Friday, March 3, 2017

"On Fire": Avoid IMPATIENCE. Stop WORRYING. Don't TORMENT Yourself.

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"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love."---I John 4:18(NKJV)

So...

In the wee hours of this morning, I received an email from someone who had written me a couple of weeks before.  She graciously granted me permission to share (anonymously) share parts of it. Once you check it out, you'll probably understand, off top, why this post has the title that it does. Actually, I'm going to share a part of her initial email too so that everything is in its proper context:

First email:

I read your blog about 'God revealing our future spouse'. I'm a believer,a worship leader with a burning passion to do something for God and I have dated a few men in the past but God clearly spoke to me that It wasn't his will so I chose to obey and walk out of every relationship. There's this guy called [I pulled his name out] who is a man of God whose family is serving God. He was my bestie's schoolmate and She had always told me "[I pulled her name out], you would get married to [him] someday. You guys would be a perfect couple serving God", but I never even bothered to know who [he] was until recently; my bestie mentioned the same again. 

So when she mentioned it this time, I had a different kind of feeling and when I checked out his videos (he is a musician who serves God), I had a strong feeling that he was the 'one' but I thought it was my flesh until God spoke to me the following: "He is the one from whose ribs I made you. I will use you both in future to carry my Word to nations. But as of now, I just want you to pray for him and his spiritual growth. I don't want you to approach him. I'm talking to Him as well. In this waiting phase, I want you to prepare yourself and I'm preparing him as well. At the right time, I will give him to you as your husband and your generations will be blessed. Until then, I just want you to pray and prepare."

I was so shocked! I just couldn't believe! I was thinking about my shortcomings and insecurities, but I get peace whenever I pray. I have already started praying for him and his family. My heart is filled with so much love for his family. And, after this revelation, I feel like a different person. Everyday I'm just getting closer to God and becoming a better person.

Now, this is the email I received this morning:

I know I'm bothering you so much but I have no body else to help me out in this. I'm going through this phase where I have started doubting if I really heard it from God or was it just my flesh speaking. I'm wondering if I am even in the right track because if it ain't from God then I would end up grieving God. Wouldn't I ? 

God revealed so many things about him, his character and about our future, but I wanna know if it's really God speaking or just my flesh. I keep hearing this voice saying "I am no man to lie". When I pray, I feel so much at peace. But when I don't ,all these worldly thoughts come creeping in and I start thinking about all the impossibilities, my insecurities, the possibilities of getting my heart broken and I feel so disturbed that I wouldn't even pray. But the truth is I feel at peace only when I pray and God keeps reassuring only when I pray. Now I have even stopped praying for him. Please pray and confirm if it is from God because if it is then I'll continue praying for Him else I'll just stop praying for him, forget him and move on.

Layers. Here.

Let's start with this point. This woman is *extremely responsible* to want to make sure she's not being caught up in her flesh. So many of us are "quick, fast and in a hurry" to say "God said he'd give me the desires of my heart, this is what I want and so I know I'm going to have it" without taking this Scripture into serious and sober-minded account: "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death." (James 1:14-15--NKJV) Your desires---and your heart (Jeremiah 17:9, Mark 7:20-22)---can get you caught up in a sorts of foolishness if/when they are not FULLY SURRENDERED (Matthew 16:24) to the Lord. And, since Galatians 5:16-17 tells us that the flesh and the Spirit tend to be at odds with one another, praying "not my will but thine will be done" (Matthew 26:39) is a very Christ-like thing to do. Literally. So yeah, big ups to her on that.

Here's where my concern comes in...

If you read this, there seem to be three things that have popped up between the first and second email:

1) Impatience
2) Worry/anxiety
3) Self-torment

God is working on your prayers :) I slip mine into a box and it's like sending mail and waiting for it to be processed and answered :):

IMPATIENCE 

So, just a few weeks ago, your BFF and the Lord (in that order?) told you someone was going to be your husband. A few weeks later, you're freaking out? Usually, that's not really about wondering if something is from the Lord or not. It's about us wanting to see EVIDENCE that it is. 2 Corinthians 5:7 reminds us that might not always be what happens because we are called, as children of the Most High (Psalm 82:6), to "walk by faith and not by sight". I'm a huge believer that marriage is indeed a "faith-based union" and I've also seen a pattern of women who knew who their husband was *before* their husband actually knew who their wife was. However, since it is THE WIFE who is called to be the HELPER (Genesis 2:18), it's important, even as single women, to become "faith masters". And, the Word doesn't tell us to put faith in people; Christ himself said "Have faith in God." (Mark 11:22--NKJV) God cannot lie (Titus 1:2); it's not his nature because lying is of the devil (John 8:44) and God has no darkness in him---at all (I John 1:5). Putting faith in him, in spite of what you see *and* don't see, is essential to any believer's walk (Hebrews 11).

I will say this: It's interesting that it wasn't until *after* her BFF planted the seed that she started to hear all of these things. So, my first piece of advice would be for her to say to her friend/friends what the Shulamite woman in the Song of Solomon once did: "Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires." (Song of Solomon 8:4--NIV) I know what it's like to hear something from God and all of the friends chime in with excitement and "prophecies". It can cause voices to become confusing, for sure---God is not the author of confusion (I Corinthians 14:33). If your friends have told you something they heard from the Lord about you, ask them to pray about it more than talk to you about it. If you've heard something from the Lord about one of your friends, seek him (Matthew 7:7-8) about whether it's your job to be "the deliverer" or simply "the intercessor". Timing is essential when it comes to sharing divine messages (Acts 1:7---Message)

Back to what she believes she heard from the Lord. I discern that one of the main reasons why God doesn't tell us as much as we'd like him to is because, just as the Bible tells us, his understanding is infinite (Psalm 147:5). He knows that if a lot of us hear what's going to happen in the future, we'll take it upon ourselves of when that should be. And if it's longer than what *we* expected, we'll start trippin'. Let's not forget that the foundation of Christianity took THOUSANDS of years to transpire: the coming of Christ. We hear first mention of it after the fall in Genesis 3. A LOT OF STUFF HAPPENED between then and when Mary was told she would have a son and that she should call him "Yehoshua" (Luke 1). When God speaks something into your life, it's important to remember ALL of what Ecclesiastes 3:11(NKJV) says; not just the first part: "He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end." When he tells us what will transpire, it's usually to keep us on course. However, it's up to him how short, or long, something should take.

For the impatience that she seems to be expressing, there's this:

"All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.
 

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
 

God knew what he was doing from the very beginning."---Romans 8:22-29(Message)

Remember, love IS patient (I Corinthians 13:4--NCV) and patience is not just about waiting. *So much more* is involved than that! Patience is "the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like". A whole lot of people got married, ignoring the importance and relevance of patience. Use your season of singleness (Ecclesiastes 3) to teach you how to love God, yourself and others...better. And more.

Aren’t we all waiting for something? A job. A college acceptance. The perfect boyfriend. A proposal. A wedding date. A baby. And so the list goes on. So often, we live one step ahead waiting on God...:

WORRY/ANXIETY

Matthew 6: 25-34 is crystal clear on its command. In it, Christ told us not to worry. Why? Because it adds *absolutely nothing* to our lives! Christ told us instead to seek FIRST the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness and everything else will be added. What I LOVE about the kingdom of God is that it has these things in it: "...righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." (Romans 14:17) Whenever I sense that one or all these three things are lacking, that's my sign that I'm spiritually out of balance.

Something that I found interesting about her email is that she said when she was praying, she was peaceful. That's pretty biblical: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7-NKJV) My discernment says, however, that God is using this time to grow her prayer life (I Thessalonians 5:17) and to mature her spiritually (Hebrews 5:12-14)---that it's not just about a guy. There's A LOT MORE for her to be focusing on than that!

Did you peep how one of the things she mentioned was ministering to the nations? That's speaking to discipleship (John 8:31-32 & 17:6-19). That's not going to start the moment she gets married. She needs to learn be (more of) a disciple NOW (there's a great article on what discipleship requires here). See, a lot of times we are guilty of being *far too one-dimensional* about what God tells us. Whether she marries this guy or not (because the guy has a "vote" in this too), based on what she believes that she heard, there was A LOT MORE that was said than she would be marrying him someday. If she's to "'Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.' Amen" (Matthew 28:19-20--NKJV), she needs to be taking that *very seriously*; she needs to seek God (Matthew 7:7-8) on what that should look like when it comes to her lifestyle even now.

See, something a lot of us miss is when we do hear a word from the Lord concerning our future spouse, we'll start to make it a god; sometimes without even noticing. Our thoughts become so consumed with "him" that we forget about who made HIM (Genesis 14:19). God cares about what we care about---down to the last detail (I Peter 5:6-7); however, there is so much more to your life than who your husband is going to be and/or when he's going to show up.

Be honest. Are you praying *for* your future husband or *obsessing* over him? God doesn't give us gods to serve. That's breaking the First Commandment (Exodus 20:3). When something (OR ONE) becomes idolatrous for us (I Corinthians 10:14), what we're actually told to do is flee!

When you find yourself worrying or getting anxious over something (including some guy), one or all three of the following things need to happen:

1) You need to pray WITH THANKSGIVING for what God has already done
2) You need to confess (James 5:16) what you are truly worried about (usually it has more to do with your relationship with God and where your faith/trust needs to grow than anything else)
3) You need to repent (I John 1:9-10) for being disobedient. Worrying is an act of disobedient and it's a waste of very precious energy and time.

It reminds me of a cool article I read earlier this week entitled "Singleness Is God’s Best for Me Today". When you get a chance, check it out. If God wanted you to be married today, you'd be married today. Don't underestimate the time of preparation, though. Even when it looks like *nothing* is going on, something is. Do you think that when Rebekah went to offer Abraham's servant and camels some water that she knew she was days away from meeting her husband, Isaac? Her heart for others prepared her for that faithful---and fate-filled---day (Genesis 24).

Stop worrying. Pray and prepare instead.

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TORMENT

The lead Scripture tells us that love DOES NOT involve torment. Yet a TON of women do just that: torment themselves over a guy! Torment is about mental affliction; it also consists of EXCESSIVE worry and stirring things up---basically creating drama where there is none. Satan likes to torment us through his accusations (Revelation 12:10). However, a lot of times he doesn't have to do a thing! We will straight-up torment ourselves!

Did you notice how it doesn't appear that anything has happened---or not happened---between email #1 and email #2 as it relates to the guy himself? But still, she is putting herself through all sorts of emotional roller coaster rides? Did you also peep how she said in the second email that if he's not the one, she'll stop praying for him and his family?

Two points, there...

One, Acts 20:35 tells us that it's more blessed to give than to receive. The Message Version of Proverbs 21:2&8 speaks of God checking our motives and how twisted ones will jack us up. She doesn't need to pray because she believes he's her husband. She needs to pray because he's a man of God and those kinds of men need prayer. If there's anything "good" that's come out of the self-tormenting, it's that she can get honest with God *and* herself about why she's spiritually-serving in this way to begin with.

Two, a practice that I recommend is when you find yourself in a similar predicament, ask yourself "What would God get out of this? What would Satan get out of this?" Satan would lust---because he loves nothing (I John 2:16)---nothing more than for a woman of God to stop praying for a man of God. Not just because of the power of prayer but because prayer is an act of submission. A wife-in-training (Colossians 3:18, Ephesians 5:22) needs to learn how to submit to the Lord (James 4:7) before her husband. Satan knows how prayer softens a person (I Peter 3:1-6). It would thrill him for her to be like "If 'he's' not my husband, what's the point?" The *point* is that he's God's children, regardless, praying---as the Holy Spirit leads you to pray (Luke 12:12)---*always* has a point. And purpose.

Another thing to remember about torment is that if you really and truly believe that God is the beginning and the end (Revelation 1:8), there should be nothing to worry about. This includes worrying about whether a guy will choose you---or not. This includes conjuring up all of these tragic tales in your head of heartbreak. This includes wondering if you'll be put to shame if things don't turn out the way you thought that they would.

If you're being obedient to God, if you're not "going off script" in your service to him, if you're honoring his boundaries in relationships (which includes NO SEX---I Corinthians 6:16-20--Message), NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS, you are a woman of honor and dignity. And if it's not "this guy", the RIGHT GUY will be blessed to have you. Keeping that in mind alone is a way to deaden any self-torment, right? I certainly hope so.

The picture quote up top is so on-point. It took me years to become a believer of it...

Just like Romans 14:17 is a "gut check Scripture", so is I John 4:18.
THERE IS NO FEAR OR TORMENT IN LOVE.

Whether it's love or you're "in love"...

If you're feeling that, go to the Source of Love (I John 4:8&16)...
About the root of those feelings.

Again, usually it has very little to do with a man or a relationship...
It's usually a self-worth or spiritual brokenness issue.

The sooner you work with God to heal from that (Psalm 147:3)...
The more stable and secure you'll be as a single woman...
And the better help you'll be to your future husband.


His Purpose, His Presence, His Peace...

SRW


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