We all want something in life. Maybe it is your dream to get married. Maybe you desire a promotion at work or something new like a car, television, or gaming system. Sometimes we just want peace and understanding. However, these things don’t just come out of nowhere. You can’t just get married (I mean you could, but I’m not sure if that is the best idea). Before marriage, usually you take the time to get to know the person you want to marry. You make sure you are compatible with that person, you make sure that you can still love them even on a bad day. You don’t just meet someone and say: “Hey, let’s just get married!” There’s a process that happens before the ceremony.
When it comes to that promotion, you spend time working towards you. You strive for greatness each and every day, showing your supervisor that it is something you really want. First, you build a relationship with your boss and coworkers. You get to know the company you are working for. There are beginning steps. You don’t just go to the store and buy that awesome television or gaming system. No, first you need to make sure you have the money to buy it. You make sure that you are working enough hours to afford it, you set funds aside by diligently working on a budget, and then proceed to purchase. There are steps the precede the purchase.
Sometimes, we just want peace. We want understanding. We want to know why something is happening. Or maybe we just want God to use us in ways unimaginable. We go through hardships and storms and sometimes expect God to just give us that peace, but when it doesn’t happen, we being to lose our faith.
Let me share a personal example of this. About four years ago there was a shooting at Chardon High School. This was my high school. My siblings and I were all in the building when it happened. You can imagine the hurt and pain everyone in the city of Chardon, and even the surrounding cities, went through. I remember sitting on the pew at church that evening (PAG held a prayer vigil). I glanced around at everyone… some were crying, some were praying, some were just comforting. I began to think, “God, how did this happen? Why my school? Why my freshman year of high school?” These thoughts just kept flooding my mind. Soon my eyes were filled with tears. I just could not make sense of this. I had no peace and my heart was broken.
Soon someone prayed over me. They prayed that I would feel the peace of God in this horrific situation. They prayed that I would feel the love of God even though a horrible tragedy had just occurred. However, even after these prayers were said, I still did not feel peace. Why? I soon realized it was because I was not letting God give me that peace. I hadn’t personally accepted the peace Christ was so freely desiring to give to me in such a time as that. I wanted to feel peace, I wanted to feel God’s presence, but before I did, I had to willingly accept what God was trying to give me.
You see friends, there are steps we have to take before things “just happen”. There are storms before the peace, there are trials before the celebration. In my personal example, I had to get my heart to the right position in understanding that, even though something awful had just happened at my high school, God is still God and He was still in control. I had to accept that, even though many were suffering and mourning, it was okay to accept the peace that God wanted to give me. I had to make sure my heart was in the right posture in order to receive what I wanted and what I needed.
Take college for example: students go through hours upon hours of writing papers and studying for exams. They desire to do well and to succeed, but in order to do that and earn the grade they want, they cannot just go into a final exam and expect to get an “A” without putting any effort into it. No, they have to put in the effort of studying and preparing themselves. Then, and only then, can they reach their goal of an “A” because of the work they put in.
God honors the work we put in. It shows over and over, time and time again. Look at the Israelites, when they left Egypt they were trapped in bondage, sin, and abuse. Then they came to the Red sea and felt like they were at a dead end; like God had led them there to die. But God saw the faithfulness of Moses and recalled His own promise and He parted the Red Sea.
When you finally get that promotion, it’s because your supervisor is honoring the efforts you have put in. When I finally felt peace after the tragedy at my high school, it was because God was honoring my newly found trust in Him that He was (and still is) in control.
Friends, I encourage you to listen to Pastor Aaron’s sermon, “The BEFORE Principle” on PAG’s podcast. Listen to the ways that God honored Joshua for the efforts and steps he took before he inherited the blessing of the Promise Land. Learn about the barriers that may have been stopping him, or even the Israelites, as they moved forward in the wilderness, and how they overcame them.
Friends, do you have a barrier that is holding you back from accepting the promises God has for you? Do you need to begin those first steps towards Jesus in order to receive what He has next for you? Take a step and put your trust in Jesus and He will help you overcome those barriers.
PAG College Student, Blogger, Writer