I have prayed for people in some difficult situations lately. I’ve talked with people who are struggling with significant changes in their lives that leave them wondering, ‘What now? Did I do something wrong?’ Life suddenly threw them a curve ball; something unexpected sent them spinning, wide-eyed, into what felt like a dusty, dry, desert season.
We all go through times like this. Our comfortable routine is disrupted and we are no longer sure what God expects of us. Our blessings seem to dry up overnight. Ministry ceases. A marriage fails. A company lets us go. “What am I supposed to do now?” we ask. “Is God upset with me?” Like Jesus, we seem to have left the cool waters of baptismal glory and wandered smack into the middle of the wilderness - alone.
The odd thing was, every time I prayed for someone in this kind of a situation, I saw a vision. The third time this happened, I realized God was revealing a strategy He has for all of us.
In the vision, I saw a soldier sitting alone in the barracks. He had obviously come back from his tour of duty and had some leave time. Head down, he was bent over his weapon: cleaning, polishing, checking each component, and reassembling it. He was focused; preparing.
He was not worried that he was no longer on the battlefield. He knew that leave time was just as important as battle time. If his weapon was not ready or his uniform was not up to snuff, things could go wrong when he went back out to battle. The downtime was for healing, training, preparing, and reordering – so that he could go back out again, stronger than ever.
Simple vision, powerful message. Here’s what I’m sharing with the people I minister to.
Instead of complaining or questioning God when we are relieved of certain assignments, we need to see changes – no matter how they come - as part of God’s overall plan for our spiritual progress. Life changes, with their uncomfortable feelings of transition and uncertainty, do not mean that God has abandoned us or decided we are no longer useful to Him! They bring a leave time. Either our last assignment has been completed or our previous situation is no longer good for us as we move forward.
When we feel purposeless or in transition somehow, it’s more important than ever to stay spiritually “sharp.” Now is not the time to complain or throw a pity party. It’s definitely not the time to go AWOL!
On the contrary, it’s important to stay in training. Is our spiritual sword in need of sharpening? We should return to studying the Word until wielding it is second nature. Have we run out of ammo? It’s time to restock, reconnect with others who fill us up instead of draining us. Has someone offended us and sent us crawling, broken, into depression’s foxhole? Time to rest, forgive, and heal so that the wounds won’t slow us down.
I believe an intense focus on the Lord and His Word is the best strategy for our downtimes. When life throws us a curve, it often reveals a weakness that needs attention. Our times of rest, training and redirection are as necessary as our times of warfare or productivity. All are part of our Commander-in-Chief’s offensive strategy.
In short, when things go wrong, the enemy hopes to convince you that God has put you on the shelf. So when your circumstances send you back to the barracks, remember that your goal is always to return to the field. God still needs you. But He will wait for you to sharpen your sword and heal before He commissions you again. You’ll have new marching orders and new determination. And when you go out, just like Jesus emerging from His wilderness, you will shout to your enemy, “It is written! It is written! It is written!” And every stroke of your two-edged sword will deal punishing blows to the devil. This is the honor given to all of God’s saints.
Scriptures for study: Luke 4; Psalm 140; Psalm 92:13-15; Psalm 23.
c. Deborah Perkins / His Inscriptions
Deborah Perkins is passionate about connecting people with God. She writes about knowing God's Word and hearing His voice at His Inscriptions. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest for more!
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.