I have begun to realize that every time I have truly put my trust in God to take me where He wants to take me in life, God ups the ante the next time around. It started when I knew I wanted to go to Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry in 2009, but had no car and no place to stay in California. I prayed for three long months to find the place I had envisioned in my mind (I had some very specific requirements, and the devil tried to tell me I was too picky). But then, a few months before the school started, I got a car and a place to stay within 24 hours of each other. I called this Level 1 because, though it would have been sad had I not gained the car and house, I would have probably just stayed in dorms in a nearby university and bummed a ride to school, so it wouldn’t have been a total loss.
Level 2 happened when I was about halfway through my school year at Bethel. I was set to run out of money in about a month and could not land a job anywhere. I could, potentially, have to pack up and leave California prematurely. I remember sitting in the Wal-Mart parking lot, frustrated at being rejected everywhere and tired of trying. So I wrote a poem there in my car which you can read here, in which I told God that I was just going to let Him take care of it. That evening my parents called, and though I didn’t disclose my financial struggles, they told me that a few years back my grandparents had actually set aside a sum of money for me to use in school, and they wanted to send me some. Booyeah!
Level 3 was about a year later. Similar issue – no money – but the situation was slightly different. I had been invited to go to Africa, but was completely broke 3 months before the trip and needed close to $3500. What’s more, I felt God tell me to not even worry about getting a job, but rather just minister wherever I could. Oh yes, and, I wasn’t going to fundraise. So…I ended up working two minimum-wage jobs where I got to meet people where they were at and share the goodness of God. This didn’t earn near enough to cover the trip expenses. About three weeks before my plane was set to leave, I got the bill for my airfare, which came out to $1483. That same evening, I met with some friends to whom I had ministered at an earlier time, and they said they would like to donate towards my trip. The cheque they wrote was for – no joke – $1500.
I believe I’m actually in Level 4 right now, if I may be transparent. You see, the first three levels were all things that I had a vision for, and I could stand on God’s word till they came to pass. That’s become pretty straightforward. But now, I’m dealing with not even actually knowing what God’s word is for this time in life. In a sense this is much more difficult, because it means constantly fighting feelings of inadequacy, of missing purpose in life, being lazy, and not being able to hear God’s voice. I have a vision for doing many different things in life, but as of now none of these seem to be working out. Since I know God grants the desires of the heart to those who delight in Him (Psalm 37:4), I am being patient and not selling out to something less.
For example, I had three interviews this week for a job I had been hoping to get, but I just found out I didn’t land it. From an earthly perspective this would be quite difficult. But when I look at it with the mind of Christ, I find myself completely unconcerned! It’s an incredible thing to live from the reality of being seated in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6) knowing that there can only be something better in store. This was simply a test, an upping of the ante, and it will pay off in the end.
With the grace given me for this time, I want to encourage anyone who feels as though they are in a valley with some practical tips I’ve used to make it to the next level.
First off, don’t romanticize the past. Remember, Israel in the desert continually talked about their “great” experience in Egypt, when God had something just around the corner for them better than they could have ever imagined.
Second, don’t feed yourself on what God hasn’t done. Be honest with God (you can’t fool Him anyway), but don’t become bitter. Jesus took three days to get to the sick Lazarus, and by the time he got there, Lazarus had died. Just think – if Lazarus’ family had gotten offended at Jesus when He didn’t arrive on their schedule, they would have missed one of the most ridiculous miracles in Jesus’ ministry!
Third – “There are no problems, only opportunities.” Get it.
Finally, find some promises in the Bible, and get some specific things to pray towards. Psalm 32:8, Matthew 7:7, Matthew 6:33 are a few I’ve drawn from lately. Don’t be afraid to ask for specific things if they are to help you love the world! I’ve been praying for a Macbook Pro, and I believe this is not with selfish motives (John 15:7).
Our future selves will thank us for not selling out for less than what God has for us. So if any of y’all are going through what I currently am, just know you’re not alone. So be encouraged and prepare to change the world!
“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to join ranks with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much, nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”
-Theodore Roosevelt, Chicago, 1905. “The Strenuous Life.”