I have been watching and re-watching some recordings I have from the recent Hillsong Conference. Maybe y'all know the love I have for Steven Furtick. It's big. He preached a message at the conference called "Don't Stop on Six" about Joshua and the wall of Jericho. (Can we just all agree that he has preached the crap out of the story? In a good way.) I teared up as he looked into the camera and said "God gave me an assignment today to help somebody who is about to stop short of something that God promised to you." He goes on to say that it's very easy to be impressed by people who have the faith to start "stuff". You applaud that. But, the really impressive part is when somebody has the fortitude to finish it. He gives this verse:
You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10:36
Maybe I should preface this by saying that I am not giving up, on anything, but I do want to talk about the ordinary in-between, the messy middle, because that seems to be where I have been spending most of my time these days. If I'm being honest, and I usually try to be, I've been a bit burned out lately. Frustrated and confused. I've questioned decisions, struggled with the next steps, I've stressed about finances (mine and No.41's), and the list goes on. Ultimately, I've lost some faith. I have forgotten God's promises, ignored His goodness, shunned His grace, and overlooked His provision. Sometimes, for me, it's too easy to get swept away by all the 'what ifs' while failing to remember that 'He did'.
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33 (emphasis mine)
The messy middle can be tough because I've been walking this road for a while now, and those twists and turns on the front end weren't as bad because I wasn't so tired and the stakes weren't so high, but they just keep coming and progress isn't always obvious. Haven't we been up this hill before? We all know that adversity is what all great stories hinge on, and the absence of adversity usually means the absence of progress. It's in the trials that you realize (if you're me, for the eighty-four thousandth time) that you can't do this on your own. You have to lean in and you have to have faith. Sometimes (most times!) the greatest battle isn't the one that God wants to win for us, but the one that He want to win in us.
All good things take time, but in a world that is so focused on big changes and quick results and now, now, now, the ordinary in-between often gets a bad wrap. "Keep it moving, folks. There is nothing to see here." Sure, mountain top moments are fun but, the reality is, we will spend most of our lives on the pathways, on the long journeys preparing us for the next major achievement. Building faith and developing perseverance. It's hard and stupid and mundane and, oh, so necessary. We may not understand what God is doing in the messy middle, but we can have peace because He is still working and His promise still stands. He promised.
And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6
Happy Monday, friends! Thanks for sitting in on my pep talk. :)