"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18 )
While I was in Israel I came across the song "Water and Dust" by Cory Asbury and it really resonated with me.
Watch my music video filmed at the ancient ruins of Sataf in the Land of Israel here:
This song is about going through the tough seasons of life and finding hope in difficult situations.
When life throw hard things at us, it seems to chip away at our exterior image. From an outside perspective, when everything falls apart, it may seem like we are simply "wasting away."
One of the definitions of "wasting" is to: "fail or neglect to use to its' fullest capacity."
Usually this is a gradual process of wearing down and weakening the strength present within the person. We are told that the strategy of the enemy of our souls is to 'wear down God's people.' (Daniel 7:25) He doesn't have to directly destroy us; he just keeps chipping away until we are too worn down to continue.
According to a national survey, one of the biggest fears of people today is that of 'not fulfilling their purpose'. - not living up to their potential. We live in a world full of opportunity where we are being told that we can be whoever we want to be, do everything we want to do and have everything we want to have. That's amazing! But it can also place tremendous pressure on us to live up to an impossibly high standard we create for ourselves (that may not even be God's will for our lives). We may inadvertently be striving to build an empire; but end up with only a 'Tower of Babel' that God has to eventually tear down, brick by brick.
Life can be messy.
It doesn't always follow our schedule or 5 year life plan.
We can find ourselves in seasons of life where we feel stuck - like our potential isn't being maximized - it's being terribly and tragically 'wasted'.
Everyone has a God-given purpose for their lives; and as believers we can wrestle with discontentment in seasons where we are not yet doing all we can do and being all we can be. The reality of our situation may be so far removed from the vision God has placed within our heart that we wonder if we will ever get there. Unbelief, insecurity and doubt can hinder us from fully following our calling and pursuing our destiny.
God spoke to me recently through the chapter in the bible from where my name (Liat) comes.
He pointed me to this passage of Scripture that says "...you are precious and honored in My sight, and because I love you,..." (Isaiah 43:4)
"Precious" to me had been a casual nickname and term of endearment in the past but I felt like God wanted to reveal something new about the phrase and He told me to look up the definition.
I discovered that "precious" truly meant: "Something/someone of great value; not to be wasted or treated carelessly."
That was such a comfort an encouragement to me. We hear so often "Jesus loves you! God loves you!" that we become immune to it. When we ask God to reveal His love he will hit us specifically with exactly what we need to hear because he knows each one of us personally.
Part of God's love for us means he will not allow us to waste what He's placed within us.
If we break this down even further "careless" means "not giving sufficient attention or thought to avoiding harm or errors."
God loves us and while he promises us that our giftings, our potential and our passions will not be wasted, he also protects us from what we want that isn't in line with his will for our lives.
We can be chasing something that we desire so much but only God can see the danger lying on the other side.
"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." (Jeremiah 29:11)
God has made PLANS for us. God does not haphazardly throw our life together. God has a blue-print laid out for our future. We all know that laying down the foundation of the house is the longest process of the entire construction. God wants to lay down a solid foundation of character, faith and perseverance in us before we can enjoy the final product.
I heard it put this way, "A Ferrari in the hands of a five year old will cause mass destruction and is extremely dangerous to him and everyone around him. It would be costly and careless to entrust such a valuable gift into the hands of a child unequipped to handle the responsibility."
That same Ferrari in the hands of an adult however is no problem! (hopefully lol)
God wants to give us the gift waiting for us but he's waiting on US to become mature enough to handle his promises. To give us something out of his timing is to be careless which wouldn't be true to his character.
Because we are precious to him he wants to keep us from harm. Sometimes that means delaying our plans or even cancelling them. It takes a heart of surrender from us to lay down what we want and put our future in the hands of God.
It takes trusting God and saying "I know you want what's best for me and you will not let what's in me go to waste, you are fulfilling your promises to me and keeping me from harm even if that means delaying the process of my timing and falling in alignment to your will."
There are seasons of delays and discomforts that can occur before the success we seek unfolds in our lives. There are also times when we go through difficult and painful challenges; but it is through these very trials that God prepares us for our position. It is when we prove ourselves faithful in the little that God knows He can entrust us with greater power.
It is during these 'wasted' seasons of our life that, despite all our efforts, we may not seem any closer to achieving our goals or stepping into the call of God that he's placed on our lives. But it's in these storms of life that God inwardly renews us. This does not happen overnight. It is a daily process of growing into all God's created us to be.
"be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)
God allows us to go through hardships because they shape us for our future.
God doesn't want us to lose sight of where we're going just because we aren't able to do everything that he's preparing us for right now. He wants us to fix our focus on what we cannot see yet.
It's so easy to look around at our current circumstance and just lose heart if it's not where we want to be. But God challenges us to go beyond that. He asks us to not dwell on what's in front of us - our problems, our seemingly insurmountable mountains; but instead to dig deep into the dreams he's placed inside of us. To "fix our eyes on what is not seen." Sounds like an oxymoron huh? How can we see the unseen - see what we cannot see?
I think that this is a call from God to dream. To imagine what we know God wants for our life and to remember what we're passionate about. What stirs us up and keeps us awake at night.
Even if we're not where we want to be, God asks us to fix our focus on what we are called to become in Him. Anything motivated by fear is destined for disaster; but by hearing the Word we can be fueled by faith and allow ourselves to dream in the dark season of our lives.
This means spending DAILY quality time with God and allowing our personal lives to reflect our prioritizes. -receiving a personal touch from God before we receive public power.
Even when we don't see a way ahead and the road in front of us looks rough we can hold fast to the promise of God that he will never leave us or forsake us and that he has a hope and future for us.
Maybe outwardly our life doesn't seem exactly how we want it. Maybe it even looks like it's "wasting away" - like all our giftings and abilities are hidden, neglected, and sitting dormant. It's exactly in that place God tests us to see if we really want HIM or if we want what he can do FOR us.
We see examples of this disconnect between destiny and reality in the bible:
David had to endure a difficult season of constantly being on the run - instability, never knowing where he was going to sleep that night. It was certainly not the exalted place of royalty that he was promised. He had to hide out in caves and was treated with disrespect and contempt by people far beneath him (see the story of Naval and Avigail in 1 Samuel 25). David's reality was surely a far cry from a luxurious palace with servants waiting on him hand and foot.
During Israel's worst defeats (at Ziklag), the people who once praised him with songs were ready to stone him in their grief and disappointment. But that was only a temporary season of life for David. God had so much more in store for him. He first had to overcome the challenges he faced before receiving the position that was his destiny. Before he could be recognized for who he was anointed to be he had to endure many trials that humbled him and earned him the title of "a man after God's own heart."
God values our genuine love for him more than the work and accomplishments we can do for him. He wants our hearts, our worship, an authentic relationship with him before he grants us the ability to lead others. He wants to provide substance to uphold the position of authority so that we can impact other people's lives instead of harming them.
It's not about perfection; it's all about progress.
Joseph also had to go through a long season of betrayal. He was taken away from his family where he was the favored (and perhaps pampered?) son; and thrown by his brothers into a pit.
Do you perhaps find yourself in a deep, dark pit? Did someone you loved and trusted push you in? Or did you maybe just fall into that pit all by yourself when you just weren't paying attention?
Take heart - here is what the pit can stand for: P.I.T. - Prophet. In. Training.
Jospeh endured years of extremely grueling physical labor as a slave and just when things were starting to look up he was thrown into prison for a crime he didn't commit. He could've gotten bitter and thought "why do bad things always happen to me? Why does everyone betray me?"
He went through years of loneliness, if anyone knew what it felt like to be "wasting away" it must have been Joseph sitting in that dark, cold, prison cell. But God cultivated his ability to interpret dreams and kept his promise to make him a great leader. He used his pain to save entire nation. The most inspiring part of the whole story was Joseph's attitude of forgiveness and his soft heart towards those very people who wronged him.
Would we have the same humility and maturity in the same situation?
Maybe some of us are going through a rough time so God can develop some empathy and soften our hearts towards those who have betrayed us. So we can extend the same grace that he offers us freely.
What does your season of "preparation before the position" look like?
Is it hard work? loneliness? Instability? Dealing with difficult people? Betrayal? Disrespect? Poverty? sickness? An unfair boss? Dysfunctional friends?
None of those things are meant to become our permanent reality. But by overcoming those challenges in our lives we allow our inner selves to become renewed. It may feel like those trials are keeping us from fulfilling our purpose and living up to our potential but God can use them to lead us straight into what we were anointed for.
Sometimes we start out with good intentions but as the difficulties drag on and on, breaking down the ideal of our "outer selves." (our goals, dreams, desires) we can get weary.
That's why God encourages us "Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary." (Galatians 6:9, NASB )
Life is not a sprint. It's a marathon. Both Joseph and David spent YEARS before they stepped into what they were born to do. Not days, or even months but years. Which is why it takes spiritual stamina to continue to believe that as we seek God he WILL make a way for us to step into our calling; and that even in our most devastating losses ,he has already overcome them.
I hear the internal struggle of people around me with their whole futures ahead of them, and like me, they become impatient and frustrated with where God has placed them right now.
I was watching a video with my family today and around the 3 minute mark I shut it off. "I have a millennial attention span, that's my limit." I said , exasperated with the ten minute length of the film.
I felt a little like a goldfish, unable to hold my focus for an extended duration of time.
Isn't that the same thing we do with our lives though?
We start off revved up for what God's going to do through us and then near the 3 minute mark we shut down. We lose patience and never get to see the end that was already written for us.
Which is why it states "it was through patience that Abraham inherited the promises of God."
When Abraham and Sarah did try to replicate God's promise on their own terms, in their own way, and in their own timing, they ended up creating an Ishmael in the flesh - and we're still dealing with the repercussions of their impatience today in the strife-filled Middle East.
"We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised." (Hebrews 6:12)
We cannot rush what God wants to do in us the same way we can't force a flower to grow any faster. We can water it, give it sunshine, place it in the right environment the same way we can feed ourselves on God's word, keep our dreams alive and put ourselves into the right faith community but we have to be willing to submit to God's timetable for our lives.
God encourages us to have an eternal perspective and yet I completely understand the frustration that comes in seasons of life that feel as if our gifts are being wasted and our purpose being delayed. But remembering that it is only temporary and 'this too shall pass' helps to trust that God will use it to prepare us for the position we were born for . We may be 'wasting away outwardly'; but are being renewed inwardly and prepared for eternity.
What God is going to do will outweigh all the hardship and momentary troubles that plague us if we remember to fix our focus on where he's taking us and holding fast to our faith.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us. fixing our eyes on Yeshua (Jesus), the pioneer and perfecter of our faith." (Hebrews 12 1-2)
Life can get us down; but God calls us to look up to Him. When He promised Abraham descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky (even though at that time he was old and childless) , God called him to step out of his tent and look up - way up - at the entire twinkling galaxy of stars. We need to stop looking down at our circumstances, get out of our tents and look up - see the vision of the life God has for us - if we will only stay in faith and not lose heart.
Whatever you're going through or being challenged by - whatever season of life you're in right now - just remember that God wants you to become all you were created to be, He's on your side and wants you to keep your dreams alive. We have each been chosen by the Father to bear much good fruit for His glory.
In times of difficulty..... just remember ...."don't lose heart."