Having a bigger vision for life is something God wants for His people. But when we’re walking through distressing, arid lands or chronic mental and emotional fatigue, that can seem inconceivable.
Something God tends to challenge His people on is doing the inconceivable with His help.
All through the bible we see God asking people to do the seemingly impossible. He always tells them, 'take courage', 'be bold'', don’t be silenced', 'you are a conqueror'.
Experiencing distressing, arid lands or chronic mental and emotional fatigue or loss is part of experiencing life. The important consideration is, have I sought God, been directed by Him and put my trust in Him? Have I committed my way to Him? Have I committed myself to not get in His way, no matter how long, or what it takes?
Walking that journey myself, some days I say to Him, 'I can’t do this anymore. Make it stop!' But when I read His word and spend time with Him again He reminds me of the bigger picture: who He’s trying to mould me to be; what He’s bringing into place through my obedience and dependency. The when and where is His concern and that’s a tough place to come to peace with, and remain in. That’s part of the journey. To surrender, and remain in a place of steady contentment and reliance on where God is leading; to surrender to what He’s wanting to teach me that will equip me to do what He has called.
Becoming small to ourselves helps God show us a bigger vision in order to increase and become prosperous in the land we find ourselves in.
Jeremiah 29 is a word from God to the exhiles of Jerusalem that have been led into captivity. He tells them to increase in number, not to decrease.
That’s an interesting challenge when you find yourself in a place you don’t want to be. You don’t want to consider being there long enough to increase.
God told His people to build houses, bring your children up in the land of exhile, arrange marriages there – live your life to the best of your ability. In other words, they were going to be there a long time. They had to get used to the idea of what had happened, and they were not going to experience a swift and miraculous rescue back into their homeland where they felt comfortable and safe. Increase and prosperity had to be viewed differently.
Surrendering to that knowledge was the first step towards getting back what they’d lost. Fighting against it wasn’t going to help them.
This is my story. Is it yours, too?
God has us in a season for a reason, and it’s going to go better for us if we pray for strength and direction to progress throughout it, rather than pray constantly that God will change things for us. If that’s not His plan, no amount of prayer is going to change it. It’s us He is wanting to change.
Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exhile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.
Instead of praying for rescue, God was telling His people to pray for peace and the well-being of the place around them, that would then have a flow-on affect to them personally.
I’ve learnt the hard way, God is watching how I allow myself to be obedient and mouldable in this land he has called me to establish myself in. He has proven peace and prosperity in different measures. Not always in the way I’ve prayed for, but He is always faithful to me.
Sometimes we’re so ungrateful about what He hasn’t done, we miss the joy in seeing what He has done. We don't always realise there are many things God's prevented from happening that we have not seen.
I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and I will bring you back from captivity (I will restore your fortunes). I will gather you… and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exhile.”
God promises to restore. Always. There is a bigger vision in the end. But many of those exhiles in the end, chose not to return to their land when they could have. That would have been inconceivable to them when they first entered their captivity, dressed only in their chains, forced to endure horrors they couldn’t have foreseen.
God can cause us to end up in a place of peace and prosperity no matter where we are, if we continue to place our trust and our hope in His plans. Satisfaction is not always what we thought it was, once we’ve walked along a pathway for a while. We’re shaped by our journey in ways that readjusts our perspective and enables us in such unexpected ways that it becomes us who change more than our circumstances. And from God’s perspective, that’s what Romans 8:28 refers to when it says He is able to work everything together for our good if we love Him. We're called according to His purposes, not our own.
Psalm 37:3-7 (The Voice)
3 Believe in the Eternal, and do what is good—live in the land He provides; roam, and rest in God’s faithfulness. Take great joy in the Eternal! His gifts are coming, and they are all your heart desires! Commit your path to the Eternal; let Him direct you. Put your confidence in Him, and He will follow through with you. He will spread out righteousness for you as a sunrise spreads radiance over the land; He will deliver justice for you into the light of the high sun. Be still. Be patient. Expect the Eternal to arrive and set things right.
Even the desires of our heart can change when we learn to take great joy in the Lord ahead of what’s going on in our life.
Our prayer then, can be:
Lord, you want me to prosper in any place I find myself – even if it’s where I didn’t expect to be; even if I’m here for a long time; even if I don’t want to be here. Help me to allow you to shape me and change me in the process so that I can be in the place, with the people you intend, when you intend it to be, and be who you need me to be. Expand my vision and change me according to what you see, so that when you have made me ready, I will go wherever you want me to go.