I’m not sure at what place it happens, it’s probably different for every person, but I’m sure each of us has gone through that place where we look at our life and feel disappointed with some or many aspects of it. The older we get, the more we usually wish we could go back and do things based on the knowledge we’ve gained from experience. It seems somewhat unfair that God would wait until opportunities pass for us to know enough to take advantage of them! So when do opportunities, future possibilities and the chance to do something you’re excited about cease to exist? If we continue to operate in the way the world would have us live, we can feel regret at any age and believe we’ve missed our defining moment. Believe we’ll never be all we’d hoped to be. There’s so many things we can mess up that contribute to this mindset; a destroyed relationship, what looks like the wrong job, or the wrong college choice or the wrong major. Then there are wasted opportunities, a bad choice, a never ending stream of bad choices that led us to a dark place. Mistakes, large or small, contribute to this mindset as does the end of something. You’ve spent 5, 10, 15 maybe 30 years down a path and then all of a sudden it’s over, it feels like there’s just no more possibilities in front of you.
What do we do with these circumstances, situations, feelings and emotions? Changing the way we are looking at our circumstances and how we perceive their effect on what happens next is difficult at best and more typically paralyzing. Believe it or not, that’s what the enemy is working to do, steal our ability to believe for good in our lives. 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT) says, Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Since we know he doesn’t actually eat us, what is this telling us? I believe that one of the things it’s telling us is that the devil looks to devour our hope, our joy, our ability to believe and expect good. Similar to what happens to plants when you take away the sunlight and water and they in turn wither and die, when the enemy is able to choke, smother and squelch our desires and expectations we, over time, wither and die on the inside. It can be a long slow process or it can be a sudden, earth shaking event; regardless, his anticipated outcome is the same, to convince us that the life we’ve hoped for has passed us by and what lays before us is a barren wasteland of sorrow and personal suffering.
BUT THAT’S A LIE!!! Yes, it’s true, those things you’ve believed, the way you are looking at your situation, circumstance, your barren wasteland is not the truth. A well crafted, very real feeling lie but a lie nonetheless. Jesus says, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:10 NLT) . I don’t think we can get any plainer than that! He knows what the enemy is up to and Jesus tells us, as real as that may seem, it’s the thief, the devil, and here’s his objective…but I say, in me I intend you to have a rich and satisfying life, and he doesn’t just mean when you’re young or when your smart enough (as if!) or for a certain period of your life. No, the Word is clear, His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23). As we look through the Bible we see time and again that age (remember Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born), intelligence (be honest, how many times did you laugh when you read Peter asking Jesus another crazy question), mistakes (David, a man after God’s own heart, made plenty!), starting off on the wrong foot (I mean, Paul was killing Christians when God called him…really?!) and the list goes on and on and on; are not the determining factor to achieving God’s plan for us. Praise God!
It pleases God to take what is, in our eyes, the worst possible mess or dry lifeless place and turn it around for His glory and our benefit. He does the work and we get to experience the joy! My prayer is that you will have the courage to offer up your loss, your debt, your chaos and confusion and, in knowing that He is good and He loves you unconditionally, place it firmly and squarely in His hands and say, “Here, I can’t wait to see what You do with this!! I messed it up really good, but I’m taking You at Your Word, I’m expecting that beauty for ashes and that oil of joy for mourning!”
Do you see what we’ve done? We’ve taken our eyes off of ourselves, our situation and circumstances and instead placed them on Jesus. We’re looking at Him with expectation, not the plan or thing. It’s a mess, why do we want to watch it? But Jesus, He’s worthy of our attention and confidence and expectation. In Him the possibilities are endless to what He will craft out of our barrenness, our tangled jumble of mistakes or seeming missed opportunities. Remember, He is the redeemer, the restorer, the one who speaks life and says “Yes” and “Amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20).
I understand that challenge and struggle of trying to stop looking at the problem. I have plenty that are all around me at this very moment, but this I know, I don’t want the solution I can come up with or the future I create. I’m ready for something much better, more fulfilling and something I don’t have to sustain. I’m ready to look to Jesus, my messes and fears firmly in His hands, and I can see by looking in His eyes that He is excited and He knows that what He’s going to do with it is far beyond anything I could think up! I’m ready to strike on the greatest adventure and time of my life…truly a daily life full of possibilities.
A Daughter’s Prayer: Abba, here I am, in a dark hour where I realize that nothing I’ve done has brought me to where I hoped I’d be. Instead, I’ve done the very things I intended not to do and ended up with messes I have no ability to fix. Thank You that I and my mistakes are not a surprise to You. That You knew all of this and are waiting to take me and my barrenness in with arms wide open, excited to turn my ashes into something beautiful and my mourning into the greatest joy I’ve ever experienced. Holy Spirit, help me receive God’s amazing grace in my situations and circumstances and realize that You are not mad at me or ashamed of me, in fact nothing could be further from the truth. You are proud of me, love me with unfathomable love and pour favor on me as You beloved daughter. Lead me to the places You are crafting and designing for me; a life of possibilities where I can see You live and move and have your way in my life and those You have designed that I can touch with Your love and beauty. Restore unto me the joy of my salvation and continue to draw me daily into the way everlasting! In Jesus’ holy name, amen.