I have generally found that before God is about to bring a change, victory or major breakthrough in something, that often we get ridiculously attacked in that area. The poo totally hits the fan. It gets soooo overwhelming that we wonder what the heck is going on...whether God has lost our address...forgotten our name...perhaps totally given up on us...because the fight is so fiery...so intense that we feel like we might just sink. But I have come to recognise that when the heat is on and I am finding it so hard to see...hard to stand...so hard to remain full of joy...so hard to keep faith filled...so hard to be confident about God's perfect plan for my life...that it's in those days...weeks...months...and seasons that I need to prove most faithful...most expectant...most enduring...most rooted in love...and most spirit led...because the very thing in which I'm being so majorly battered and bruised is the very area that I am going to see a crazy wow God breakthrough...I'm gonna see answered prayers beyond my wildest dreams...I'm going to see the crooked places become deliciously straight...and I'm going to see the love and goodness of God in a new light...in a MUCH greater, faith-fuelling way.
This very thing happened to me recently when I got a Word from God that I was going to be majorly blessed financially...immediately following the prophetic Word I experienced three months of such ridiculous lack that I almost got depressed...almost went over the edge haha...yet during the trial, in my heart I knew that somewhere in this fiery storm was a divine set up for my next season...that on the other side of the fight was the financial blessing that I knew was coming - but it wasn't going to JUST show up and be handed to me...I had to contend for it...I had to be willing to fight for it...my character had to be made mature enough to handle the blessing that was coming...my heart needing to recognise afresh who truly was the source of the blessing...and my faith needed a fresh place of growth...a fresh touch of the gift of faith.
And so when the financial breakthrough did come after that crazy season of oh so painful lack I had NO DOUBT that the blessing was from God. That He in His amazing love drenched wisdom had allowed (NOT initiated) the lack in my life in order to prepare me for the abundance. This filled me with fresh comfort on SO many levels. I was reminded that He is totally in charge. I was reminded that no matter how crazy the storm is, God is right there the whole time with us, championing us to come out stronger, maturer, more like His Son, humbler...and more yielded - so He can release all the juicy, delicious good stuff that He wants to lavish us with...longing for our characters to be able to handle the blessing. The book of James calls this faith under pressure:
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. (James 1:2-4 MSG)
I was reminded that no matter how dark things get, or how permanent and irreversible the mess may apparently seem when the struggles come, that the storm will surely pass and God WILL surely show up...He will work all things together for our good. I was also reminded that I simply don't pray on the mountain tops like I pray in the valleys. Haha. No matter how much I might try and kid myself when the poo hits the fan and I'm in the wilderness I pray like crazy. When things are sweet in my life, I know it...my prayers just don't have the same level of intensity.
I also now recognise how the Spirit of God will start speaking to you about stuff before the breakthrough is coming. The Holy Spirit will begin to renew your mind about certain thought patterns and perspectives you hold that need to change - mind sets that need to be renewed before the breakthrough comes. Back in the day I used to hear people say "God's really been speaking to me about..." And I kinda didn't know what they meant. How did they know? I was getting convicted about loads of stuff all the time and so I wasn't really sure how you could identify one or two specific things that you felt God was saying to you above all the other stuff...I mean wasn't God speaking to you about everything? But see now I actually get it. It's like even with all the daily conversations you are having with Him, God stirs your heart up for a certain thing and you can't get away from it...you begin to sense a prompting from heaven, telling you that you need to pay attention to how God sees this particular issue...that you need to change your thinking in an area and line it up better to what the Word says.
And so with this whole financial struggle that I faced I found my heart pulling towards one area in particular. As the lack continued I remember my ever amazing Pastor talking about tithes and offerings at church. I remember literally being arrested and not being able to move...as he shared that tithes are what keeps the devourer (the enemy who steals from us) away from our stuff but it's the offering that we voluntarily bring to God that calls in the abundance. I was like DOHHHHH! How could I have forgotten that???! I suddenly realised that over the last four years as I'd lived by faith, trusting God to pay me my salary, that yes I had been completely provided for and even had blessings lavished upon me time and time again but I wasn't living in abundance. I realised that I had stopped bringing offerings before the Lord when bringing my tithes. I had obviously alway bought my tithes - that was non negotiable but I had felt that I simply couldn't afford a regular financial offering...so I had given myself as an offering month upon month year upon year as a substitute. Yet here God was challenging me to start bringing my monetary offering again. I felt He was saying that where He was taking me and what He wanted to give me couldn't be released until I tapped into the principle of bringing my seed offering regularly, trusting Him to be the one to provide for it. And so I did. I started giving beyond my means. I started blessing God and people in a way that I felt I had not been able to do for several years. I refused to count the cost and asked God to anoint me afresh with a heart of generosity.
And then pretty much immediately the financial breakthrough kicked in. Woohoo. Props to Jesus!! Yay...I do believe following the fiery fight for the blessing...after all the contending...after the renewal of my mind...once I had obeyed God - I believe I was perhaps a little more equipped to handle the blessing...I was a little more aware of the source of my every single breakthrough...A little more trusting of Gods timing...a little more experiencially knowledgable of Gods love and goodness...a little more alert to the sound of Gods voice...a little maturer...a little stronger...a little more faith filled. Aaah God is SO merciful and kind. It helps me no end to see time and time again that we have SUCH a beautiful, loving, giving, gorgeous Father in heaven who wants to lavish us with everything...absolutely everything...but that He is first and foremost after our hearts...and in the fiery places it's our hearts and characters that He is perfecting. He is faithful beyond belief. And no matter what we go through we will always come out winning...because God watches over the fulfilment of His Word in our lives to see it come to pass...and as painful, prolonging and purging as the process might be Papa always knows best. He always works it out. Good always comes out of it. We just have to trust and obey. x