Lately I have been dealing with some things that have made every day seemingly harder than the last. Often times it can seem like, although we hear about hope and that good seasons exist, all we ever seem to experience is one trial after the next with very few and fleeting moments of joy. As a christian, I know that life on this earth is not supposed to be comfortable, but is it supposed to be miserable? I study the word of God every day so I know what it says about trials and sticking it out because of the glory that will be revealed at the end. I know what is says about the afflictions of the righteous being many, but God saves us out of each one. I am familiar with the crown of life that is to be attained when we have stood the test and persevered under trial, and that we really never experience anything that is not common to man. What happens when those truths no longer have the same affect on the spirit of a man as they used to?
At church last Sunday my pastor felt compelled to reveal to the congregation that he felt like God was going to show His people with tangible evidence that things were going to turn around for those of us that have been wandering through the desert for a while. Something that my heart desperately wanted to grab a hold of, but that I have heard so many times before with very little to show for it. Never the less I mustered up what faith I had left and pushed myself to believe that this message from the Lord did in fact apply to me. After all it spoke directly into what I was feeling and figured there had to have been some divine influence in what the Pastor prophesied. I mean it just hit so close to home.
On the drive home I had some words with the Lord. One of those talks where there is some declaring, some shouting, some tears, some repentance, and a healthy dose of doubt that loomed with a derisive smile over it all. I asked God to remember the tangible evidence thing. To not forget about me or leave me out of it.
When I got home I noticed online that one of the artists I follow released some new photoshop brushes for free. I always jump at the chance to download and play with new photoshop brushes. It's fun, relaxing, and although a finished painting seldom emerges from it , I still consider it time well spent. Looping in the back of my mind however was the conversation I had with the Lord on the drive home. It was impossible to shake. I began to feel so wishy washy and double minded when it came to God's goodness that it started to depress me and fill me with anxiety. So much so that I had to take frequent breaks from my brush exploration and step away to try and maybe do something else. I would go get something to eat or play some video games, but I just felt pulled back to the computer. Back to the chaotic mess of colors and shapes I had slapped indiscriminately on the canvas.
I noticed as time went on that a painting was starting to emerge here. As any artist will tell you, sometimes you start a painting knowing exactly what you're going to paint and other times you have no idea and the painting just takes a life of it's own. This was the latter, and it felt good. I felt like I was being guided instinctually rather than consciously using my artistic knowledge and "rules" to create. These brushes were awesome too! They kept everything so loose and messy. So alive...but again...I kept asking, "Lord, where is this tangible evidence you spoke of. Half the day is already gone and although I have been keeping my eyes and ears open, I have seen nothing!" "Have you forgotten me? Have you left me out of this blessing?"
Finally, after a few hours, this is what emerged from the chaos...
Sure this is not the best painting I've ever seen, or even that I've ever done, but it finally hit me what my God was doing. I felt like He spoke to me saying, "this is your evidence". Instantly my mind went to the verse in the book of Jeremiah:
"But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out it's roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NIV).
Behold the goodness of the Lord. Not only did He not leave me out of the tangible evidence thing, he made me very much a part of it. He revealed it to me through me. I also felt him revealing to me that just as my hands were moved by Him to create this evidence, so to will he work through me to turn things around. It will take work, but in the end, I will be like a tree planted by the water. I would have never thought this is how he would speak to me, but this is how He works. Faithful and consistent, but unpredictable. It just goes to show how faithful to His word and promises He is. How good and merciful of Him to show me that he didn't see me as a wishy washy, double minded, and weak christian, but this is how He sees me!
I know some may read this post and think this is all just a bunch of christian bull crap, and that is fine. It's not my job to convince you that God exists and loves you. I just hope that this testimony does help someone who may be trudging along through a season of perpetual wilderness to ask Him for some tangible evidence that you will come out of this, then expect that He will do it. It was never God's will to keep you there forever. For just as it is written in Jeremiah:
"For I know the plans I have for you, 'declares the Lord,' plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future". Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV).