Life doesn’t always go to our perfect plan. There are speedbumps and delays and challenges to what we really believe. Have you ever found that your believing wasn’t as strong as you thought? What about dreams that have taken so long that all hope has dissipated? What do you do when faith runs out? Here’s a piece of my journey…
In July 2009 we received a prophetic word from Shawn Bolz that we would be in the USA for an extended period of time and that our Greencards (permanent resident status) would be easy. This confirmed what God had been saying to us personally and gave a huge shot of faith and confidence that God was with us and we weren’t crazy. My faith – the substance of what I hoped for – was fully engaged and overflowing in the expectation that we would receive our Greencards through the VISA lottery the very next year.
We counted down the days. We made faith declarations and regularly thanked God for what He had done and was doing. The day finally came where the winner’s were announced…..boom……we lost. What!!!????
“Hey God, did you forget to do what you told us you would do?”
We were disappointed but consoled ourselves that it must be the next year… We re-entered, prayed and celebrated with joyful anticipation of good news. We waited til May 2011 when surely our names would be chosen. May came… and went, with another negative result.
“God, I thought you said this would be easy – those were your specific words.”
“Are you messing with us????” “This is not fun!”
We started to second guess ourselves and figure that maybe it meant we would have an easy-process through the long-way to get a green card: apply for a religious visa, work for two years, pay about $10,000 in legal fees and apply for the permanent residence. But in the back of my mind that didn’t line up with the prophetic word. Easy???
We re-entered the Greencard Lottery for the fourth time in october 2011. Along came May 2012 and the hope was so low that neither of us even remembered to check until a few days after the result. I was away on an overnight trip and Janine looked it up online. Needless to say her screaming delight could be heard half a block away! She could hardly contain herself calling me to tell me the good news. So how did this long-awaited God-outcome impact me?
Me? I didn’t feel anything. Wow! I just wanted to know what we had to do next. I was afraid to believe it was real….
In reality I had lost hope (or faith) that God was really going to do what He said He would do.
Wow, what did that say about my faith… or lack of it? Disappointment had eroded my joyful anticipation of good to the point where, when good happened, there was no correlating response in my heart.
What about you?
What areas of your life have had hope and faith eroded?
What promises have been reduced to faint whispers (or empty echoes) because of hope deferred?
After examining my heart and asking our Heavenly Father to soften my heart I ‘happened’ to stumble on the story how Jesus treated His disciples when they didn’t believe He had risen from the dead (Mark 16).
Jesus first appears to Mary and she screams in awe and delight and rushes to tell the other disciples. These powerful, world-changing apostles who only a couple chapters earlier were arguing about who was most powerful, “…did not believe” (Mark 16:11). Next, Jesus appears to two of their own and they are shocked and overjoyed to tell the apostles. “But they did not believe them either” (Mark 16:13).
So Jesus appears to the disciples Himself as they are having dinner. He rebukes them for their unbelief and hardness of heart. Ouch. But what happens next it was rocks me most…. He commissions them to go change the world. “Go preach Me to all nations. Tell them about Me. Those who BELIEVE will be saved…. These signs will follow those who BELIEVE….”
The unbelieving, hard-hearted, disappointed disciples were transformed into world-changing apostles through one encounter with Jesus. They didn’t believe but they would tell the world and the world WOULD BELIEVE….
You are evidence of that.
So what’s the moral of the story?
1. God is faithful.
If we are faithless He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. 2 Timothy 2:13.
His timing often looks different to ours but He will NEVER fail you. He IS faithful. Remember who He is. He is the God who guides us; the Everlasting Father who never grows tired or weary; our Comforter; our Strength; our Peace.
Remember your journey and repeat the stories of God showing up with you (or with others) … setting up an ambush for God to do it again.
2. One encounter with Jesus changes you from faithless, unbelieving, disappointed…. to faith-filled, power-flowing, world changer.
What’s stopping you asking Him to join you for dinner right now? Just ask. He is really good at responding when we call.