When I was in college down at Florida Atlantic University I was horrible at studying. By horrible I mean I never did it. Actual studying consists of consuming and reviewing new knowledge over increments of time. Who has time for that?! I was incredible at cramming everything in the night before and sometimes even the day of. I would try to figure out the most important ideas, grab better notes from someone else in the library, and ultimately fake my way through it. If passing college classes is what I had to do to prepare for my future, I was amazingly bad at it.
For most of us preparation equals stress. In all areas of our lives we need to prepare; work, school, parenthood, leadership, ministry, coaching, marriage, etc. In all those areas stress can get added to our preparation. We are uncertain of the outcome and some of us force ourselves to cram in every nugget of information [insert the What to Expect When You’re Expecting book here] while others get so overwhelmed that they throw their hands up and cash out.
I’ve been reading my way through the She Reads Truth reading plan for the Bible in a Year, which means I’ve spent a lot of time lately in Old Testament books like Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, etc. [For the non-Bible readers, these are the books with all of the commands and instructions, and pretty much no one jumps there for a good daily inspirational reading.] In these books we see the Israelite people get constant instruction from God regarding how they are to worship Him, celebrate, cleanse themselves, basically live, etc. In the same books, over and over again we see the Israelites mess up, breaking God’s commands.
The people of Israel were so stuck in their current situation (wandering around the wilderness) they couldn’t see that in the midst of it, God was preparing them for the promise. The promise in this case was land, a special place for the people to call their own. In these books God doesn’t say “If you make it to the land do this….”, He says “When you get there….” God knew the plan and promise He had for His people. He also knew they weren’t ready yet to receive it and would need some prepping along the way.
Is He prepping you along the way right now?
Sooner than later I will be taking the biggest and riskiest step in faith I have ever taken; leaving my established home church and helping launch a church plant in Toms River, NJ where I will be leading worship. Terrifying. Exciting. Unqualified. Sufficient. The mix of emotions is intense and real. My pattern of “cramming for exams” will not work in this situation. However, I have been given a promise. It is written that those who take delight (follow, love, trust, walk with) in the Lord will be given the desires of their hearts. That’s a promise. Never in a million years when I walked around aimlessly with the promise out of sight did I think God was preparing me for such a role. I can rest in the assurance that if God has promised it, He will be in it, and He will help to prepare me for the promise He has given.
The desires of our hearts vary, as do our life circumstances, but can you take a moment to look back and see how God has been shaping you for your future? The shaping is not easy, it can be painful and messy. It can be extremely long (think 40 years in the wilderness long). It is through both the victories and trials that God prepares us for His plan, His promises, His Kingdom building work [all night coffee cram session not needed].