As I sat down tonight to write today's devotional, my thoughts were brought back to this time last year. I was writing devotionals just like I am right now but the truth is I was hurting and felt lost while writing these last year. Knowing God was still there, I didn't understand why I felt such despair. Beginning this month last year I began fasting for what was originally going to be one month but then turned into almost two months. I was desperate for answers, for prayers answered-- but often the way we think a prayer should be answered in our minds isn't the way God does it. We can't see what He sees and when He does things differently from the way we imagined it would go (which is pretty much every time) He is doing it with the knowledge of everything and therefore the knowledge of what is the absolute best for us. (You know the whole Jeremiah 29:11 verse? Yeah, what a game-changer it would be if we actually believed it in every situation and season of life).
So during that fast last year, I was certain God would answer my longings, my specific hopes and prayers for a certain relationship in my life at the time. But after weeks of fasting and continually increasing pain, I found that up until that point I had been fighting what God was doing. The fast didn't change God and His plans but it sure did change my heart and perspective, which is really what needed to change. "The peace of God is what helps us navigate the will of God", I read this in the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer. How often have I traded true peace for something that was not God's will, something that would tear me apart? So often we choose momentary, temporary comforts and satisfaction that will, in the long run, eat us alive over something which may be hard temporarily but ultimately will fulfill our hearts and lives for the good.
I don't want to only live for God, love God, worship Him, obey Him, trust Him when things go my way... how would that make my relationship with Him legitimate at all? It wouldn't.
This is such a common message we hear about trusting God and following His ways, and perhaps the reason we can't make it stick in our minds, perhaps the fact that we are so struggling to grasp it is because we have put too much trust in ourselves. Perhaps we have made gods, idols of ourselves. Believing that our tiny bit of knowledge and perspective is enough to come up with a master plan that could be above God's.
Let's live differently, friends. Where we don't trust and where we try to make our own plans come to be, let's admit that to God and ask Him to change our perspectives. I don't want to keep spinning my wheels in the faith. I want my faith to be actually that-- faith. Despite circumstances and pain, despite what has or has not happened in my life, despite how and when God answers prayers. When Jesus taught us how to pray in the Bible, notice how He began with praising God and asking that GOD'S will be done, not ours. Before any request is put out there... "Thy will be done".
It's easy to follow Jesus when life is good and faith feels like an accessory rather than our everything. It's a whole other story when life is hard, it doesn't go "as planned", and faith either has to be our foundation or death will be the victor. It's okay to pray for faith. God knew we wouldn't be strong enough on our own and thank Him that we don't have to be and were never made to be. As we start this new year, new day, new moment, let's erase our plans, open up our hands to our good Abba, and let our heart song be "not my will, Lord, but Yours be done".
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
"And he [Jesus] said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will." Mark 14:36
"But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’"