Have you been through a barren season? It’s those seasons where you have planted seeds and watered them, but nothing is growing or producing. It’s a little frustrating and a lot scary. To have followed God’s principles in the Bible and to not see Him move on your behalf can be worrisome. In those times, I’ve prayed, “God, where are you? Why haven’t you responded yet? I thought by now you would have shown up,” only to be answered by silence. Barren seasons show up out of no where and can last a while. They put your faith to the test, but what you can’t see, and what you have to remind yourself, is what God is doing with those planted seeds underground.
Habakkuk 3:17-18 gives us the prescription for these times. It says, “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” (NLT) We must continue to praise God anyway and choose to honor Him. Our hope is not in the fruits of our labor, but in the Lord. We cannot allow what we see in our circumstances to dictate our relationship with God. Circumstances are fickle, but God remains the same yesterday, today and forever.
In those barren seasons, I recount the character of God. I look back on who He has always been, not on how I perceive Him in my current situation. Relationships dictated by emotions fail because emotions can be manipulated. They must be built on something deeper. You must choose to love, to rejoice in the Lord and to be joyful even in the dry seasons. God has not changed who He is, nor has He stopped working on your behalf. Choose to rejoice no matter what the fields of your life look like right now. Trust in Him to be who He always has been. He is Jehovah Jireh, your provider and source even in the barren seasons. Your trust needs to be in Him rather than in the fruit of your labor.
Photo by Dikaseva on Unsplash
One of my father in law’s favorite activities is doing word search puzzles. They’re the ones where it’s a box of alphabet letters with words hidden in them. The word your looking for could be vertical, backwards, diagonal, or regular. It takes concentration, persistence, and determination at times to find these words. Sometimes, when he can’t find a word, he asks for help from someone else. An outside set of eyes often provides a fresh perspective in finding the words.
To me, finding God can be like one of those puzzles. He’s hidden in our daily lives among the things we’re used to seeing each and every day. It takes concentration, persistence, and determination to find Him in our daily lives. Often times, someone else comes along and points Him out to us while we are seeking Him. Sometimes we’re looking for Him to be hidden and He’s right there in plain sight.
One of the things we do at our nightly devotions with teams who go on a mission trip to Haiti is to ask them, “Where did you see Jesus today?” The first night is usually pretty quiet because so many of us live our lives knowing God is always with us, but we fail to look for Him. We trust He’s there, but we don’t take the time to search for Him daily and to seek Him. God’s desire is that we move past just an acknowledgment of His presence and that we would seek it daily.
Jeremiah 29:13 says, “When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed” (MSG). When is the last time you searched for God in your daily life? He wants us to seek His presence daily and to see a His hand at work in our lives and in the lives of others. If we’re not careful, we’ll miss it. He wants to be found by us, but are we seeking Him?
Transitions in life are hard. They mean that one part of your life’s story is over and a new one is about to begin. They are the space between where faith is tested and fear fights to creep in. They are a temporary no man’s land that we have to walk through in order to grow. As we walk through them, it’s hard to see what’s coming next. The territory is so unknown to is that we put our attention and focus on the transition rather than on where we’re being transitioned to. We question God’s providence in our situation during these times.
I remember one of the first lessons I learned working in a child care center was with transitions. Kids hated transitions as much as adults. I learned that if I told them we were going to be making a change in activities in a few minutes, it would give them time to finish what they were doing and to prepare mentally for what was coming next. Now, when I talk to sales reps, I talk to them about transitions in the sale. It’s important for the buyer to know where they are in the sale and what’s coming next. I even encourage them to share with the buyer the why behind the transition.
As I’ve thought about all of that, I started wishing God would give us the warnings about transitions approaching in our lives and the why’s behind them. As I prayed about it, God reminded me how many times Jesus told the disciples what was going to happen to Him in Jerusalem and why. They never heard a word of it and were shocked in the Garden of Gethsemane. They entered a time of transition between having Jesus walk with them daily and having the Holy Spirit coming as their guide. Like us, they were confused, frightened and wondered where God was in the transition.
God speaks to each of us daily. He says things we ignore or don’t want to hear so we block Him. We use our selective hearing when He speaks of things that scare us. The disciples heard Jesus tell them about the transition, but they weren’t listening. Even when we know a transition is coming, it’s still natural to be scared. We’re afraid of change. The last few years have taught me that change is necessary for growth. When we fight it, we fight growing, we fight the future God had for us and we fight God’s will. Our times of transition help prepare us for the change. They grow our faith and trust in God’s plan for our life. It’s something we can only see when we take the time to look back.
Imagine if Peter and the others had stayed locked up in their house and never went to the upper room. Out of 500 people whom Jesus told to go and wait, only 120 made it through the transition. They were tough enough to stick it out and trusted that God had something more on the other side of the transition. As He did for them, so He does for you. God has something greater for you on the other side of this time of transition. It may take longer than you expected, but hang on. The reward will be worth it. The growth you will experience will be like no other time in your life. Don’t give up in the time of transition. Hold strong to your faith and trust God to see you through.
I’m on a journey right now. I know my destination. I know what God has called me to do. I’ve known for a while now. After running from it for years, I decided to embrace it. I told God I was ready to step into my calling. All of a sudden things started happening quickly. Faster than I could keep up with. I began to make life changing plans to accommodate where I was going. Confirmations that I was on the right path were coming left and right. I knew I was on my way to my destiny. My calling was sure. My path was clear.
One night, my pastor pulled me aside to talk about it. He saw the changes happening and God spoke to him about it. Prophetically he told me, “Be patient on your journey.” Almost immediately the trail went cold. The path disappeared. The confirmations quit rolling in. I can still see where I’m going, but not the path. I still believe in what God has called me to do, but I can’t see how to get there from here. That was two years ago that he spoke those words to me. I’ve had two years of asking God, “Where did you go? Why did you quit leading me? Why is the path hidden? What’s my next step?”
I’ve traced the cold path back to that night. I’ve blamed the lack of progress on those words. I’ve looked for excuses and other paths that will lead me to where I’m going, but have had no luck. I’ve struggled with God as He’s had me at the point for a while. I’ve listened to His voice and waited for His direction, but I’m still sitting here. I’m still waiting. I’m still hoping. I’m still believing. Each day that I wait, the desire to do what He has called me to grows. Each day I become more restless and fed up with where I am. I’m a doer, not a sitter. I’m a go getter, not a watcher. That’s my personality. Sitting still is hard for me.
God used Mark Batterson’s words to help me in this limbo. One of the things he said is, “The longer you wait, the more you appreciate.” That hit my soul. He also said, “God wants you to get where you are going more than you want to get where you’re going.” Then He must really want it! Then he hit me between the eyes. He said, “God is more concerned with who you become in the journey than with getting you to the destination.” That changed my thoughts. If God is more concerned with who I become on this journey, so should I. This is the training ground before I step into my calling. He is molding me and shaping me into the person He needs me to be so I can completely fulfill His calling.
Then there were the words of reassurance to calm me down. He said, “God knows how to get you to become who He wants you to become in the process of the journey.” All of a sudden my pastor’s prophetic words made sense. Change takes time. It takes pressure. It takes faith to trust God and to keep going when you can’t see the path. It takes patience. I want things now. I want them to happen in my time. I want to be in control of how God moves my life. On the journey I’ve learned to trust His timing. I’ve learned that I shouldn’t take matters into my own hands and try to force the calling to come to a reality. I should be patient and be faithful in the process of becoming who He wants me to be on this journey.