There is a strong longing in the heart of most persons to succeed. That’s a given. By “succeed” I mean a desire to be accomplished in life so that others might reckon with such status attained. You hear severally from the lips of men how they hope not to die a commoner but to leave their marks in the history of humanity, and claim fame for their legacies. This leads to all manner of pursuit. We set targets for ourselves, compete with our imagination of others, and are pushed constantly by the perception of the external environment.
These false projections in the world are further complicated by our perception of time and its effect on desire. Many feel a sense of urgency as age furthers, so as to avoid a loss of motivation and energy to chase their dreams later. To be 40 years without owning a home, a car, stable income, proper savings, or a family is generally seen as unacceptable in society.
All these seething within a person’s mind and baked by the environment of extreme materialism, is a soul-numbing combination that really hinders the true development of sound character required for a qualitative life.
This is the context of the heart with which many come to Father God. Actually, many find Father in the spaces between need and wants, where what dominates the heart is the desire for things – healing, work, family, food, house, prosperity, education, etc. While the love of the Father will almost always take care of such desires with time, He certainly moves past the things that we want to challenge our notion of where the true value of life lies.
These kinds of persons (and we are very many) desire to live a linear relationship with Father. They want to dance between the extremes of the prayer and the product. They want to pray and immediately receive the answers to prayers. So they delight in prayer because they hope for the answer to be favourable within the timeframe they have set for Father to respond. Surely, these two sides are contained in our walk with Him. He is the One who initiates prayer, and the same One who answers the desires of our heart. The scripture says that “All eyes look unto Him and He gives them meat in due season” (Psalm 104:27-30). He is the One who delights in prayer, as well as in answering them.
However, from the enduring testimonies of God’s children and personal experiences our Father is mostly to be found and felt in the space between prayers and answers. It is in that region that His character is mostly revealed and His ways are expressly stated. The journey spanning desire expressed in prayers and testimonies in answer to those prayers is where we find His strongest revelations of His Person and the manifestation of His Presence, which transforms us through. It is in those moments where time stands still under the breath of expectation, or space shrinks to accommodate the intensity of hope, that one finds the serial attempt by Father to befriend us in deeper ways and improve our perspective of here and eternity.
Every time I read the passage of scripture in Deuteronomy 8:2 that says – “Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands”, I am reminded that He is the Lord of the process. It was in this wilderness experience that the Children of Israel got to know who God really is. In Egypt they only saw Him as the deliverer because he set them free with a mighty hand and great signs.
In the wilderness they saw Him being a way-maker, a provider, a sustainer, a healer, one with emotions, etc. It was the journey through the process that revealed this to the Israelites and they composed songs, poems, and letters to document this. Could Father have transported them instantly into the promised land? There is no contention about that. He however chose to pass them through the process and like it says in verse 3 of the same passage above – “to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”
Now the conclusion of the above paragraph is the substance of the process. This is the weighty matter that gathers under the burden of questions about the certain of God’s answers. Will I get healed? Will I receive this breakthrough? Will I ever get married or have children of my own? Will this persecution ever stop? Will I be successful in life? These clutter of thoughts and emotions usually underlie the quality of our walk with Father. The more desperate we feel about our condition, the more intense our ‘spiritual’ activity becomes. In the midst of all these concerns, Father seeks to (like a song writer aptly captures it) “breathe through the heats of our desires”. He interrupts our lives, places a rock of offence, introduces a major twist to our story, and initiates deep conversations in our hearts about what really matters in the pursuits of life.
Here is what I want to say: Don’t forsake that place of the process. Your breakthrough doesn’t give Father as much pleasure as who you have become while waiting for your testimony. It is the process that shapes and qualifies character. It is character that eventually determines how much of Father you represent and communicate to the world. Character is the proving of “what was in your heart”, and it is only in the process of the wilderness or sometimes fiery trial that required character is built. Like Bill Johnson says – “Character is the place where power wants to rest on. Then it can be carried and not destroy.”
Most of us only know about the 3.5 years of Jesus’ ministry. Not much is said about the 30 years prior to His public performances and declarations. In those years he worked, made friends, dealt with the issues of life, saw terrible things happen around Him, lost His earthly dad, stepped in as the man of the house being the first-born son, witnessed oppression of His people by Romans, etc. All through this His Heavenly Father was building Him up and ultimately said of Him – “This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased”.
Not only that, but Father was delighted to give Him His Holy Spirit “without measure”. Now that is profound! The context of that passage even furthers the show of confidence Father had in His Son – “For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand” (John 3:34-35). Because of who Jesus had become, Father also gave all things into His hand. Now that’s a show of extreme confidence because Jesus went through the process even to the giving of Himself as a ransom and dying as a result. Jesus had gone through the process, therefore He would open not His mouth even when He was led as a Lamb to the slaughter for an offence He didn’t commit. He would then go and pray His Father to “…forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Character through process!
The Father has no qualms giving you things, but He wants your attention first. An accurate revelation of Father is the most important achievement of any human, and the highest and most fulfilling need of men. That is what Jesus came to do, to reveal who Father is, and we must constantly read and understand Jesus in that context. For us, everything culminates in Jesus because He is the express representation of Father to men, and expressed the quality of that connection with the finality of this statement – “yet not my will, but yours be done.”
I counsel you to enjoy your wilderness experience and not seek its end by any means possible. A hard advice I know since I do not understand your prevailing circumstance. But I say, if you carefully and deliberately seek Father in the midst of the crisis or trial you face, seek for fellowship and friendship, seek for conversation in the middle of the storm, you will be totally amazed by how easy you can be distracted away from your troubles in the presence of His greatness. Nothing but Him matters when you’re in the wilderness. Money can’t buy, power can’t secure, and influence can guarantee. The children of Israel came out with much wealth from Egypt, but none of that could buy them food, shelter, or clothing in the wilderness. Only God could take care of them.
This is the place of the process in the hearts of men. That is where Father God gets His pleasure and enjoys His walk and fellowship with us. And like that great Apostle said – “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4). On the other side of the process, which is the answer to your prayers, you will realise that nothing else holds more value to you than your fellowship with Father.