Last week I prompted you with questions reflecting on your growth over the course of 2018. They seemed like questions you would be eager to ask the Lord, right? Who wouldn’t want God to gas them and tell them how great they are? Tuh! Well, I don’t know how your week of reflection went, but I’m a few days behind on writing this post if that says anything about mine.
I love to journal; it’s literally a record of the most vulnerable, unfiltered parts of my brain. As I sat down in the comfort of my bedroom, I flipped through my journal and noticed that I grew a lot but I couldn’t boil it down to one lesson. I realized that I needed to look at “growth” through the Lord’s eyes. What does He care the most about? Why did He groom me in the way that He did this past year? What things did He allow that made it feel like I was being stretched beyond my limits?
I was then led to a passage in my journal that I wrote in October. It reads:
” Study Luke 4.
Chantel, the Spirit is about to lead you into the wilderness, where the enemy will tempt you with the world. Withstand him. Be still. Then, you will go into a new stage of your ministry. You need to be strengthened by the Holy Spirit first.”
It wasn’t until I realized that I’m literally embarking on a new part of my ministry at this very moment –Queens in Spring– that I understood why I went through the season that I went through. In Luke 4, Jesus is led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit before He officially began His journey of spreading the Gospel and heading to the cross.
In my wilderness season, I had to endure a lot of isolation. The Lord was simply weening me off of the dependence of people but not simply that, but expecting things from situations. Doing things with a level of expectancy for the Lord to reveal Himself is one thing, but expecting certain outcomes only for the sake of control demonstrates the absence of faith and the presence of fear.
I was forced to let go of a relationship that I cared deeply about but was constantly trying to be in control of. I feared that the Lord didn’t have good things in store for my future, so I clung to what I considered good. The only way that I realized the Lord’s desires for me vastly outweighed my own was by relinquishing my fear and crossing the fence separating fear and freedom.
Around the same time, I lead a small group bible study on campus for the first time, and my co-leader stepped down mid-semester, leaving me to lead by myself. As you can imagine I was in my feelings, but that’s irrelevant. Looking back, I realize that I had a very entitled, selfish attitude towards the situation. The Lord was truly answering one of my prayers about giving me the courage to lead and speak, and I was stuck in the fact that I felt abandoned. I really had to re-evaluate my perspective on things and think about why God allowed that situation and what He was trying to do at that moment. This is another instance of me feeling as if I was being stretched beyond capacity. But honestly sis, that just shows how little I thought of myself and God. God wasn’t letting up on me, because like a good coach, He saw an endless amount of potential in me and wasn’t about to let me give up when the going got tough.
I would also encourage you to pay attention to the signs God sends you, sis. Often times we are so busy being annoyed by the world and our circumstances that we don’t see God in them. I would often have dreams about birthing something and going through so much pain, but the Lord would always be there holding my hand. What I was birthing –my ministry– could only come through perseverance, humility, and obedience. Everything comes full circle. I was often the last one standing in a lot of the situations I was in this year, but in reality, it was the Lord showing me that His love is sufficient and that I am a lot more like Him than I could fathom.
This year I learned that the greater the pain, the closer the “baby” or breakthrough. So Queen, whatever you’re going through, remember to search for the lesson in your struggle by seeking the Lord. Some may say that “God will never give you more than you can bear,” but I want you to understand that we don’t even know what we can bear ourselves. God does. Trust Him. As my mentor and someone I consider to be a big brother would say, “lean into the pain” because a great stretch promises significant growth.