Mind the Gap

Ever heard a sermon or song you wish you wrote? This is definitely one of those.

In 2017, Craig Clark visited our church in the Middle East and introduced a fascinating idea about a Gap, and what to do with it. That was one message that spoke to me on many levels and still speaks to me today.

If you ever travelled by train in the UK there is a sign or audible recording which says to ” mind the gap”.  That phrase is deeply embedded in pop culture today and has been applied severally. The gap I allude to in this write up though is where your experiences do not line up with your expectations.

We have all been there. We have these five-year plans and big dreams. Others have prophetic words which they have received. Those words , hopes and dreams help frame our expectations for today. With change being the only constant, we can agree that a couple of years later, our 5-year plans do not exactly pan out as expected and we often find ourselves waiting for those promises to manifest in our lives. The result? Discouragement, potential depression and sometimes we choose to give up on those dreams. As the bible says, “Hope deffered makes the heart sick”. Prov 13:5

I go through that gap period often. There was a season where I wondered if singing was for me because, in the natural, things weren’t lining up with God’s promises. There was another season where I wondered if I will ever complete my PhD program. I went on to do both things after a season of waiting. In this season, I am still wondering if I will ever…the list goes on and you can probably fill in the blanks as you reflect on your own life.  Think about those dreams that keep you awake, those promises that resonate deeply in your heart and for my single friends – that spouse of your dreams. We get frustrated when we do everything we can and yet we see no movement or progress in the direction of fulfilment. I believe that God wants us to be courageous in the gap as Kristene DiMarco writes in her song Take courage,” He’s in the waiting”. God is indeed there if you let Him carry you through your season of waiting.

So how does God want us to manage this gap between expectation and our experience?

1. Don’t give up! Cliche sounding I know, but the truth none the less. The bible is full of people who actively lived in the Gap. From Abraham to Joseph, Moses, and David. What was the common thread amongst these people? They believed and kept on believing whilst they waited. I know that the easiest thing for me to do during a gap and an especially long one is to forget about the promise, the goal, the expectation. But often times I hear God say “ Remember what I told you”. God doesn’t forget his promises, but sadly we do especially during a long wait.

2. Pray about it!  Duh, you may say. But I have found that remaining persistent in prayer long term over an issue takes faith and humility- stemming from a knowledge that God is able to deliver on his promises and secondly you can’t do anything to hurry that fulfilment along. The second part is especially difficult for us fixers. We know that God is at work in our circumstance but we want to just fix it and get on with the next project.

3. Rest! I know this is easier said than done. But when we are praying and truly surrendering to God, we get into a place of “active rest”. Rest is quite distinct from forgetting about it. Rest is waiting in faith for as long as it takes, knowing that God is faithful to his promises and that he hears you.

4. Praise! One of my favourite scriptures is found in Isaiah 54: 1. It says, Sing oh barren woman… burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in Labor…; because more are the children of the desolate woman…” I don’t think it gets more descriptive than that. Sing of God’s goodness and his faithfulness. Let God become bigger than those mountains, as David says, MAGNIFY the Lord. Psalm 34:3. We tend to magnify the Gap rather than think of the goodness and greatness of our God. Someone once gave me a prophetic word in the midst of one of my many gap seasons, reminding me to sing!sing!sing! Tell those mountains who is boss! I encourage you to give God those high praises through the Gap as you await the fulfilment of his promises to you.

Over to you. How have you managed the gap seasons of your life and what has God taught you through those seasons?

New Beginnings

For a couple of weeks, I have been watching the trees in our garden for signs of change to finally mark the arrival of spring. One evening, I looked up and saw some red buds on the tree (pictured). That sight filled me with hope that indeed those lovely leaves are on their way, spring was here.

When we think about spring, we often picture lovely blooming flowers and trees with luscious fruit and leaves, but we forget how it starts. At the commencement of spring, the trees don’t have those luscious greenery which we have come to expect but little buds. These buds tell us that those blooms that we’re used to seeing are on the way. That in just a few weeks and with lots of rain we will see those leaves and flowers bloom.

Seeing those buds on the trees reminds me of Job 14:8-9 “Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant. (NIV)

I believe that picture is so representative of our lives. We give up hope when we don’t see God’s promises coming to pass because things look as lackluster as those plain looking buds. We miss God’s hand work in our lives because he works in unexpected ways just as we miss the tree changes because we don’t notice anything different until we take a closer look. We want to see our dreams fulfilled in high definition but in comparison it looks like things are happening in very slow fashion.

We sometimes miss the little changes which are signs of coming fruitfulness and a sign of the great things God has in store. Those indicators that God hasn’t forgotten us and his promises are true and that he is committed to fulfilling his word. We miss those signs because we’re looking for big things. We compare ourselves with others and come up short and use that as a measure of the realization of God’s promises in our lives.

I believe this Easter as we celebrate the resurrection, God wants to remind us that he has begun to bring his promises to pass in our lives. As Isaiah 43:19 says, ” Behold, I do a new thing. Even now it springs forth. shall you not perceive it”? We don’t often perceive what God is doing while it is in progress. But as we quiet our souls down and stay in a place of active rest, we will begin to perceive the change in seasons that ushers in something new and beautiful in our lives.

I remember very recently, I walked into church with my heart in so much turmoil because I had many directional questions for God with no answers. That day we were worshiping to the song “God, who moves the mountains” by Healing is Right. It felt so apt as I felt surrounded by mountains. I worshiped my heart out in an otherwise conservative environment. After service, someone walked up to me and gave me a word saying a lot of apt things including that God wanted me to stay in active rest because he was indeed going to move those mountains. In so many ways I can now see what he is doing. I can see the “little buds of hope” that signal that a big season change is on the way.

Similarly, spring started since 5 p.m. March 25th. However, nothing changed on that day. I practically rolled my eyes when they made the announcement on the radio because we still had subzero temperatures. The fact that my experience indicated more “sprinter” than spring did not change the fact that a new season had begun. In the same way, some of you reading this are at the cusp of something new. As you read this, know that God is not done yet. His word over you is taking from right now. Your new season is on the way.

I pray that God will give us eyes to perceive what he’s doing not only in our lives but in our world in this season because his promises are true. Happy Easter everyone.

Courage

I have desired to start a blog for the longest time. I even registered this blog, had a couple of posts typed, however I still managed to talk myself out of it just before it was time to post them. Why? you may ask. People who know me well would probably be surprised at my admission. They know that I am always willing to share whatever insight and revelation I receive from God in any season of my life. However, putting myself out there has been particularly challenging for me.

As a professional, I struggled with how I wanted my colleagues and potential employers to perceive me. Being in the Middle East, I wanted to be careful and wise about what I shared on social media. However, in a bid to be careful, I became fearful, and that fear gave way to complete reticence. So even though I have felt the stirring in my heart for so long, my inhibitions always had the upper hand and those ideas remained in my word processor document or in my head.

Amid my self-imposed limitations, I have heard God say to me in the words of the song I wrote 10 years ago, Strength – “Have no fear, for I am with you and do not be dismayed for I am your God.” from Isaiah 41:10, and “This is my command-be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord God is with you wherever you go”. Joshua 1:9

What then does courage look like? I have heard so many definitions of courage including the following from the web dictionary as “the ability to do something that frightens one”. I think this definition paints a beautiful picture of the willingness to act even when one is potentially scared of the outcome. As a Christian, the idea of courage goes beyond acting in spite of fear to one of trust. A dear friend of ours spoke about doing the trust fall game with his kids to teach them the principle of trust, with a view to ultimately show them that God can be trusted.  With this illustration in mind, if we felt God calling us to change the status quo and move beyond our self-imposed limitations, what should our response be? A fearful one resulting from the worst possible scenarios that play themselves out in our minds, or one of trust in a loving Father who never sends us where his grace cannot take us?

I suggest it is the latter. We trust that God will catch us always, and underneath us are his everlasting arms (Deut 33:27). As someone puts it, we can’t lose for winning. Fear makes us look in the wrong direction- at ourselves and our own abilities whilst God calls up to look up as Lauren Daigle sings so beautifully in her song “Look up child”.

Over to you! Do you feel like God is challenging you to go beyond your limitations and change the status quo? What is holding you back? What is one thing you are going to do to even though it frightens you in response to God’s call?