Break On Through
See this picture of a woman beating a thick wall with a sledge-hammer? This is perhaps the closest representation I could find of myself short of picking up a hammer and beating a wall myself. I have been praying to break through for what seems like forever. Career break through, writing break through, financial break through and most of all spiritual break through. Be careful what you pray for. God answers prayer but seldom in the way we envision.
Wall Meet Hammer
We have spent the last several weeks in the book of James. The revelations have been profound for my spiritual walk. I have seen a shift in so many areas, but joy seemed to be just out of my grasp. Do you recall my post a couple of weeks ago outlining all the crap that had been thrown in my path? I tried to be positive, to stay strong. I was drowning. I could not get my head above water because I was trying to do it on my own. I was getting increasingly frustrated and even a little depressed. Then I had the revelation, I have to be open to receive in order to be a true giver. Then I was convicted about the amount of my tithe and immediately started tithing on my first fruits – not my net. We are talking rapid fire moments of God gently teaching me and telling me, “No, Sue, this is the way.”
In my connect group, we have somewhat adopted the mantra of “Enough is enough”. We have scripture substantiating that we are children of God and above so much of the mess we are trudging through. Our case is different. I read and I prayed. I spoke scripture over my circumstances but something kept tugging at me. A thought of “What am I doing wrong? Are my motives wrong? Where is my break through? Is there something else I need to fix?” This started pulling at my spirit and you could see it in my countenance. This nasty little mind monster was tearing at my faith. I was pounding on that giant wall with a hammer and nothing was happening.
Sunday, Pastor Luke was giving the message on the final week of the James series and he hit the nail on the head. I cried the rest of the service and part of the afternoon. Part relief, part mourning and maybe a glimpse of joy. Though he was preaching from James, he referred to the book of Jonah. He went through the first chapter, which was like a mirror image of my life. God tells Jonah go do this, he disobeys, everything gets stormy and you are gobbled up by a fish. (Okay so I did not get swallowed by a fish unless you want to call depression and anxiety a big stinky fish.) Jonah was in the belly of that fish for 3 days and nights. Chapter 2 starts with “Then, Jonah prayed…”. My first thought…WHAT AN IDIOT? I would desperately like to believe I would have started praying on the boat or at least by the time I was chilling in the stomach of something. (Yuck) I am not so sure. I would have been trying to figure things out. I would have probably prayed, fervently when I thought I was beyond hope.
That moment in service stilled my heart and mind. Once I was still and let God speak to my spirit I saw the problem. I was trying to figure out what “I” needed to fix, instead of letting God do what he was patiently waiting to do all along…give me my breakthrough.
Joy Comes In The Morning
I went to my connect group more for the purpose of protected prayer time than for the actually bible study. I wanted to be somewhere surrounded by other praying people and just talk to my Father. I cannot describe the drive, the need adequately. It still was not enough.
A group of ladies from church had decided to carpool up to hear Evangelist Jonathan Shuttlesworth and Pastor Rodney Hoard-Browne who were having a Holy Ghost Revival in Pittsburgh, PA. I had mixed emotions about going, if I am honest. My husband had medical testing that morning and I had not really slept that night. I could watch online. I decided I needed to go. I am honestly not sure if in my mind it was about being at the revival or just being around other women of God. I needed…something. I had heard Jonathan Shuttlesworth several times and he will be in our town in a little over a month. I have heard segments of Pastor Howard-Browne and was interested to hear him speak, but again, I have the internet.
Needless to say that small act of obedience to God produced huge results for me spiritually. Adonica Howard-Browne’s testimony might as well have been a personal letter to me. I realized sitting in that chair in a hotel conference room that I had been stifling joy. In fact, I realized I was afraid of it on some level.
Afraid of joy, that seems stupid right? Here is the thing, in the natural we are afraid of things that are different, unknown or strange to us. Joy, real joy that burns in your belly, was so strange to me. The other stranger was Peace. Again, I am talking real peace. Peace that when you look at your check book and realize there is not enough to take care of everything, you are not panicking. I am not talking about being irresponsible or cavalier, I am simply saying, one way or another, God has this.
Then Came The Rain
Evangelist Shuttesworth came up for the purpose of taking an offering. Let me explain to those who have not been in a service with a true Evangelist, it is impossible for them to stand before a group of people and not deliver the Word of God. Seriously, it is physically impossible. Out of his mouth came our connect group mantra, “Enough is enough”. That is all I remember of what he said. I had brought a little cash with me for the offering, but his message and the Spirit made me feel it was inadequate. That is about the time I started speaking my prayer language quietly. I wanted God to lead me. At first I thought okay I have exactly this much in the bank that is not promised out for a bill. I felt sick, not like panic but in the pit of my belly that was not right. I started to just reach for the twenty in my wallet and again I felt that yuck in the pit of my stomach. Ten percent came to mind. I thought, “That can’t be right, I already tithe on my first fruits and give more as I am able.” Ten percent persisted in my mind and did not stop persisting until I finished writing the check. I continued to pray as the message from Evangelist Shuttlesworth continued. “Lord, I want to give to your kingdom. I want to be faithful and generous. I gladly give this too you.” I wanted that money to go forward with the right motive and intention.
Peace fell on me. I was not anxious about giving this offering. I was happy I could give it. Yes, it makes things tight but it is not a sacrifice if we don’t feel it. I feel it, but I am happy and peaceful about it.
Perhaps for some peace must be in advance of joy. I received peace and was able to give. I gave and received peace. It was somewhat cyclical the way it unfolded. After the offering, Adonica Howard-Browne took the platform. I confess before she completed a full sentence I felt like I wanted to hug her. She is an anointed woman with such a loving, joyful spirit. Between Sunday’s message about Jonah and Adonica’s testimony I felt a release. Something came off of me and on Monday July 17th at the Airport Marriott in Pittsburgh I experienced JOY. I spent the rest of that night in service speaking my prayer language at alternating volumes, laughing and receiving as I have never received before. I received Joy.
Remember the saying “God helps those who help themselves”? That is possibly the biggest faith killer statement that was in my arsenal. I can’t just wait and pray…I have to go out and do. I do not think God wants you to be a bump on a log, but when you pray for a career break through you envision success and huge pay checks. That is what I was striving for. That honestly does not line up with my heart or where I feel I am being called. I want a dependable job that pays the bills. I want to focus on getting debt free not so much for a great retirement, I want to free myself up financially for service to others, mission trips and whatever else God has in store. I want to lose weight and have a healthier lifestyle so I can have the energy and endurance to serve others.
That wall I had been beating on was me thinking I knew what was best. It was my understanding of what was needed in my life skewing what really matters. It was the drive I talked about moving me in the wrong direction. I want nothing more than to be led, to be generous and be exactly where God intends me to be.
If you are anything like me, you have been striving to see a breakthrough in your life. In could be health, finances, your children or any number of things that we go through. I still have challenges, but God is faithful. For me, I had to learn a few things, to realize some foundational concepts about my relationship with God before I could breakthrough. Pray without ceasing. Be fervent in your prayer. Your miracle, your breakthrough is just ahead.