You’ve heard the expression, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Never was that more true than it is in a place of restriction in the life of a believer.
You have been uniquely crafted by the Father for a destiny with God that will exceed your wildest dreams. It’s not the sort of life pursuit that is measured in numbers, fans, fame or money but in the value you add to the kingdom of God.
We all have dreams. You have your dreams, I have mine and whether we know it or not at this moment, a dream lives in every one of our hearts that eventually will be awakened by God. It’s the sort of dream that maps to what God wants to do though you and only you. Some of these are big dreams. I truly believe that Christians will be sitting in high places in our culture like on the board of director’s for Sony Pictures, or as president of EMI Music, or even in the office of the presidency. But before we can do those things, God needs to know he can trust us with the little things. This is where life as a Christian is truly harder than anything else we will ever do in the world without God.
I’m often amused by those people who say that belief in God is a crutch for people who cannot navigate life on their own. Those who say such things do so in ignorance and probably never stayed in a marriage that, by all accounts was dead but was later completely restored. Nor did they have to wait while others were given the ministry that God promised them long before it was given to the more “charismatic,” but less anointed person. These are genuinely hard things to deal with. No doubt, dreams set expectations in us, but the timing of the dream, if we’re not careful, is what can corrode our minds with frustration, bitterness and pain.
It is during the time of restriction and waiting that God starts to craft the person we are becoming, and quite honestly, that he already sees in us. If we’re truly going to be led by our spirits then we must return, stay, or go when God gives us any of those directions. In other words, we must do what he says. For instance, I’m often approached by people telling me that they are thinking of leaving their church. I usually ask, “Why do you want to leave? What happened that brought you to that conclusion?” I listen intently and usually hear how things just aren’t working for that person. They usually explain in one way or another how they don’t feel valued or aren’t being promoted like they think they should be, and as result, feel led to go. Graham Cooke calls this “felt-led poisoning.” “I felt led to come and now I’m feeling led to go.” The key is the feeling part. We feel a certain way instead of hearing it and choosing to obey.
I understand that times can get tough. I’ve been hammered with several of my own. But we can’t leave every time were unhappy or frustrated or we will become spiritual nomads. Don’t get me wrong, there always times in the life of any believer when we all want to do that. In fact, I’ll go as far to say that I think God sets those times up in every believer’s life to test us. Will we stay in a situation to the point that it hurts? I believe God has something for us that only such situations could teach us. These are the times we find ourselves on the threshold of breakthrough, the sort of breakthrough that not only allows us to move beyond the state we’re in, but promises to be a ministry in and of itself. Hebrews 2:18 says “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Jesus received his breakthrough over temptations. You will receive breakthrough over yours as well. Your breakthrough might be a temptation to quit your church or to leave your marriage or give up on ministry because your church has overlooked you.
Breakthrough with God is not some sort of cheap badge we earn. Breakthrough is reserved only for those who truly put aside self interests and share in the sufferings of Christ for as long as it takes to achieve victory. Romans 5:3-4 says “Not only that, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope.”
We all want breakthrough but breakthrough does not come cheaply or by running away. And our pursuit is not with people where most of us often put our eyes, it’s with God. If we truly trust God, we usually can prove that by waiting. Otherwise, we all should fully understand that God will relentlessly test us again and again until we pass the test.
In each test that brings restriction of what we really want for ourselves, we must align ourselves with what God wants to do and wait till breakthrough comes. We must figure out what our role is in ushering what we see in the spirit into the natural. What we see in the Spirit might very well be what God intends to bring about in the natural, but for some reason, God hasn’t allowed it to come yet. This sort waiting is ultimately our source of pain.
Even in the midst of that pain, we must learn how to bridge the gaps between the natural and the spiritual and must listen for what God expects from us in each situation so that we do not miss in our suffering what God promises to provide in our breakthrough.