Ever felt restless and a little stuck in a rut? Not seeming to be going anywhere and questioning your reason for being? Wondering if God had any purpose for you any longer?
I’ve been a Christian for over 20 years and during that time God has done some amazing things in my life, bringing me out of a life of fear to a life of hope, miraculous healings and amazing provision. Even being touched by Jesus and experiencing his love for us, the list can go on. But about a year ago I found myself in a restless place, I was relatively happy but felt that there should be more purpose to my life, life was a bit… dull. At the same time I was wondering why many people I knew had received prophetic words spoken over their life by visiting prophets but I had not. Was I not important enough to receive a prophetic word? Did God not have a plan for me?
Then God in his grace decided to answer that question and I found myself in a place where He did just that and I received my first major prophetic word. The message was long and in depth, talking about my past, present and His plan for my future. Though encouraged by this message and His answering my request, at the same time I was a bit disappointed that the word for my future was one of being ‘steadfast’ and ‘lion hearted’; nice words but not very inspiring.
Then in the January something happened that turned my peaceful life upside down, my wife was diagnosed with cancer. All at once my safe and steady life came crashing down as the thought of what this might mean invaded my inner peace. What would happen to my wife, my children, my job? Would I have to stop working? How would we pay the bills? Could I cope with being a house husband and caring for my sick wife?
After some very helpful prayer from the church elders and their words of encouragement, my mind cleared and I started to seek God for the truth in what was happening. One of the first things he said was: ‘Live life in the reality of the moment. Stop thinking about what could or might happen but actually stop and see what is happening!’
The second word that God gave was ‘Jesus is walking with you in this journey, he will see you safely through to the end’.
Over the next few months of treatment and sickness there were lots of opportunities to be declaring these words as Tanya went through the process of chemotherapy and the associated after effects: tiredness, emotional ups and downs and physical discomfort. We had also heard lots of horror stories from people that had gone through terrible trials while on chemotherapy, but we felt determined not to live in the expectation of what had happened before but to trust God fully and to continue to praise Him and seek Jesus protection and support during the process. As we did that together our spirits were lifted and we continued to receive renewed hope and joy in our family, being steadfast and lion hearted in declaring Gods truth was the key to accessing God’s grace, and His grace was abundant throughout this period, and quite amazing. From the timely intervention of the doctors, the care of the nurses, support from work colleagues, the love, care and support of our church family and friends, protection from most of the major side effects – all of these came together to demonstrate His grace . The love and support poured out on us has been overwhelming.
Another unexpected bonus of the situation we found ourselves in was being given the opportunity to share God’s goodness and grace testimony with those around us, family, neighbours and work colleagues. Although it wasn’t a secret at work that I was a Christian and part of a vibrant outreaching church community, the subject of God, Jesus and His grace very rarely came up. But now colleagues, some that I knew well and some that I didn’t, wanted to hear how we were getting on and all I felt to do was share the wonderful truth that God was with us and that he was protecting and guiding us through what could have been a very horrible situation.
The Bible speaks a lot about giving thanks to God and seeking Him in good times and bad, and recently He reminded me of the story of Jesus healing the 10 lepers (Luke 17: 11 – 19). In the story Jesus heals 10 lepers, but only 1 came back to thank him. Jesus was very pleased with that man and says to Him ‘your faith has saved (healed) you’.
Like the Samaritan in the story I want myself and my family to be the ones that go back to thank Jesus for his love, care and healing, not dwell on the trial we find ourselves in, but focussing on Him and giving Him praise for standing by us in it.
There is opportunity in the trails we find ourselves in when we trust in God and recognise that he has a plan to prosper us and not to harm us. His plan to help us grow in faith and understanding provide the means by which we go from just plodding along to living in the fullness of His grace. The opportunity to not just survive suffering but to prosper in it, in order that we can be a witness to help others to overcome fear. God has reminded me that He is faithful and He does have a plan for me. That everything that has gone on in my life before is relevant and beneficial to what is happening now.
So what have I learnt from this ‘unexpected opportunity’? Just like Bilbo Baggins in the Hobbit: an unexpected Journey (from which my title is based) I was a set on a journey not by choice but by Gods design, to show that even though I may not be the biggest or the bravest, God can still use me to reclaim things that the enemy seeks to take away. The power to overcome is not by my might alone but is a combination of binding together as family to stand up to the enemy, to trust in the power of the Holy spirit to deliver us from traps of the enemy and allowing Jesus to take us along the journey to a safe and victorious end.
It also showed me that God has a plan for me. He meets me where I am. He gives me what I need when I need it. He knows me personally and works with me through my strengths and weaknesses that he can use to His purpose. As I trust Him I can expect to be given the strength and wisdom to overcome any obstacle. What He places in my heart and mind, however small is still important because together we make it a reality. It is testimony to His great glory and power.
Finally I want to be one of those people that when God delivers goes back to say thank you Jesus! One who rather than turn away from God in time of hardship, instead embraces Jesus and holds his hand as he prepares the way and leads us through the unknown to a safe and victorious end.
Amen and Praise God.