YOU HAVE NOT PASSED THIS WAY BEFORE

Did you ever realize that God rarely ever tells His children the details of the future?

Image of dark bridge

In 1988 our family moved to Illinois so my husband could go to seminary. Homesickness conquered my heart. “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayers were not cutting it.  What kind of spiritual life sustains you in crisis? Afterall, weren’t we “doing God’s work”? At the time, I didn’t realize God would do whatever He wanted, regardless of our personal plans. We had given God permission to do bring pain into our lives.

THE SURPRISES

We experienced lots of surprises. The sale of our house was supposed to carry us through most of Bill’s education. The funds only lasted the first year. Our new home was in Zion, IL and it certainly was not the Zion associated with heaven. We had given away our church home, our close ties with family and friends, and the confidence we had from prior ministries. Pastor Bill now worked as Janitor Bill. Teacher Jacqui who had excelled at working with young children found herself way out of her league teaching middle school and high school students. Our two sons had to build an entirely new world of friends. Life was hard.

DANIEL PRAYED, NO MATTER WHAT

Did you ever realize that God rarely ever tells His children the details of the future? Daniel and his friends knew that God would eventually bring exiled their people back to Israel, but God neglected to tell them that lions, a furnace, and tests would abound. One thing that especially pops out when one reads the Book of Daniel – Daniel prayed, no matter what.

A PRAYER LIFE THAT GREW

The reward for my struggles, in 1988-1991 amidst all the pain, was a prayer life that exponentially expanded into rich and deep conversations with God.  There was nowhere else to turn.  I began, out of desperation, to really focus on my relationship with God.  5 AM marked the time when I commenced going for long walks in the dark, crying out to God and asking for His guidance.  I felt liked the Israelites when they had to trust God as they walked across the Jordan. God commented, “you have not passed this way before.” 

A TIME TO MOVE FORWARD

So, in all the pain you may currently be going through, are you consciously keeping your eyes on God with the expectation that He will direct you since “you have not passed this way before”?  This may involve life changes such as intentionally spending more time talking to God and less time complaining to others about what is happening.  More actions carried out with the courage and wisdom of Jesus and less behaviors determined by your fears.  This is not the time for cookie cutter prayers, this is the time to move forward, deeper into the Christ Who knows “you have not passed this way before.” 

LISTEN WITH AN UNDIVIDED HEART

Ruth Haley Barton in “Sacred Rhythms” writes: “As long as we continue to reduce prayer to occasional piety we keep running away from the mystery of God’s jealous love.” I wanted to run away from this painful love.  Barton continues: “let God’s creative love touch the most hidden places of your being and …to listen with attentive, undivided heart to the inner movement of the Spirit of Jesus, even when that Spirit was leads to places you would rather not go.”  In the dark at 5 AM I began to let God pry my fingers off those things I had previously treasured.  I began to beg God for what He wanted to transpire in my life, as hard and painful as it was.  The floor had been ripped out, the roof blown off. God wanted to build my life in a new closer way. 

I CAME TO THE CROSS

Barton continues: “We come to Him with empty hands and empty heart, having no agenda.  Half the time we don’t even know what we need; we just come with a sense of our own spiritual poverty.”  I just dumped all of it, every awful shaming moment of it all, and came to the cross with bended knee.  It was in the dark in Illinois that I learned to let God do whatever He wanted, no matter the future. I had “not passed this way before.” 

Author: Jacquelin Stoner

I have had years of walking alongside of individuals, encouraging those who want to change, but need help navigating to the better place God has envisioned for their lives. I believe Christ is central to genuine lasting life change.

Delight in helping women to discover wholeness in their "New Normal".