5 November 2005. I had been living in London all of 70 something days and I was at a “Hillsong Women” event or as we know it now, The Sisterhood. It would be the first time I met Christine Caine and the first of many times God used her to punch me straight in the face.
She spoke on “and you will”…those moments between Asking and Receiving.
“Ask, and it shall be given you…” Matthew 7:7
I remember distinctly how she spoke about being prepared and ready for what God was going to give you, the direction he was sending you. She eloquently illustrated it by comparing these in between seasons with having a child. If the baby arrives too early then there are often problems because the child isn’t developed enough to leave the protection of the mama. Similarly, if you are baking a cake, if you take it out too early it’s not baked and you could get sick from the raw egg. When things come too early we aren’t ready.
There have been more than one of these in between seasons for me in recent years. Looking back, it’s perhaps my rush of the in-between that has led to needing to redo those seasons more than once. Either way, I learned six fundamental lessons that haven’t only helped me through this season, but grew my faith and made me better.
- You need to shut up and listen: if you’re anything like me you try and figure out what is going on. You talk to a million people, read, talk some more, try to sort it out in your head. When I stopped, and in this particular season, took a literal break from reality and went to Greece on 22 hours notice, it allowed God to be able to speak to me. I stopped talking and God began to pour out His love and encouragement over my life. When we quiet ourselves God can speak directly to us, or through others to show us what He is doing.
- Rest: I am not good at this one and sometimes I feel like God forces me into it. Probably a bit like a parent who makes their slightly fevered child stay in bed all day, even when the child feels “okay”, our Father knows our health levels. When we are in the between, don’t always try and rush it, rest because He knows how “well” we need to be for our next step.
- Keep on, keeping on: It’s easy in the in between to forget the rest. For example, when waiting for a new job, we may get so caught up in it that we forget our other goals, like working out regularly. Or perhaps you’re waiting for the love of your life to come along, but in the meantime you’re not cultivating other relationships or using your single status to serve others. We are, whatever the next step is, the most attractive when we are busy being us, fabulously. So, keep on, keeping on, you’ll attract the next best thing.
- Ask, ask and ask some more: No, I am not saying beg God for that job, that boyfriend, that raise. I am saying ask God what He is trying to teach you in this season. A few months ago I was in a similar situation and God came through fast. This time, when I am again, deciding on my next steps I asked God why the other didn’t work out. Expecting something different I only heard this “Michelle, you kept asking for a job when I wanted to give you a life.” Right, schooled by the big guy upstairs. God has taught me so much in the last few weeks, but only because I sucked it up and asked for a performance review 😉
- Silence the Voices: These are not the voices in your head. We have already addressed this. These are the voices of EVERYONE ELSE. Seriously, I always want to ask everyone else what they’re thinking about my life decisions. It’s this utterly ridiculous need for affirmation I am working on…but really, don’t we all do it? It’s like “hey guys, when you text a girl you’re not just texting her…you’re texting at least 3 of her friends too”. We love getting opinions of others. I wrote about this a while ago, but when we are on our journey, and God is working on us in the process, we can so easily get off the path or be distracted by what others believe we are going through. Be wise, stop and like some great fashion editors say “before you go out of the house, take off one accessory”. Before we go getting everyone’s advice, step back and ask if it’s just too much.
- Find Your Faith: Okay, so I just said get rid of all the voices…except when it comes to building faith. Wherever you are in your “in between” times can get tough and we can lose our faith. I was so encouraged this past summer, when my Swedish mom said one small thing to me “when you don’t have faith, I will have faith for you.”It was like a weight, lifted off my shoulders. Sometimes we need some people around us who will have faith for us, sometimes we will be that for others. This isn’t about advice or opinions. This is about allowing others, who love and truly care for us, to be our faith, to point us in the right direction, to be our fuel.
I like to reflect on the Amplified version of the verse as I think about my current season: Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives, and he who keeps on seeking finds, and to him who keeps on knocking, it will be opened.
Keep going…He always takes you through.