The Lord’s Training Ground
From the mountain top to the valley, that’s what I experienced this past weekend. I liken it to when I spent most of my time speaking at chapel service. The Lord would give me a great message that spoke to those in attendance. Then on Monday I would sink into a deep valley wondering if I had any impact at all.
I experienced that this past weekend. In my humble opinion, we hit it out of the park at Rockingham. The new equipment worked great, our remote interviews were off the hook and we added 2 new team members to the crew with both doing a great job. Then the rains came and washed away all of our success, at least that’s how I felt yesterday. Nothing more miserable than sitting at a race track in the rain, having the race canceled and then having to put all of the the gear up wet. Just not a lot of fun.
Rain can really put a damper on you. However, if you build a fire and start to fellowship with those around you, then all of a sudden your perspective turns from one of sorrow to joy. Build a fire, seriously? Yes, I learned that during my survival training in the military. It was our first day in the field and it rained. The entire team wanted to quit. The instructors came in, we built a fire and started working on our tasks. Next thing we knew the rain had stopped, our gear was dry and our perspective was changed.
How did I build a fire yesterday? Through fellowship with the Lord and my wife. I walked around the campground I’m currently parked at and communed with the Lord. By the time I had walked a few thousand feet, I had given all of my burdens back to Him. I spent a few hours on the phone with my wife after not getting to talk to her the last few days (which is not unusual during an event). Those two things changed my entire mindset.
The enemy will steal your joy if you allow him to, he will always hit you when you are most vulnerable. When the attacks come, it’s time to build a fire with the Lord and rest in His loving arms.
Today, all three devotionals speak about adversity and how it shapes us to fulfill the Lord’s plan for our lives. Take the time to read through them, there is wisdom in these words.
The Gift in Adversity
TGIF Today God Is First NextGen by Charis Hillman Brown
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James 1:2&3
I often reminisce on my family history. So much of what we encounter in our daily lives roots back to our childhood experiences. (See Paul Hegstrom’s book Broken Children, Grown-Up Pain.) But when I think of what happened then, I no longer see it as something to avoid and diminish as awful. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t fun, and I still deal with the consequences of some of what happened then. But instead of feeling full of dread I am filled with gratitude that God allowed me to be in such a place so that I would need to depend on Him more, and that I would know Him as my Heavenly Father. In place of the pain and hurt, He has placed irrevocable joy.
I doubt many of us that are in or have been in difficult circumstances could call them a blessing. It has taken a lot of time, a lot of healing, and a lot of restoration, but it was so worth the cost. The joy of knowing Christ and experiencing His peace, love and joy in spite of circumstances is better than any diamond, ruby or emerald on this earth, or any comfort we might enjoy. If you’ve never been through adversity, you’ll never know how valuable it is to be without it. And, you’ll never know the blessing of the depth of God experiences we need in order to get us through those tough times.
Someone once told my dad, “God must love you a lot. He does not allow such difficult experiences into a life that He does not plan to use greatly.”
Have you discovered the gift in adversity?
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 2 by Os Hillman
“The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position” (James 1:9).
Whenever God takes a saint to a very lowly state it is designed to accomplish something only that process can do. Job learned that “He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings deep shadows into the light” (Job 12:22). Job’s trials allowed him to learn things about God, himself and his friends that we all needed to know as well. He assumed things about God that he had to recant: “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know” (Job 42:3).
God reveals things in the dark places of circumstances that will be used to reveal something He wants you and others to know. He has sent you ahead to learn these things so that you and others will benefit from your unique experience. God views this place where you receive these truths as a high position. The world views it as a place to be despised.
“He called down a famine on the land and destroyed all their supplies of food; and he sent a man before them – Joseph, sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons, till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the Lord proved him true” (Psalms 105:16-19). Joseph was also led to this high position. It was here he was prepared to be the most powerful man in the world as a thirty-year old. He learned many things about God during his captivity that was used later as a ruler over a nation.
So, if you find yourself in a lowly state, realize your lowly state is considered a high position by God that is preparation soil for revealing deep things from the dark places that God desires you to learn.
The Way of God
by Os Hillman
“If My people would but listen to Me…. Psalm 81:13
God has a specific training ground for leaders. There are three patterns of preparation that have been common among most of God’s leaders. First, there is a time when the leader is separated from his old life. Consider Moses, Joseph, Abraham, and Paul. In order for God to mold and shape them into His nature, it appears that He had to remove them from the life of comfort. A teacher once said, “You cannot go with God and remain where you are.”
Next, there is usually a time of solitude. God often brings leaders into a time of solitude in order to speak to them without other distractions. Hosea 2:14b says, “I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.” Paul was sent to Arabia for two years for a time of solitude. Joseph spent years in the solitude of prison. Moses spent 40 years in the desert herding sheep.
The third characteristic of God’s preparation for leaders is discomfort. The setting in which the preparation takes place usually is not a place of comfort. Abraham traveled through the difficult deserts. David lived in caves fleeing Saul. Paul was frequently persecuted.
Are you ready for the classroom of leadership preparation? If God chooses to bring you into this class, you may have one of three reactions to the events. First, you may say, “I don’t need it.” Perhaps you know intellectually that you do need this, but God wants you to know it in your heart. Pride prevents us from entering this classroom. The second reaction may be, “I’m tired of it.” You decide you’ve had enough. If so, this will disqualify you from leadership. Finally, God’s desired response from us in this preparation is, “I accept it.” To accept it with joy is the place of maturity in Christ. God often keeps us in these places until we come to accept and agree that Jesus is enough. Is He all you need?
Like the people of Israel, I think we have something to do with the timetable of our education. “If My people would but listen to Me, if Israel would follow My ways, how quickly would I subdue their enemies and turn My hand against their foes!” (Ps. 81:13-14)
Are you ready for the process required for being a godly leader? Ask for His grace to willingly embrace these times of preparation.