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 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 given her 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.

The Flip-Side to Hiddenness

I just came back from a week of much needed rest and adventure in Scotland, and wow.  Was it the best week of my life so far?  Probably.  Very much so.  Yes.  My time there with my friends got me thinking even more about the topic of Hiddenness, and I felt the Lord wanted to take me a little deeper into it (P.S. If you haven’t read my other blog on Hiddenness, now is good of a time as any to do so. :)).

 

Once we get the revelation that we’ll always feel hidden to the world, but that we are actually seen by the Creator of the Universe, it doesn’t stop there.  Knowing that we are seen by God is so assuring, so comforting, and so empowering, but I just can’t bring myself to believe that God would want me, or any of us, to each be an island alone with Him, even if no one else can truly satisfy our need to be understood.

 

So, what is our purpose?

 

I love what an old Pastor of mine used to say: the only reason why Jesus didn’t take us to Heaven immediately when we accepted Him (whenever we realized that He saved us and sees us), is because He wanted us to share Him with the world.  It’s so simple, and yet so profound if you really think about it.  Now that I realize that I can’t be satisfied by being seen, valued, and acknowledged by others, but find all of that fulfillment in God, I know that I can go to Him with everything, no matter what I feel.  However, my eyes have also now been opened to the fact that so many other people struggle with these feelings without any safe place at all.  The feeling of being hidden.  Misunderstood.  Unloved.  They don’t know yet that there is a God who sees them, knows them, and loves them.

 

So, what can I do?

 

My purpose, my responsibility, my job description is to see those who don’t feel seen.  I, who once felt so hidden (and still can to a certain extent as no one understands me the way the Lord does), am now in a place where I can actually recognize and see people who struggle with those very same feelings of hiddenness, and love on them there.  That is why we can’t just stay isolated in our personal relationship with God, no matter how blessed and wonderful it is.  He longs for us to reach out and minister to others, who have not yet come to that place.

 

I love how Jesus revealed to me that He knew more than me what hiddenness feels like.  He is God, and yet He lived as a man.  No one understood the path that He had to take, and the life that He chose to live.  Even His own brother did not believe in Him while He was alive!  He must have suffered with feeling lonely among the people in the world, but He did not suffer for long, because He knew His Father was with Him.  🙂  He also lived to serve others.  He truly saw who they were, and the potential they held, and He loved them to it.  He became a safe place for those who felt hidden, and He is our example.  He is the One who taught Paul, who wrote on and on (I’m reading all of his letters in the New Testament in order right now) to the churches that he established and started, sometimes with tears and sadness, and sometimes with the greatest joy and gladness.  He was teaching, and teaching, and teaching, and pouring out, and pouring out, and pouring out.  He wasn’t even married, which is a relationship in this world that, if done God’s way, can be such a safe space of encouragement and partnership in love, and not to mention, he suffered with great attacks and obstacles by himself.  I can imagine that there were times when he struggled deeply with feeling hidden and misunderstood.

 

You know what I believe he did in those times though?  He surrendered his right to be known to this world, began to know and be known by God, and helped others to come to this revelation as well.  This is why his one goal in life, his one mission and joy, was to spur others on in recognizing that they are seen by the Lord – because he had discovered this so much for himself.  This is why he poured his heart and soul into the Church and its people everywhere he went.  This is why he prayed for people in the streets and taught in the synagogues.  This is why he did not stop when he was hit with so much suffering and pain.  First, he was truly satisfied in the Lord, and second, he realized that there was more to his life than just him.  He followed Jesus’ example.

 

If you realize that you feel hidden, and just stay feeling way, what does that accomplish?  Nothing but turning you into an emotional sap who always feels sorry for yourself and is no good to anybody – that’s what.  We’ve got to move past the highs and lows of our emotions and see our lives the way that God sees them.  Even when you suffer with something that’s painful, when you see it the way that God does, He doesn’t ignore that it is painful, but He somehow makes it bearable – giving you hope, courage, and strength to make it through even what once seemed impossible.

 

So, what is the flip-side to hiddenness?

 

It’s knowing that you are not the only one who feels the way you feel.  It’s deciding to pour your heart out before the Lord, and to receive the healing that He longs and loves to give, but it’s also deciding not to be an island there.  Our lives mean so much more than for us to just satisfy our physical and emotional needs and then let them be over.  We are first called to be satisfied in the Lord and make Him our safe place, and second, we are called to become a safe place to others who don’t know Him yet.  The flip-side to hiddenness is that you are not alone in it.  Everyone is looking to be seen and heard and loved.

 

Why not let YOUR eyes that notice, YOUR ears that listen, and YOUR heart that has compassion show them the way through Jesus to the One true God who is able to give them everything they’re looking for?

Hiddenness

I typically like to play worship music as I’m working or doing mindless things for the sole purpose of basically forcing my mind to wander back to the Lord – what He’s saying and what He’s doing.  I love when He speaks to my heart when I’m not even expecting it.  This happened two nights ago.  A song was playing in the background and I wasn’t really paying attention, until I heard someone on the recording encourage the audience to try to recognize what they were feeling in God’s Presence, just so they could be more aware of how He was meeting with them in that moment.  My ear was immediately tuned in, so I asked the Lord to help me understand what I feel when I’m in His Presence.  Not a second passed by when I heard Him say:

 

“You feel seen.”

 

Seen…to be seen.  What does that mean?  Here are some of my favorite definitions from Merriam Webster:

 

  • to perceive by the eye :  to perceive or detect as if by sight
  • to have experience of :  to come to know :  discover
  • to form a mental picture of :  visualize :  to perceive the meaning or importance of :  understand :  to be aware of :  recognize :  to imagine as a possibility
  • examine, watch :  read
  • to take care of :  provide for :  to make sure, see that order is kept
  • to regard as
  • to call on :  visit (1) :  to keep company with, especially in courtship (2) :  to grant an interview to
  • to give or pay attention

 

I realized in that moment with perfect clarity that when I am in God’s Presence, when I am worshiping Him, with my eyes fixed on Him, I somehow feel and sense His eyes on me as well.  That’s what it’s like to worship the God of the Universe.  He is so close and tangible, and I know His loving eyes and His smile are on me.  There is nothing like it.  I am seen all the time everywhere I go by other people, but to be seen and to be known and understood, without honestly even saying words, now that is something completely different altogether.  Worship is not about me, but I cannot deny that worshiping Jesus affects everything about who I am.

 

To explain how much this revelation means to me, let me just say that I feel I’m in a season right now of hiddenness, not being able to be fully seen as I want to be.  I was kind of feeling sorry for myself and complaining about it to the Lord, wondering when it would be over, when He showed me that I’ve actually felt that way for a while…my entire life.  When something has been a part of your experience for as long as you can remember, it may not simply be a season.  The Lord may be teaching you something deeper – a lesson about who He is, and what you’re made for.  A lesson that will last a lifetime…

 

I was made to be known and understood.  I have always desired it, and I know that it is at the core of every human being’s heart.  This is why relationships are so pushed and pressed in our culture (and churches) today.  They are made to look like the be-all, end-all of successful, happy living, and being known.  It is not wrong, but…it’s not enough.  No one can satisfy you because no one can fully understand you.  It’s hard to admit, but no matter how many years you spend with a person, even someone that you truly love and study and admire, you will never be able to completely read their minds, and they will never be able to completely read yours.  This desire to be seen and known is not a desire that is able to be fulfilled on this earth, solely with earthly resources and relationships.  It’s much bigger than that.

 

So, what is the Lord speaking to me, and possibly to you too?

 

I am not only in a season of hiddenness – that’s actually the place where I live.  In this world, no human can ever fully understand us the way we all want to be understood.  We can grow and increase our communication styles, try to express ourselves as clearly as we possibly can, and we can still not fully get across what we’re trying to say.  Therefore, why do we desire that so much?  It has to be because that is available to us.  Because that is who God is for us.  He sees us and He knows and understands us.  Hiddenness is not a curse.  It is a gift and reminder that no one sees us the way the Lord does.

 

Whether I am in a crowded room or by myself, and whether or not I am feeling loved or understood or I am looking to be – He is there.  He wants to show me that He is the only One who can truly satisfy my soul.  Even years down the road, when I have been blessed with a family of my own, the deepest part of who I am will still desire to be known and loved and understood by the God who sees me.  A husband can’t satisfy that, children can’t satisfy that, and friends can’t satisfy that.  I have the Answer today though.  It’s Him.  In every season, He sees me and He loves me.  He searches me and knows me.  He searches out my path.  He knows when I sit and when I rise.  He perceives my thoughts from afar.  He is my Father, His eyes are on me, and nothing can separate me from His love.

 

I’m also learning that God LOVES hidden things: hidden beauty, hidden treasure, hidden revelation.  I did a little search in my Bible of all of the verses that contain the word hidden.  This is what I found:

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” – Proverbs 25:2

“And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness–secret riches.  I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.” – Isaiah 45:3

“For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God.” – Colossians 3:3

“But let (your beauty) be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which [is not anxious or wrought up, but] is very precious in the sight of God.” – 1 Peter 3:4

 

It is His great pleasure to hide me; to conceal me in His Presence.  There are things that only He and I can share.  He absolutely loves for His children to go into their rooms and shut their door to meet and speak with Him alone.  Hiddenness is not a hindrance to real relationship.  Being hidden in the Lord is the most real relationship there is.  There’s something precious in Him allowing us to being hidden in order for us to grow in Him even more, because when I feel the most hidden, I am actually seen.

 

Some more verses about the beauty of hiddenness:

“But when you pray, go into your inner room, shut your door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” – Matthew 6:6

“His glory covered the heavens and the earth was full of His praise.  And His brightness was like the sunlight; rays streamed from His hand, and there [in the sunlike splendor] was the hiding place of His power.” – Habakkuk 3:3-4

“At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.  Yes, Father, for this is what You were pleased to do.” – Matthew 11:25

“And great and important and weighty, we confess, is the hidden truth (the mystic secret) of godliness. He [God] was made visible in human flesh, justified and vindicated in the [Holy] Spirit, was seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, [and] taken up in glory.” – 1 Timothy 3:16

  • Just want to pause here to say: Who understood hiddenness more than Jesus Himself? Fully God, fully man, more often than not misunderstood by the people that He loved – YET, He kept His consolation in the Father because He knew He always had His eyes on Him.  He is our Teacher and our Model, and He understands everything that we feel and go through.

“He who is able to hear, let him listen to and heed what the Spirit says to the assemblies (churches). To him who overcomes (conquers), I will give to eat of the manna that is hidden, and I will give him a white stone with a new name engraved on the stone, which no one knows or understands except he who receives it.” – Revelation 2:17

“So do not make any hasty or premature judgments before the time when the Lord comes [again], for He will both bring to light the secret things that are [now hidden] in darkness and disclose and expose the [secret] aims (motives and purposes) of hearts.  Then every man will receive his [due] commendation from God.” – 1 Corinthians 4:5

You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word.” – Psalm 119:114

“How abundant are the good things that You have stored up for those who fear You,
that You bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in You.  In the shelter of Your presence You hide them from all human intrigues; You keep them safe in Your dwelling from accusing tongues.” – Psalm 31:19-20

 

And this one got me.  Check this out:

You are my hiding place;
You will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with My loving eye on you.

– Psalm 32:7-8

 

What is sad about hiddenness if it brings me into greater revelation of the One who sees me?  Let me stay hidden forever before I miss His gaze

 

So, I make this my prayer:

Keep me as the apple of Your eye;

hide me in the shadow of Your wings.”

– Psalm 17:8

“So she called the name of the Lord Who spoke to her, You are a God of seeing, for she said, Have I [not] even here [in the wilderness] looked upon Him Who sees me [and lived]?  Or have I here also seen [the future purposes or designs of] Him Who sees me?  Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi [A well to the Living One Who sees me]…”

– Genesis 16:13-14

Surrender the Building Plans

 “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.”

– Psalm 127:1

“Spirit break out, break our walls down!  Spirit break out, Heaven come down!”

– Kim Walker-Smith

 

I’ve come to realize recently that the most interesting stories tend to be the most drawn out, detailed, and delayed.  I don’t know why things seem to happen so slowly sometimes, but in relation to my personal story that seems to be a little bit delayed at the moment, my mom (one of my very best friends) shared something with me recently that has been hitting me hard.  I would like to share it with you:

 

“Maybe the reason you haven’t seen your dreams come to fruition yet is because God is wanting to bless you even more as a result of the delay.”

 

Wow.  What a crazy thought.  Even the possibility of this being the case is truly amazing to me.  I’ve personally struggled with the delays, but isn’t the God of the Bible beautiful?  I can know without a shadow of a doubt that He is a Rewarder of the one who diligently seeks Him, and that He will reward me (Hebrews 11:6).  My short life with my short-lived frustrations really shouldn’t affect Him at all, however, for some reason, what I feel affects Him, and more than just let it affect Him, He takes it ON.  He has forever linked Himself to me, and is not ashamed to call me family (Hebrews 2:11).  He created me for a purpose – life and life abundant, and He does not desire or have any less for me (John 10:10).

 

Abundant life doesn’t mean a life lived on my own pleasure, but a life that is lived to love and serve Him, and somehow in between that in His great kindness, all of my truest and deepest desires are fulfilled in Him (Psalm 37:4).  This is what it looks like to be a Christian.  I lay down my life for who and what I can’t see yet, but know and have already been made confident of, and I wait until the day when all will be manifested fully.  That doesn’t mean however that I don’t, just like the rest of the world, struggle sometimes not being able to see it yet.  With that being said, I want to share a dream the Lord gave me a year and a half ago that He recently reminded me of:

 

One morning, as it was just about time for me to get up, I had a dream that I was holding a blueprint in my left hand, and a list of building materials in my right hand.  The blueprint in my left hand looked like it was just a quick, sketch drawing of a wall, and the only building material listed on the page in my right hand that I could see was lumber.  I then looked up to the sky with these two papers in my hand, and said, “God, this is how I want You to build the Tabernacle!”

 

I immediately woke up, shocked at myself for my audacity towards God in my dream, but I somehow felt that He was convicting me of something more than what I had just dreamt about.  Since my philosophy is to listen to the Lord’s voice whenever He reveals something to me, even if it hurts, I began to genuinely ask Him what my dream could mean for His and my relationship.  Here is what He gently showed me:

 

The Tabernacle in the Bible was not just a structure or a building.  It was built for the sole purpose of hosting God’s Glory and Presence, and was therefore specifically and meticulously described in detail by the Lord to His people in order to truly bring Him the most glory.  Every single detail was chosen by God and spoken to Moses on the mountain, exactly the way that it was supposed to be done (see Exodus 25-31).  God hands didn’t necessarily do the work, but He did perfectly and powerfully equip His people to do it with His skill and creativity (Exodus 35-39).

 

Why all the detail?  What was the significance?

 

The Tabernacle on earth was meant to be a prophetic representation of what was in Heaven – every detail filled with overflowing beauty, power, and meaning.  Every detail mirrored who God was and is, and He was to be absolutely, 100%, completely glorified in it.

 

So, how does this relate to my story, or to me?

 

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 6:19 that my body is a temple (or Tabernacle) of the Holy Spirit, who is in me, who I have received from God, and that I am not my own.  I have the Holy Spirit so that I can hear His voice, and I am not meant to just hear Him, but to follow Him.  Therefore the Lord made it clear to me that again, like the Tabernacle, He has ordained me for great purposes – I am called to bring Him great glory.  Every detail of my life is significant, and He has beautiful plans for all of them.  I do have free will to make my own choices, and I don’t have to be afraid, if I’m trying to do the right thing, of making mistakes that will forever alter my fate (see 3rd blog post on La La Land), however, if I really want the best that God has for me, I will wait and listen for His voice in all things.  I will obey Him in every detail.

 

This revelation rocked my world.  Why?  Because I realized that what I truly desire from the Lord is already mine, and will be reflected on the earth as I take every step in Him.  He really does have what’s best for me, and He wants it for me more than I could ever even want it for myself.  I just have to keep my eyes fixed on Him for every detail, and every step, of my every day.  Is this exhausting?  No, because the commands of the Lord are not burdensome (1 John 5:3)!  Psalm 119:45 says “I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out Your precepts.” Following God’s steps for my life is actually what removes all burdens and hindrances from me.  The things that used to chain me up and drag me down can no longer do so when I get my perspective right and really line my steps up with what He is asking me to do.  When I seek God’s will for my life, and not my own, yes, I may experience some uncomfortable delays, but they are never unnecessary because they truly bring me to the best that I’ve been desiring! 

 

I also realized that God is the One who is supposed to give the steps…not me.  Did I mention that, in my dream, the blueprint that I was telling the Lord I wanted my Tabernacle to look like was actually a sketch of a wall?  I boldly and with audacity looked up to God and basically said, “I don’t care what it is You’re doing, or what You have for me.  Even though this Tabernacle is actually for You, all I can see is what I want right now, and this is what it is.”

 

A wall.

 

Really?  If I relate my life to this sketch, a wall is quick to build and easy to put up.  A wall takes no effort, no time, no planning, no perspective, and no passion.  A wall is basically useless outside of a building.  Why would I want my life to resemble a wall?  What I really want is a life filled to the brim and completely overflowing with the MOST meaning, the MOST purpose, the MOST passion, and intentionality, and beauty.  If that is what I truly want then, why would I ever settle for just a wall?

 

God is showing me through my Pastor (Dustin Bates), through my parents, and through my experiences, that when I really want the best and am willing to wait on Him, He will give it to me little by little so that I am strong enough to actually carry it, I know what it is I am waiting for, and I will not settle for less (Exodus 23:30).  I will NOT settle for less.  It is an honor for me to allow the Lord to knock down all of my petty walls (my low-level expectations) when I realize that He has so much more and so much better for me.  He wants to blow me away, and I believe Him!  Why would I not?  I have seen what it looks like to try to attain things my own way, and even if I attain them for a season, it never lasts.

 

If you want the best, you want a story that will last.  There’s nothing better than the true fulfillment of a promise.  So, I am here to remind you:

 

Don’t give up too soon.  God is building the foundation of your Tabernacle so that the rest can stand firm, and you can keep what He gives you.  In time, you’ll see His wisdom and kindness in making you wait while He grew your character and patience in Him.

 

He is faithful, and He will be faithful to you.  You can trust Him.