Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Finding Answers in the Wilderness

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; 
to search out a matter is the glory of kings. 
- Proverbs 25:2

"Did you find everything alright?" That's usually the question asked when you're checking out at a store and the associate is politely trying to make sure you have gotten everything you've come for. Usually, a person's answer is "yes," right? We go into a store with a list or a particular item in mind; and we don't leave until we have gotten what we've come for. Most of the time, we know where something is. We seek and find it right away. Other times, we're looking for something special that we wouldn't typically search for. It may take us longer to find it, but we're on a mission! Even if we don't find it at one store, we keep looking until we finally complete our quest. A seeker's mentality gets a finder's reward.

What about the non-material things? What about the treasure of wisdom that is worth far more than rubies (Job 18:18, Proverbs 8:11)? What about the things that aren't tangible; things you cannot buy, earn, or find in stores? How often do we go on an intentional and purposeful quest for that? How often do we find it when we look for it? 

I have been thinking about this concept because I "found" something that I was looking for. Over the years, I've learned to have that seekers mentality. I know that if I seek the Lord, I will find Him. If I desperately need answers, He will give them to me. That's what His Word says (Deuteronomy 4:29, Jeremiah 29:13, Proverbs 8:17, Matthew 7:7-8, Luke 11:9-10). The "catch" is being "all in". Being wholehearted and intentional. Just like shopping, you're on a mission; purposefully and intentionally looking for something (and not giving up until you've found it). It's also like when we were recently car shopping for my son. Of all the makes, models, mileages, prices, etc. you don't give up until you find the right one. There were moments where we almost settled for less, but a true seeker's heart will be paired with wisdom and discernment. Those are the things Holy Spirit uses to confirm to you that you've found what you're looking for. 

I've "found" a lot of treasure to start off the week! It began Monday morning as I was driving to work. I was feeling extra tired and weary; definitely not ready for a new week. I was praying and lamenting about how I was feeling; asking God, as always, for his provision, healing, and refreshment. I also wanted to know that I was seen and that things were going to be ok regarding Chris securing a new job this week. This is a whole separate story, but basically, I've been feeling that this week was going to be the end of our 40 days in the wilderness (July 8th was when he was let go, so that makes today, August 16th, the last day). I had recently read in Luke 4:1-15 about the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness and was struck by how it started and ended - FULL! Jesus was FULL of the Holy Spirit, and was LED by the Spirit into the wilderness. He was fasting; He ate nothing. HOW did he withstand 40 days of temptation? It was that FULLNESS of the Spirit that sustained Him. He had 40 days worth of attacks from Satan, but He overcame it! After those 40 days were over, He returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit; teaching and healing people. 

I haven't been able to stop thinking about this. You'd think I'd already be content and super excited for the upcoming breakthrough/shift that is on the horizon after everything I've been reading, praying, and fasting through. However, I wanted and needed more confirmation and revelation. Jeremy Avila actually kicked that off a few days ago at Friday Worship Night with "You gotta getta word!" Watch this one! It also includes an amazing word from Roxy where she mentioned Abraham's "yes" to God. If you need a word from the Lord, GET ONE! He'll give it to you if you seek and ask for it! Seriously, go watch that; it'll help you get started (check this out too for more ideas; this series is also great about explaining how to see and experience God more). I didn't even know at the time how much it would factor in with what God would show me!

Over this past weekend, God was busy bringing the pieces together before I even fully asked for it (it's so cool how He does that; He really does know what we need before we even ask...which was something I read in my Bible plan today too!). Saturday night, he even woke me up from a nap with Hebrews 11:1 in my head. 

Naturally, awakening to a verse echoing in my mind prompted me to read Hebrews 11 in its entirety. It's a faith builder full of testimonies of so many in the Bible who walked by faith. Some didn't even see the full promise in their lifetime, but "welcomed it from a distance." The last verses say that together with US, they would be made perfect. 

The full impact of Hebrews 11 didn't come until I listened to Dutch Sheets' "Give Him 15" post. I thought I was listening to Monday's post, but I was actually listening to Friday's post that I had missed but intended to listen to later. In it, he was talking about God's timing and about....Abraham. I was awestruck and blessed, and then I heard "see you on Monday" and realized that I had listened to Friday's (and like I mentioned earlier, Abraham was mentioned at our Friday Worship Night). I couldn't wait to listen to Monday's post, but it would have to wait for my drive home.

In the meantime, I was also exploring two numbers that had popped up on Sunday. One was a total of $15.15 and the other $80 even. Neither one seemed like coincidences. When searching the Bible app, I found the treasure I was looking for in Proverbs 15:15 and Luke 1:80 : 

All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.

And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.

Once again, MORE treasure! Bible Hub has some insightful commentary notes on Proverbs 15:15. It explained how the oppressed/afflicted is a mental state. A cheerful heart and good attitude fuels a person and they can draw upon it and feast upon it. Likewise, someone that lives off of a bad mindset will feast off it and wallow in self-pity. It paired nicely with what I was seeking about the wilderness. Like Jesus, John the Baptist experienced growth, transformation, and power in the wilderness. When they both appeared and started their public ministries, they were FULL of the power of the Spirit. They had been feasting on and drawing their sustenance from the Spirit throughout their time in the wilderness. By contrast, the Israelites did the opposite when they were in the wilderness for 40 years. They had an oppressed and anxious mentality. Their mentality left them powerless instead of powerful. They feasted on negativity and scarcity; hoarding manna and quail to feed their flesh instead of feasting on the Spirit of God. I don't know about you, but I want my time in the wilderness to look less like theirs and more like Jesus and John's. I want to emerge victorious, transformed, refined, and empowered! 

To put the icing on the cake, Dutch's Monday post was about.....Hebrews 11. You can't make this stuff up lol! In it, he talked about agreeing with our brethren in prayer and the synergy of the ages (not just present prayers, but the prayers prayed by those that proceeded us). He describes those last two verses about being made perfect together like this:

The last two verses of Hebrews 11 give us the amazing answer; they did not receive the fulfillment of their promises because God wouldn’t allow them to be “complete” without us. That is incredible! We, today, are a continuation of these individuals’ callings and assignments. The Greek word translated “complete” also means “to finish; to mature; to reach the intended goal.” Think about the ramifications of this: without us, God can’t finish what He began through those saints; what He started through them cannot mature or reach its intended goal until we grab the baton and run our leg of the race. That is mind-blowing!

God gave these individuals promises, but He often didn’t give them timelines. He did not tell them He would bring the fulfillment into their lifetimes, although I’m sure most of them expected Him to do so. The eternal God, who transcends time, speaks promises that are sometimes more reflective of His nature and relationship with time than ours. At times, He makes promises to people, knowing full well He will deliver on those promises through their children, grandchildren, or spiritual descendants. I wonder what I may be finishing for some pastor or teacher from a few decades ago? Or perhaps for even some flag-waving patriot warrior?

I went to Monday night prayer room feeling very "full". I wanted to "getta word" and He more than gave it to me! I entered the wilderness full, led by the Spirit for my/our own good, and I/we are going to leave it FULL; better than when we went in! I definitely feel like I/we will be leaving the wilderness this week and entering into a new season (or ministry?!) FULL of POWER! 

I couldn't help but share Hebrews 11 at prayer room through grateful tears. I also shared about how much the prayers of my grandmothers meant to me. I was told that my Great-Grandma Zerkel would often fall asleep praying for her family members. She would try to get through everyone's names, but sometimes didn't make it. I think about what she might have prayed for all of us and that she would go to sleep with our names and prayers on her lips. Maybe it was something as simple as blessing and keeping us. She always used to write that in birthday cards: "May the Lord bless you and keep you." Keep me? Am I going somewhere? What does that even mean? I never understood it. I didn't appreciate it until recent years when I thought about what that meant as she stuck that birthday wish and a crisp $1 bill in the card. She was a widow for most of her life. She didn't have much, but she loved and thought of us. That dollar bill, and those nighttime prayers, were priceless widow's mites. If a dollar was all she had, she'd at least make sure it was brand new. And those prayers? Still being answered today. He has blessed and "kept" me. I cannot be snatched from His hand (John 10:27-30, Romans 8:38-39).
Faith. Transformation. Prayers. POWER! The fullness and sustaining power of Holy Spirit is what gets us through our wilderness seasons. He leads us there to refine and prepare us for what comes after it. I'm ready to "getta word" for what's next as I leave the wilderness in the rear-view mirror!

Grace and peace to you, my friends! If you need need answers in your life, SEEK THE LORD....with ALL your heart! Go on that mission and don't stop until you've completed it and gotten what you came for! Don't waste time grumbling in the wilderness. Draw off the fullness of the Spirit and let it fuel and sustain you! Fast. Pray. Seek. You'll be transformed, renewed, and prepared for the purposes for which He's working all of this out for good (Romans 8:28). You'll emerge powerful and victorious; ready to advance His Kingdom in new ways! The faith and prayers prayed throughout the ages will continue on as we pass the torch to the next generation. May He "bless and keep" us all as we give what we have of ourselves to Him! We're creating a continued legacy; or choosing a new one if it wasn't passed down to us (just look at Rahab who was mentioned in that hall of faith!). God bless and keep you all!

No comments: