Tuesday, April 16, 2019

I HEARD THE LORD ASK, "ARE YOU READY?"

As I lay in bed sleeping early the morning of August 5, 2017, I heard the audible voice of the Lord. “Are you ready?” He asked me. Then I felt a gentle touch on my shoulder. I opened my eyes and lay still for a moment or two thinking about the question I had just heard. Then, I responded in a whisper, “Ready for what?”

I waited but heard nothing more. Later that morning, as I prepared for church, I heard the Lord speak a second time. Only this time, He spoke quietly to my spirit. “Are you ready?” He asked again. He continued by telling me every experience that He has allowed me to encounter and every person He has placed in my life has been for the purpose of equipping me and preparing me for everything that He has for me. The question was to prompt me to ready myself for what He has prepared for me at this particular time in my life. So I thought about my life and tried to reconcile everything I have gone through - the good, the bad and the ugly. This included the circumstances I was currently going through which was probably the worst experience to date that I could remember...

Just a few months earlier, I watched in disbelief as my life literally shut down around me. It all began in March, 2016, after my husband received a dream. In the dream, the Lord showed him a dot on a map which was located in another state. There were no instructions in the dream, just a visual image. We later realized that the dream was a message from the Lord preparing us for a geographical move. I got the message pretty early on however the idea seemed so ridiculous to my husband at the time that he refused to believe it because it didn't make logical sense in light of everything that was going on in our life at the time.

As it appeared to us, the Lord was blessing my husband on his job. He had received a double promotion the year before and the money was better than it had ever been. Also, I had just launched what should have been a successful online home d├ęcor business. Our ministry and family life seemed to be thriving and we had just found out that my oldest daughter was pregnant with our second grandson. However, God’s plans do not always line up with our plans which can often be deceiving.

In addition to my husband’s dream, I had also received a few dreams. One relayed a message from the Lord that I should not work as I had been working. It was during this time that the Lord told me that I was to focus on my writing which is a part of my ministry. The other dream warned me of changes that were to come to my husband’s place of employment. It was shown to me that this change would result in him losing his job - which came to past. Still, however, we ignored these signs for our eyes and our hearts were telling us something different. Eventually, God's timing took precedence over ours and the Lord began to shut everything down.

Still not understanding what the Lord was doing, we tried everything we could to cling to our life as we knew it believing God would turn things around. But nothing was fruitful. As our finances waned, it became crystal clear that the Lord was, in fact, uprooting us from one place and moving us to another.

As one who prefers to plan ahead, this was especially difficult for me. With only a geographical location in mind and tears in my eyes, we moved reluctantly towards the unknown. We had no idea where we were going to live, what we were going to do when we got there and how we were going to afford it all. Miraculously, on the day of our move, money showed up in my bank account that just happened to be exactly enough for what we needed to do to get from point A to point B - no more, no less. Little did we know that God had already paved the way before us and opened doors that only He could have moved.

In the months prior to our move, the Lord had orchestrated events that led us to meet a pastor and his wife who were located in this new place and we quickly became friends. After arriving, we faithfully attended and actively participated in their church. My husband immediately found work and I continued with my writing. I even pursued getting my real estate license and we began to look for a house. Just when we thought things were going to settle down, the Lord instructed me to give a word of rebuke to the pastor and his wife. Obediently, I gave the word as the Lord instructed - thus ending our friendship. Shortly thereafter, the Lord made it known that He was moving us again. 

Upon arriving at the second new location, we encountered a family crisis, survived a hurricane, continued to struggle financially and nearly lost all of our earthly possessions. The mounting stress was almost unbearable and it was taking a toll on our marriage. Yet, in the midst of it all, I have to say God was still there. He never abandoned us. He provided for us, sustained us and even performed a few miracles along the way. Although nothing happened the way I had hoped, everything happened as God would have it.

In fact, it became clear to me that the more I was losing in the natural, the more I was gaining in the spiritual... I heard God speak more. I received more messages through dreams and visions. The Lord revealed to me more wisdom and taught me more lessons. There was even an incident where God allowed me to experience spiritual warfare, upfront and personal, when He revealed to me in a dream the shocking details of a family member’s life and her deep involvement in witchcraft. I was in awe of the Lord and how He orchestrated everything. Not knowing what to expect, we approached the family members who were involved prepared to confront the demonic. It was all so surreal. No one could deny that God is God for everyone admitted that everything He had shown me in the dream was absolutely true. It was a terrible time and yet it was an amazing time all at the same time.

As I stood in the mirror preparing myself for church that morning, exhausted and overwhelmed, I thought about it all. So I gave the Lord an honest answer to the question He had asked. “No, Lord," I responded. "I am not ready.” Then quickly, I remembered Who it was that I was talking to and the call that was on my life. I also remembered the promises that I am holding on to - and I could not deny the faith I have in Jesus Christ to fulfill it all. So quickly I added, “However, I will be.” So I continue to pray for the faith, strength and right attitude to successfully fulfill all that God has for me, in Jesus’ name.

Followers of Jesus Christ, I am here to ask you the very same question. “Are you ready?” The life of a Believer is not easy and it is not for the weak or the faint at heart. Regardless of what you're going through and regardless of what your life may look like, know that God is still in it. He has a divine plan for your life. I want to encourage you to look beyond what you see in the physical and focus on what God is doing in the spiritual. He has spoken His Will concerning you. He is sending His angels before you to prepare the places you will go. He is touching the hearts of many and granting you favor with the people He has destined for you to meet. He has placed power in your words and His authority in your hands. He is going to use you according to His Will and He will do whatever He needs to do to bring it to past. But, even in all of this, He will not force Himself or His Will upon you. You must be ready and willing to receive it.

Pray and ask the Lord to strengthen you for His Call. Ask Him to grow your faith so that you will believe and not doubt when times get hard. Ask Him to lift you higher so your standards will not be lowered. Do not allow the spiritual warfare that we all must battle to get the best of you. Put on the Armor of God, get back in the fight and boldly proclaim to the Lord, “I am ready!”

I leave you with the following Scripture to further encourage you: "Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad - for these trials make you partners with Christ in His suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing His glory when it is revealed to all the world. If you are insulted because you bear the name of Christ, you will be blessed, for the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you... it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by His name for the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News?" 1 Peter 4:12-17

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