouraged every day of your life, refuse to build your theology on what God isn’t doing, but on what He is!” – Bill Johnson

 

What a beautiful mindset to have – even when things aren’t going the way you want, you can lift up your desires to God and yet, still be thankful for what you DO have.  All of it is undeserved favor anyway.  🙂  He is so good to let us feel what we feel (our frustration with the monotony of it all), but then to speak truth and life into it (it’s going to be okay).  He is faithful to work all things together for good every single time.

 

I performed Good & Better, the song the Lord gave me, for my friends right next to the oldest Lighthouse in Great Britain on Southerness Beach in Scotland!  Don’t judge the quality – the wind was a constant gust, my fingers were chilled to the bone, I couldn’t remember the chords because I didn’t write the song in this key, I choked on air at one point while singing, and I had to rush and do it in one take because we almost missed our bus back home!  All in all, this was an extremely special and hilarious memory that I will cherish forever, and I don’t mind the imperfections one bit.  😉

 

Here is the song, and I pray it blesses you in your current season of waiting well with the Lord in whatever it is you’re waiting for.  It may be painful right now, but IT WILL BE WORTH IT:

 

Here are the lyrics for your reference:

Good & Better, Written by Amanda Rassamni

Comfort is something I’ve been searching for as long as I remember,

My words they fail, but what I feel drags on,

Time’s wasting, the noise and action pulling me along,

Are you moving?

Though I can’t see what I want to see, I will rest in You.

If You make me wait so I’ll seek Your face, I will rest in You.

And I will rest in what You’re doing,

I will not be discouraged by what isn’t happening yet,

Cause You are actively pursuing,

And You’re good and better than anything I could dream.

I will wait on the Lord and I will rise with wings as eagles, I will.

I will wait on the Lord and I will rise.