My grandma gave me a beautifully embroidered towel when I got married. Next to a butterfly, it has the word “Believe” on it. Another friend gave me beautiful wall art that says, “Dream until your dreams come true.”
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Luke 1:45 (NIV) says, “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!”
You couldn’t have convinced me that this statement would ever be true, but at times in the trenches of married life with young children, I forget how much I wanted this life. How much I believed God would give it to me. I believed even though I occasionally doubted my ability to hear God’s voice.
Sometimes I wondered if it was possible that I was a little crazy. Did God really say??? Or have I made this stuff up and will end up looking like a fool? But now, despite the struggles with the daily care and feeding of a family, I’m living the promise.
Looking at the Psalms, I see that David consistently begs God not to make him look like a fool, not to allow him to be ashamed for his belief. Psalm 25:2 is a great example of his prayer: “Oh my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies triumph over me.” And God made sure David, the greatest king Israel ever had, was not ashamed.
Psalm 130 (AMPC) says, “Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is [deepest] within me, bless His holy name!… Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy; who satisfies your mouth with good so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle’s [strong, overcoming, soaring]!… Bless the Lord, oh my soul!”
The benefits of serving the Lord are that He dignifies us, rather than shaming us. He satisfies our desires and gives us the energy to enjoy them at the time when they are appropriate.
Hebrews 11 is a soaring list of those who had faith that God would do what He said He would do. It isn’t a list of perfect people, but of those who chose to believe and received their reward.
When God speaks to our hearts, it’s easy to dismiss His voice as our own strange ideas. It’s easy to think we’ve allowed our imagination to run amok again. How could God expect us to defy our own logic to be obedient to Him?
There have been times in my life when I believed God said something to me that did not pan out. Every time I’ve believed, I’ve not been rewarded with the outcome I expected. I recall one particularly embarrassing point in which I believed God called me to marry a man who turned out to be a fraud – immoral, unreliable, and deceptive. Hmmm… that may actually be more than once? Sigh… It can be hard to know the difference between our own desires (which can make us vulnerable and weak) and the mighty voice of God.
But God knew my heart. He knew why I wanted to believe my ideas were from Him. He knew I wanted to do the right thing but was inexperienced and naive, and I was eventually rewarded. Today I’m married to a moral, reliable, honest man who loves God with all his heart. He’s not flashy or the “big deal” kind of a man I’d always been attracted to, but even better: he is the REAL deal. And he’s become a very big deal to three people who adore him.
God knew my heart and kept me from going after a lie. I believed incorrectly, but I was protected from myself. That incorrect belief was a very humbling experience. Since then, I’m very cautious about what I call “God’s leading.” But when my God does lead, it is a powerful and beautiful thing, often far beyond my own ideas or considerations.
In Luke 1:45, Elisabeth speaks prophetically to Mary. She encourages this frightened and excited, unmarried teenage girl, sharing the revelation God has given her about the life in her womb. Mary was visited by an angel – oh, to have that blessing – but she had to make a choice to believe the words that didn’t make sense to her. She knew there was no way she could have a child within her, but when the angel told her what would happen, she conceded. She didn’t argue or protest. She didn’t tell the angel her parents and betrothed would be horrified. She simply accepted the awkward blessing and trusted that God would work the rest of it out.
I like the idea of Mary, concerned for what’s to come but also excited. I think that’s how I’ve felt in the past when God has spoken to me. I’ve felt shocked, but with an undeniable twinge of wonder and excitement.
Don’t be afraid to believe the Lord. Don’t be afraid to trust in His goodness toward you. Even if you believe incorrectly (and aren’t wallowing in unrepentant sin), God will see your heart and guide you. Fix your eyes on Him, ignore the wind and the waves, and you will be rewarded.
In recent years, God has spoken to me a few times about my future. I’ve tried to take the posture of Mary – obedient even when I don’t understand, trusting God to work out the things that seem to be problematic, pondering the idea quietly and seeking godly counsel from those I trust. God spoke to me specifically about marrying Rick, a moment with Him that I treasure. But there was once a situation where what God said to me didn’t work out, despite my best efforts to walk obediently into His calling.
I humbled myself and moved forward into something I didn’t understand, accepting that God knew better than me and would take care of the details. When I found out that it wasn’t going to work out, I was devastated. I mourned for a day because I had so thoroughly believed something that wasn’t of God. It caused me to question many things I’ve built my life on because I was sure I’d heard God’s voice. What if it was just coincidence and I had made a big mess of things? What if I’d brought dishonor to God?
As the sun set that day, God’s voice broke powerfully into my spirit, commanding me to “Get up and get a pen!” I obeyed, feeling ridiculous. But as I began to write the words that were bursting into my heart, my pen formed words that I knew must be from God. His voice was powerful and assuring, that He had indeed spoken to me and He was pleased with my obedience into the face of something I didn’t understand.
God had provided an opportunity for healing and restoration to come to His people and they rejected the gift. I felt rejected, but God was the one who was rejected. The Holy Spirit is gentle and offers gifts, not forcing them on anyone. When the gift is rejected by one, God will offer it to another. There’s no shame for the one who bears the gift in obedience to God. The one who rejects the Holy Spirit will find their soul dry and lacking comfort. God is saddened when His Spirit is rejected, but not deterred.
Remember the conversation Mordecai had with his niece Esther? He told her that it was possible God had made her queen for this exact time, and if she failed to do her part God would raise up another redeemer for Israel. But at what cost to her for neglecting the job God had given her? (Esther 4) When humans do not follow the plan of God, God finds another way to accomplish His will.
In the face of that disappointment, my resolve to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in all circumstances remained unchanged. I chose to forgive and prayed that God would set free the hearts of those who had made the decision. I became excited about whatever God had for me next. He’s a good, good Father, and He gives good gifts. He blesses those who believe His word. He does not allow them to be ashamed, but dignifies them.
Learning to hear the voice of God isn’t something that’s come easy to me, and in truth we won’t know with total certainty what was God’s leading until we are able to see Him face to face. But as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling, let us go forward boldly, knowing that God sees our hearts, rewards those who desire to please Him, and is perfectly capable of making a way where there seems to be no way.
What are you believing God to do for you today?