My mind became very busy after I awoke this morning. I reached recklessly for my cell phone on the table next to the bed and touched the screen to light up the time. “5:05 AM Sunday, August 4, 2013” Once I noticed the time, I felt committed to begin my day. Prior to looking at the time however, I had already been processing for a while somewhere inside my sleepy self.
It is interesting how the waking moments can become a “thin place” of hearing the Voice of God. It is apparent that there is a part of me actually communicating with Him. “A thin place” is an ancient Celtic belief, where the boundary between heaven and earth is especially thin. It’s a place where we can sense the divine more readily.[i] I have noticed there are specific places like that but none so consistent as when coming out of a REM stage of sleeping where I had been experiencing dreaming.
As I lay there thawing out in the sheets, I waited for my mind to catch up to my spirit, which had already been quite active. It was as if I had my own private movie theatre so I could watch previews of coming attractions. Except none of the upcoming films appealed to me. The images looked negative and none too favorable. Actually, they were the opposite outcome of what I believed God for. But then another thought came to me… this is a test.
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”[ii] So, this test is an opportunity for “great joy.” Not just a smile, or warm fuzzy feeling, but “Great” joy. How do I accept this as truth when I don’t know where my family will be living in less than a month and I have no official employment to leverage a deal?
How can I reconcile the facts that exist, to the truths I believed? God has promised in His word that according to the apostle Paul, “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.[iii] When we sold our home of seventeen years and left our ministry and careers to pursue our High Call, we stood on the promise Jesus made about leaving houses for His sake.
“And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life.” Jesus Himself said that. We seriously could use one of those houses right now, I was thinking to myself.
I was feeling the frustration mounting of not having steady income. After all, I reasoned, I need housing accommodations, I need to pay tuition, we have bills… ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ Wait, these are things Jesus said, “Don’t worry about those things… your daddy knows you need them. But seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.”
Truth. One of the more challenging times in our journey with God, is learning to be comfortable with mystery. Keeping our faith strong and heart at peace in the “in-between place,” is a crucial discipline to embrace. The in-between place is a place where truth is held in tension, between a need and the fulfillment of a promise.
It is one thing to obey God and live a life of faith, when our most pressing needs are satisfied. It is another thing altogether to live your life of faith according to the revelation you received, but having not received the desired outcome. I feel the swell of doubt trying to exalt itself over the revelation of the goodness of God. My doubt, like a prosecuting attorney, has so much circumstantial evidence to build a case. But to trust God only when a favorable outcome is guaranteed isn’t faith that pleases Him.
My heart rests when I choose to believe He is intentional in His interaction in our lives. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”[iv] So, because I can’t see how a promise will be met, should I “cast away my confidence” and consider Him unfaithful? Isn’t living with mystery what a life of faith is all about?
Just an hour ago, my 14 year old daughter asked me to take her to Target to make an exchange of something she had purchased. Feeling a sense of urgency since she wasn’t empowered by a license to drive herself, she wanted a commitment from me. When I assured her I would drive her there in the afternoon, she let out a deep sigh of relief.
As peace settled her stormy agitation, she skipped out of my room onto her next activity. Her daddy promised her, so she could release the burden of an unresolved issue. She is now living comfortably in the in-between place. She is at peace knowing her daddy promised her, and I have a happy heart because she counted me faithful to my word. Trust like this is the fabric of relationship.
So beyond a trust issue, I also believe when our faith is tested, there is something deeper being worked into our character. We already looked at a verse about endurance, but I also believe a deep hunger also is stirred. Hunger is necessary because hunger assures that we will be faithful to steward the answer once it is birthed. We don’t always do well when our answers come to us easily.
Consider Hannah, the mother of Samuel the Prophet. She was barren and without hope of barring children apart from a miracle. In her desperation, a hunger was birthed in her that helped her fulfill her destiny. She presented the child she had birthed through her pain back to the Lord. When miracles and ministries are birthed through desperation, we tend to treasure them more than if no price had been paid.
Bill Johnson tells a story of a prophecy he received from Mario Murillo twenty years ago. It came to him during the years when Bill felt the frustration of living in the tension of “theory without fruit”. Bill hadn’t seen any miracle of healing in spite of believing for them after praying for many people. Mario referred to the story of Hannah and her closed womb referring to Bill’s present season of desperation.
He said, “God has closed up the realm of the miraculous to you, not as punishment, but to draw you into the desperation needed to maintain it as a lifestyle once you received your breakthrough.” This testimony is inspiring consider the realm of the miraculous that Bill stewards so well in his ministry today. Entire nations are impacted by his obedience to the revelation he embraced and contended for.
So, as I sit here today in my virtual barrenness, I am left to ponder my own motivations for wanting to experience breakthrough in Supernatural Provision. Am I looking for God to come through because I merely need a place for my family in the next month or is there something more? Yes, of course we need the promised provision, but in contending for this “miracle”, I believe we will open up a new realm that we can help other people experience for themselves.
My conclusion to the matter after processing, while enjoying my morning cup of French Roast, is I am right where God wants me. I am responding to an invitation to embrace His realm of the miraculous which includes being comfortable with mystery. Truth needs to be held in tension. Wisdom, and not reasoning apart from God, is the operating system, which allows us to process these tensions.
When we grapple with truths held in tension with wisdom, faith is released in our hearts that positions us to bless the world around us. The testing of our faith produces something glorious. Remember, this is only a test and this kind of test I am reminded, is taken with great joy!
[ii] James 1:2-4 NLT
[iii] Philippians 4:19 NLT
[iv] Romans 8:28 NLT