Helping God’s plans along

Almost 16 years ago, I received a prophecy about something that was going to happen in what seemed like the near future. Thinking that this thing was going to happen in months after it was spoken, I started to look every where for signs. Everybody I came into contact with, I treated like they were my “destiny helper”; the conduit through whom this prophecy would be fulfilled. Over the years, I have put myself in very precarious situations trying to help God’s plan along.

Today I was thinking about the past 15 years and 9 months and realized I have not waited well for the fulfillment of God’s promises in my life. Here are two things I have done that I strongly encourage you NOT to do while waiting on God:

  • I have wavered between faith and doubt- In times of faith, I have clung to those words and prayed steadfastly asking God for a physical manifestation of what has already been accomplished in the spirit. I have thanked God for the things he has already done and used them as anchor points to secure my hope and expectations in God’s faithfulness, that He indeed is the same yesterday , today and forever. However, in times of doubt, I have asked myself if God really spoke. I have also made assumptions that the person through which this prophecy came perhaps never heard from God at all and made it all up. I have blamed myself for perhaps having itchy ears and in so doing, being susceptible to deception. Last week, I was reminded of this image of Elijah standing on Mount Carmel admonishing the Israelites sternly, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him. But if Baal is God, follow him” (1 Kings 18:20 BSB). James makes it clear that wavering between doubt and faith results in receiving nothing:

…But he must ask in faith, without doubting, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways

James 1: 6-8 BSB
  • I have tried to help God along– I met this guy a few months after the prophecy and even though others had warned me to stay clear of him, I remember my response being, “what if this was the person that God was going to use to fulfill that prophecy?” Well, needless to say, this guy was indeed trouble and my worse nightmare ever! He most certainly was not God’s conduit for anything…just a conduit of woes for me! You’d think that I would have learnt my lesson but no… as weeks became months; and the months years, I have justified helping God’s plan along by saying things like perhaps “this is how God intended to fulfil this prophecy” or ” God did not mean this…perhaps He meant that instead”. Today, I was reminded of Sarah who had a very similar conversation with her husband: Now Abram’s wife Sarai had borne him no children, but she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “Look now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Please go to my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So after he had lived in Canaan for ten years, his wife Sarai took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to Abram to be his wife. And he slept with Hagar, and she conceived. But when Hagar realized that she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress” (Genesis 16:1- 4 BSB). Sarah, after waiting for God for so long, decided to build her family some other way and even though she was blessed with a child through Hagar, this was not God’s intended plan and this blessing brought her more than she bargained for! But we know this of God’s true blessings for us, which is why we should not attempt to help God’s plan along:

The blessing of the LORD enriches, and He adds no sorrow to it.

Proverbs 10:22 BSB

This week, I asked God why after trying to help him along for 15 years, I have failed to see the fulfillment of the prophecy and He reminded me that like everyone of His children, He has chosen to showcase me and nothing I can conceive in my heart or mind can be as great and as elaborate as His purpose coming to pass in my life in His own time! Although it was impressive that Sarah was able to start a family with Abraham through Hagar at such an old age, it was even more so impressive and a wonder to the world that she was able to conceive her own child at an even older age! That is what God wants for you:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

1 Peter 2:9 NASB

So be encouraged, in God’s own time He will accomplish and perfect everything that concerns you.

Yours Truly

From Clay to Masterpiece

In my last post, I started on this train of thought of the messiness of life and how God wants to get in the middle of our mess; because we were made from dust and dust is messy and God always remembers that we are dust (if you did not catch that post you can do so by clicking this link). This week, I will remain on that soapbox a little while longer and dwell in the mystery of that..

So a couple weeks ago, I was really wrestling with myself and with God about the bout of unanswered prayers that have been staring me tauntingly in the face and at some point I concluded within myself that it was pointless to pray, convincing myself that God will do whatever He wants anyway. In not wanting to lose my place in my daily bible readings, I still picked up my bible, not expecting to hear from God but just to go through the motions and get it over with But God decided to speak to me anyway. Here was the verse that jumped out at me from my readings:

“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?’

Isaiah 45:9 NLT

This scripture hit me in a unique way and even though I did not want to engage in dialogue with God at the time, this scripture has stayed in the recesses of my mind. The reason it was so significant was that before I started reading my bible, I was lamenting within myself about “if only God would do this or do that then I would be in a better place” In essence, I was saying to God, “you are doing it wrong! I think there is a better way you can be taking care of me!” You see, a few days earlier, I had read this scripture also (I read it in the NIV but I am posting the NLT version because that really brings the point home):

How foolish can you be? He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay! Should the created thing say of the one who made it, “He didn’t make me”? Does a jar ever say, “The potter who made me is stupid”?

Isaiah 29:16 NLT

Wow! such a harsh dose of reality! I am but clay in God’s hands although sometimes.. ok.. many times.. I have acted as though I hold all the cards! I act as though I am the boss of God and his sole purpose is to do my bidding…speak of a pot thinking it is better that the potter and knows how best it should be formed. While such complacent thinking definitely calls for repentance on my part, truth is clay needs to be workable in the hands of the potter- its not always all up to the potter. Sometimes I watch videos of potters at work behind the wheel (because that is so relaxing) and sometimes the pottery do not turn out the way the potter intended. Usually, good potters do not give up on the clay. They will either start afresh or work with the clay to redesign the pottery- with the end goal of a masterpiece. This illustration reminds me of a scripture:

The LORD gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, “Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.” So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over. Then the LORD gave me this message: “O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand. 

Jeremiah 18: 1-6 NLT

Reading that scripture in context points to the place a surrendered will has in the creation of a masterpiece. God’s intention and plan for everyone is a plan for good and not evil to give each of us a future and a hope (Jer 29:11). The part we play in this is plan is to surrender ourselves to the will of the potter (God’s will) so that as he works with the clay (us) at the wheel (life’s circumstances), we turn out to be the masterpiece He intentioned. So back to my misguided thought that God will do whatever He want anyway so why bother pray?

One of the primary purposes of prayer is to align our will with God’s. Jesus taught us to pray saying, “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. Aligning our will with God’s in prayer is even more important when we find ourselves in a dark place; a place of hopelessness, depression, desperation, disappointment, or despair. When instead of a beautiful pot I turn out to just be a lump of clay, that is ok, as long as I am still in the potter’s hand… He will turn this clay into a masterpiece.

Yours truly

Making peace with the missing pieces

In my last post I shared at length about how sometimes I get anxious and how I am trying to work on letting God “take the wheel” in my life. This week I encountered a situation that left me spiraling again and someone said to me “just sit in the awkwardness”… What a weird piece of advice for someone who stresses about everything! The next day, I caught a few minutes of Steve Furtick’s sermon and he said “we need to make peace with the missing pieces”. That night, I picked up my bible and this is the verse that was on my readings for the day:

This is what the Lord says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea…”

Isaiah 48: 17-18 NIV

Coincidence? I think not! You see a few days ago, I got so overwhelmed, I was feeling like perhaps praying had outlived its usefulness in my life. I did not even know where to start in the place of prayer so I decided not to bother. I was feeling very discontent with a few things in my life: health of my loved ones, finances, parenting choices, progress in my studies, the state of my career, marriage- everything was under a microscope and I was grossly discontent. This left me feeling defeated and devoid of peace- yes like there are missing pieces in every aspect of my life! And if you know me, I like things neat and tidy and metaphorically wrapped up in a bow, I do not do missing pieces well. In my despair, the scripture above hit me hard and touched me deep…. “I am the Lord your God who teaches you what is best for you and directs you in the way you should go and if only you had listened then you would have had peace like a river and you would have wellness of mind, body , soul and spirit like the waves of the sea”

As I reflected on the root cause of my anxiety and despair, I realized it mostly stems from unrealized expectations, broken dreams, unanswered prayers- pretty much life not going the way I hope and envisioned (which reminds me of my last post about hope. If you have not read it here is the link). Truth is life is messy and that’s just it! We were created from messiness- from the dust of the earth- by a God who did not call us forth from the dust but who got down and dirty in the dust to make us. So whenever life feels messy, who else can you turn to but God?

As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.

Psalm 103:13-14 NIV

As I was walking away from the TV screen pondering over Steve Furtick’s statement about making peace with the missing pieces, he said “has it ever occurred to you that that missing piece is a piece only God can fill?” I have not stopped thinking about that statement in light of everything else I have shared. I know sometimes it is hard to turn to God, particularly when you feel He has disappointed you- by not answering a particular prayer, or leaving your hopes dashed or your dreams unfulfilled. But remember, while all we see are the pieces of our lives and the things that don’t fit, God sees the full picture. Which is why He says, if only you had listened to me, then your peace would have been like a river- in spite of what seems missing in your life because He sees the full picture. For thus says the Lord: “before you were formed, I knew you and from your mother’s womb I spoke your name, see I have engraved you in the palm of my hands and your walls are ever before me (Isaiah 49:1, 16; Jeremiah 1:5). So my question to you is “will you sit still in the awkwardness of life for just a moment longer?”; “will you make peace with the missing pieces of your life by finding peace in the Prince of Peace?”

Yours Truly