You know, the Word of God never ceases to amaze me. I mean, here I am reading the book of Ezra, whose events took place around 538 BC and the things that I’ve been reading about have been directly applying to my own life today! While they’re re-building a temple, I’m building a preschool. While their enemies are trying to stop them, my Enemy is trying to stop me.
Some people may ask how an ancient book can apply to my life today, and the best answer I can give them is, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit wrote the book in the first place, through the hand of Ezra. And the Holy Spirit sits with me every morning guiding me through His Words and pointing out the things that I need to hear.
In the beginning “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:2) I believe the same to be true today, that the Spirit of God hovers over the face of the Living Water of His Word. Hovering over them just waiting for you to open the pages and read. And like a Holy Highlighter as you read with Him He magnifies certain words and phrases, sometimes entire paragraphs, pages and even entire books. I have been relating so strongly with Ezra himself and the builders of the temple. The opposition, the disappointment they must have felt with each road block, the joy they then felt when they received the decree to continue the building with not only the king’s permission, but his support! It had to have been tremendous!
For the last four years I have been typing alone at this computer, sending these words out into cyberspace, unsure if anyone ever really reads them. And if they read them, does it change them, help them, hurt them? For the last four years I have attempted church program after church program after church program with no success. I have spoken to completely empty rooms many many times. Each time I fe1t strongly like I had been called by God to work on that particular program only to have no one show up. Well, I usually ended in a pool of tears and a world of hurt. But each time, I would pick myself back up off the floor of my pity party, dust myself off, and move on to the next thing the LORD called me to do. I never gave up. Honestly, I couldn’t give up. I love Him too much to stop trying and stop working toward the direction He is pointing me in. I stood, when all I wanted to do was sit and cry. I sat and prayed when all I wanted to do was stand and work. Each step of the way harder than the last, yet in some strange supernatural way made possible only through the Grace of God I kept stepping, kept going, kept trying, kept believing that maybe THIS time would be different than the last.
There’s a modern proverb, “stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.” You know, if it’s stupid to keep believing that God will do what He says He will do even when everything that I’ve ever tried has failed, well then, OK I’m stupid.
Last night I was crocheting on the couch watching a sermon by Joseph Prince on David. And he said something about David I’d never thought of. Before he was king of Israel, before he was a musician for Saul, before he was anointed king even, he was shepherd of sheep. And he would sit out there alone on those pasturelands and sing to the sheep and God heard him.
I don’t know what Joseph said after that, because that’s when I lost it. In that moment when I pictured good ole David out there perched up on a big rock, his feet tucked under him, elbows resting on his knees just singing his heart out to an audience of no one but those beloved stupid sheep. And the Holy Spirit replaced that image with an image of me in a room full of empty chairs and silence, perched on a barren stage preaching my little heart out, giving the message God had put on my heart in that moment. And He said,
“I was there”.
“I was there in all those empty rooms filled with silence and ME. I was there with you all those times when you thought you were so completely alone and scared and mad because no one else cared enough to show up; I did. I was there. You couldn’t see me through your anger and hurt, but I was there all the same. I was there, even when you couldn’t feel Me holding you or hear Me soothing you, I was there. I was there because I CARE ABOUT YOU. I care about what you care about; I love what you love, although I love you a lot more than you dare to love yourself.
All those times when you did what I told you to do even when it was hard and you weren’t very happy about it, I was there. I saw your pain, I saw your anger and I saw your frustration, yet you obeyed anyway. You were faithful in a little and that’s a BIG deal. You were faithful when it was hard and you didn’t want to do what I had told you to do, yet you did it anyway. That makes Me proud of you and the YOU you’ve become My darling.
Your years of struggling have made you stronger than you know. They’ve shown you the courage I can give when the hope of help seems so very far away. They’ve shown you that you really CAN do all things through Jesus who strengthens you. They’ve shown you that I really DO love YOU and not what you can do for Me. Your years of struggling and frustrated pain have NOT been for nothing! They have been a boot camp of sorts. A training ground to prepare you for the real task at hand, the salvation of many lives. To be given something big, you must first be faithful in the little things. Trust is built, not given. You’re number one strength is your trust in Me. Your trust in My love, in My forgiveness, in My power, in My Grace and My salvation in times of trouble. If you are not strong in your Trust of Me, then you are not ready to move on and you will remain where you are until a new level of Trust is reached.
Have I EVER proven Myself unfaithful to you? No, I’m not a genie in a bottle that grants your wishes regardless of how selfish or destructive they are. Not answering 100% of your prayers exactly the way that you pray them is not being unfaithful, it’s proving My sovereignty and My goodness. You have no idea how many times you have prayed things that if answered the way you prayed them they would have caused utter havoc in the world around you, more than what you were experiencing at the time. My “no’s” are never out of wrath or hatred or anger with you. Not ever.
My “no’s” are there to protect you and keep you on the path I have chosen for you. They are an opportunity for you to TRUST ME and to let go of your plans in order to make room for My bigger and better plans for you. I ALWAYS have your best interest at heart My love. Always. TRUST THAT, it’s the Truth. You might not always be the smartest sheep in the flock, but you’re My sheep and that’s what truly matters to Me.
Following My lead is never stupid, even if it may look that way to the others on the outside looking in at you and I sitting in a pain-filled empty room. I don’t think you’re stupid. Because you’re not. You’re mine, nothing else matters! Nothing else matters.