I had a very disheartening—and angering—conversation with someone I love very much the other day. This person has been a mentor of sorts over the years and I respect them very much. However, as of late, the advice I’ve received from them has proven good, not godly.
This particular conversation largely consisted of this well-meaning individual telling me that what I was doing wasn’t working and I needed to entertain other options—other options that for good and godly reasons had been removed from the table a long time ago. Needless to say I was hurt, offended, and angry.
And then I had an “aha moment.”
GOOD advice is not always GOD advice. Discern the difference.
What this person had been feeding me over the past few years was just an opinion, yet it was not beneficial to my personal situation and where I am in life.
The words this person used stung so painfully because 1) we’d been down this road before and because 2) I’m still tempted from time to time to take their original advice, despite the fact that I know it’s not what God would have me do.
As I’m sure you all know, you have those moments and seasons where nothing seems to be working; you feel barren and unproductive despite all your efforts and the knowledge of why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Enter this blogpost.
Questions to Ask Yourself
When you find yourself in a situation like this, you need to be very honest with yourself: revisit what God has told YOU—not your mama, not your daddy, not your friends, or anyone else but YOU. Contrary to what we incorrectly preach today in Church, God does not always confirm His word to you through other people’s approval. In fact, it’s often quite the opposite. So here are a few thoughts for you to keep in mind.
One-Level vs. Multi-Level Structure
What are you building?? Is it a single-level or a multi-level structure? Is what you’re doing based on a fad or other short-term endeavor or does it have the longevity to reach far into the future?
I was recently listening to an excellent sermon series by Bishop Tudor Bismark entitled “Eliminating Poverty” in which he often referred to his early days in marriage and ministry. He and his wife, ChiChi, had nothing when they were married and next to nothing shortly thereafter. He describes how they used bed sheets to cover their windows because they couldn’t afford curtains, purchased their sons first beds in a garage sale for ten Zimbabwean dollars each, and even some of their parishioners made fun of them because they had no chairs and ate their dinner sitting on their stairs.
The people looking down on them were also newly weds filling their houses with store-bought furnishings and the latest in home décor, but there was one distinction between the Tudors and “the Jones”—while the Jones were renting their house, the Bismarks owned theirs. The Bismarks understood the importance of ownership and the longevity it would bring while the other people, years later, are still renting at astronomical rates, living in homes furnished with “the same old furniture” as when they first got married!
The taller the structure you build, the deeper the foundation must be. While you may feel barren because you’re temporarily broke or frustrated because you can’t see even the sprouts of the seeds you’ve planted, harvest timealways comes.
Faith vs. Cray-Cray
You must examine whether you are truly acting in faith or being just plain “cray-cray” (crazy, insane, etc.). A lot of these people running around “naming and claiming” things, cherry-picking Scriptures are flat out cray-cray. While others are “suffering for the glory”—not just the glory of God, but glory that comes with seeing “the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
You can tell the faith-filled from the cray-cray by one distinct criterion—their adherence (or lack thereof) to the Word of God. If you left your spouse to “pursue your dreams,” are mishandling your finances and not tithing, living a dishonest life, or other ungodly actions, God is most certainly NOT going to bless your mess! True repentance is in order for you to reap the benefits of God’s hand (provision).
However, if you are living a godly lifestyle and doing all you know to do, chances are, you are right where you need to be—in the perfect will of God. And when the time is right, you will bear the fruit of your perseverance.
The Glory Factor
Many times in the Scripture, we encounter a few women who were barren: Sarah, the mother of Isaac; Manoah’s wife, the mother of Sampson; Hannah, the mother of the Prophet Samuel; and Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. Now, in an archaic society where barrenness was seen (and rightfully so) as a curse, I’m sure life was very humiliating for these women—especially for Sarah and Hannah whose husbands had other wives who were baby-making machines. Yet there is one powerful similarity that all of these women share—they were barren for a purpose. And while that purpose varied from situation, the ultimate end of that purpose was to bring God the maximum amount of glory!
Had the circumstances of these various women been lessened and shortened, the situation would have seemed to be solved by natural means. Maybe it’s your location like Sarah, the level of adversity like Hannah, or the divine time of deliverance like with Manoah’s wife and Elizabeth, these women—contrary to society’s opinion of them—brought forth children exactly when they were supposed to.
Some months ago, I was very frustrated about the timing of a situation asking (demanding really) God why it hadn’t happened already and this was His response:
Little time, little glory; long time, greater glory.
Despite the looks of barrenness, if you are truly in the will of God, and truly building something of worth with staying power, then you will reap a great harvest! Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your business, book, ministry, or family. “Keep on keepin’ on,” stay positive, and God will absolutely bless your endeavors and in the end!
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9)
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