I wish I had been more coherent for the Voice of the Apostles conference which I just attended in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Long flights, drives and days, along with six thousand souls packed into an auditorium, contributed to the event being a little too much for my body and brain.
Although I was extremely fatigued and sleep-deprived throughout most of the conference, I've yet decided that the jetlag, tiredness, back pain, and now-the "aftermath head cold"- have been worth it. Because not only did I witness over a thousand miracle healings at this amazing conference, but God dissolved a chunk of long-standing despair in my soul, which had been leaning a little too long towards the lies of this world.
I need to attend events like this once in a while, so that I can be reminded of who God is for me and what He intends for my life. I think we all do, because life has a way of pulling us away from God's truths and into our navels.
I don't have the stamina tonight to put into words all that inspired me at VOA, although in the days to come I may post more about the conference and the rich tidbits of wisdom that I acquired from it. For now, I want to share one vital truth which encouraged me, in the hopes that it will encourage you, too.
God has a great plan for all of our lives, yet we sometimes miss it because we forget that great projects, works and relationships start out as little seeds of promise. God doesn't give us immense oak trees right away, but many of us, in our anxious desire to see the seeds that He has given us become trees, drop those seeds without watering them.
Pastor Bill Johnson, one of the speakers at VOA, noted that we must steward the seeds that God has given us, if we want to see those seeds become trees. That means being willing to step out in faith in the small things and obey what He asks us to do, so that the promises He has given us: in Scripture, through prophecy and in our personal time with Him, get fulfilled.
Great projects, prosperous relationships, and even miraculous healings, are the result of taking tiny steps of obedience towards a larger goal. And this is usually the way that God's amazing plans for us manifest. Through baby steps.
Yet these steps aren't the result of anxious striving and fighting to believe God for the fulfillment of His promises. They come from faith, which is birthed, as Bill Johnson mentioned, out of rest and surrender. When we fight, we lose. When we spend time with the One who loves us eternally and unconditionally, and live out of His presence, faith is the byproduct. Obedience results from faith, and from obedience comes the manifestation of God's plan for our lives.
Rodney Hogue, another pastor at VOA, noted that when we bypass the process of being children before God (by not doing anything for Him, but simply receiving from Him) our obedience towards Him becomes performance-oriented. When we attempt to fulfill our dreams out of a performance-oriented mindset, we get burned out, tired and fail to receive all that God has for us.
Self-effort cannot accomplish God's plan for our lives. We may achieve great things and be able to help many people, but our lives will yet be inferior products of performance, rather than a powerful manifestation of His Spirit working through us.
Nobody lives within the realm of the Spirit all of the time. We are busy. We forget that God is good, and our natural tendency is to "do life" through our own efforts. Especially if, as children, we were taught that we have to take care of ourselves, because nobody else will.
Yet if we know that God can and will manifest His marvelous plan for our lives, and that we don't have to do anything except choose to abide in Him, obedience doesn't have to be a burden. Life doesn't have to be so hard. We don't have to worry about having all the right ideas. We don't have to fear not having the physical or mental energy to survive. We don't have to strive and push and fight to make our dreams come true.
We just have to spend time with our Daddy, and choose to believe what He tells us in the quiet space of our thoughts, as we step out in obedience. Because if we are faithful in the little things, He will put us in charge of bigger things, and fulfill every desire of our hearts. It doesn't come from striving. It comes from being with, knowing, and abiding in Him.