The Substance of things hoped for

Written by On Wednesday, 21 January 2015 10:58
The Substance of things hoped for

Nothing says New Year like a list of ten or so resolutions for the coming twelve months. Or how is it the Christians put it? Those things that you're 'trusting' God for. Your big dreams for the year, those goals that you'd like to have you have yours? All set, listed and maybe even crossed off some already . Or you're like me, had your list last year which amounted to naught, so you gave up on the whole idea. Yes, that was me in December, holding my breath so tight 'believing' that something could still happen to turn things around to my favor. Needless to say by 25th December I had resigned myself to the wasn't going to happen in 2014. As I prayed, asking God what the deal was, the answer came to me in a very simple way; just a sentence from God.

"You wanted it too much."

At first I feigned ignorance

‘’ Too much? What’s that supposed to mean? ’’

When that didn’t work, I denied it.

"Not me Lord, of course not me."  

However, when I decided to get off my hard headedness I did see what God was talking about. I visited a church the first Sunday of 2014, one of the things the MC asked us to do was to write down just one thing that we’d like God 'to do' for us, that thing you have been pining for and you know that only God can make it happen- kind of what Jim Collins calls the Big Hairy Audacious Goals. Which, I did of course like any good congregant would.

Have you ever desired something so much it consumed every hour of your thinking, was at the top of your prayer list every day, every promise in the scriptures suddenly became about this one thing, it was the first thing you mentioned when a friend asked to pray for you....and if they weren't apt enough to ask, you found a way to sneak it into the conversation, that 'prayer item' that had you taking twenty one day fasts every month, that ‘need’ that had you hopping from one prayer meeting to another, one miracle crusade to another seeking a prophetic word...a confirmation that indeed God was going to do that which you were trusting Him for...and when the preacher man said God would do "exceedingly and abundantly above" you got a tingly sensation in your heart. The thing that had you watching every word that came from your mouth lest what you spoke betrayed your unbelieving heart and kept you from receiving God’s best.

When these thoughts which I believe were the convictions of the Holy Spirit ran through my mind the only thing I could say was

"Well Lord, if you put it that way I guess you're kinda right."

Even at that point though I was still holding on to the idea that I couldn't possibly have been that bad could I? I thought by doing these things I was building my faith and showing God that I had enough of it for this miracle to happen for me.

Far be it from me to think that I could 'manipulate' God and his will for my life with my "great faith".

In showing me that I had focused on the gift rather than the giver a man of God was used. This past weekend I learned about "the place of detachment". Hebrews 11:8-10 gives us a snippet of the kind of lives the Jewish patriarchs lived. It says; by faith he (Abraham) became a sojourner in the land of promise, as in a [land] not his own, dwelling in tents, with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:

These three patriarchs shared the same promise and they were blessed immensely. They were wealthy men who chose to live nomadic lives...never set up permanent homes, why? Because he/they looked forward to the city which had the foundations, whose builder and architect is God. (11:10)

The tents were a sign of total reliance on God and a disconnection from the material and worldly, they knew that God could tell them to up and leave to another land at any point so they did not hold on to their property and their land was never really was all Gods wealth in their hands. Consider Abraham whom God asked to give up his beloved son, the son of promise and Abraham actually doing it...detachment.

‘’It was given to me yes, after much waiting and longing but; it is Gods first before it is mine.’’

 Our God is God other god; no other thing can take His place. So I asked myself, would God take something from me or deny me something because He could see that this 'thing' had taken His place in my life? Our God is a jealous God the good book teaches us. Our God also knows much better, what we need in our lives than we do. We must choose to trust him.

My understanding at this point was still a bit hazy, but our God as gracious as He is sent me another teaching by one of my favorite expositors, Jon Courson. The fourth chapter of the gospel of John gives an account about a royal official from Capernaum who had a sick son. When he heard that Jesus was in Galilee (a four hour walk from Capernaum) he went looking for this great healer. The bible tells us that it was about one o'clock in the afternoon when he met Jesus. After making his request Jesus tells him to go, that his son will live; at this point the bible says;

“The man took him at his word and went"

This is where it gets interesting. Imagine you were this man with a sick son who was near death back at home and this great healer had just declared that your son was well and healed what would you do at that point? Rush home... I'm thinking... I have to make sure that my son is actually healed...its not that I don't believe no...I’d just want to see my son well, as the healer had said he would be. I'd probably make that walk home declaring that my son was healed in Jesus name and mumbling every scripture on healing all the while thinking

 ‘I must get home and see it with my own eyes; I need to confirm that the healer's word was true....’

But not this royal official, if he'd gone back home at that point he would have been at his sons bedside by about five in the evening of the same day, but it wasn't until the next day at one o'clock that he made his way to Capernaum and met his servants who confirmed that his son was indeed alive and well.

So, the question is, what in the world was he doing for twenty four hours before going back home? Follow with me here. If he really did "take Jesus at his word" and believe his son was well, then there was no use hurrying back home was there? Because hey...his son was okay...most likely playing soccer (or whatever game it was kids played those days) with his friends. His urgent trip had just become a holiday. So...he probably took that chance to run a couple of errands, check himself in at the ‘Galilee Inn’ for a nights rest, woke up relaxed...had brunch and started his journey home at about midday.

Now, that's faith...that is complete trust in the word of God.

Back to my big hairy audacious prayers that were unfulfilled, what was God trying to tell me? That;

 1. I wanted it too much (but didn't that man want his son healed as much as I wanted my prayer answered)

2. My idea of 'exercising faith’ was ludicrous.

 These two lessons changed my whole approach to the New Year with all its resolutions, goals, objectives, promises, and prayers. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying don’t do it- there is always a sense of commitment and focus that comes from  deciding to zero in on a few things at any given time, writing them down also creates a burden of responsibility on you and the New Year is a great time to do this. But, we must always remember that God does not take our lists and magically make them come to pass no matter how much we want these things. He is not a wishing well. We must not allow ourselves to become totally consumed by the things we are ‘believing’ God for and forget the God that we believe in. He must at all times take centre stage. Anytime I personally find myself throwing a tantrum because a prayer I made did not get answered the way I wanted, it’s always a good sign that I need to check where my focus is; to detach from material and seek the spiritual. So, have your list...but at the back of your mind remember who is control of you and your list.

I am a believer as casting crowns sings that, knowing God, having a relationship with Him means that our hearts will always ache for things that are extra ordinary simply because He is an extra ordinary God. He does mighty things so when we trust Him for ‘big’ things it is just by nature. Trusting and asking God for big things takes big faith, I however learned that I had it all wrong on what this kind of faith looks like. I have learned that this kind of faith is not worrisome, it does not fret instead it is filled with peace, calmness and contentment. It is the kind of faith that God sees dwelling within us and is not characterized by chanting scriptures, fasting or attending miracle services. I am not saying doing these things is wrong, I am saying that doing these things in an attempt to show your faith and ‘make things happen’ is setting ourselves up for the kind of disappointment I went through last year. I know better now, I hope you do to.

May you have a greater revelation of who God is this year.



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