Have you ever felt as if everything was going opposite the Lord’s promises? Have you felt like throwing in the towel, wondering if you’ve missed it because nothing worthwhile seems to be happening anymore?
These are the times when our true motives and resolve are tested. What is truly in our hearts is brought to the surface and God wants to bring beauty out of the ashes.
What comes to the surface can lead to a valuable searching of our hearts. As the ministry where I lead worship experiences a challenging season, God has brought some motive-searching questions to mind:
- Are we doing this to exalt God who is worthy of worship or to grow in number?
- Will we pray and serve simply because we want His will to be done and His Son to be glorified?
The world’s standards for success are not to be the measuring line for the people of God. Our perceptions are often skewed by the world’s view of success, ideas which have even infiltrated the Church.
Yet God’s ways are far different from ours. The Body of Christ in our day must stand out from the world. One way we do this is by rejecting the world’s ways. The standard we follow originates in the words of Christ: we deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him (Matthew 16:24-26). The kind of success we are called to is loving Jesus and loving others as He does.
When it seems God is taking us into the wilderness of testing, we choose to press on. He is so worth it! Jesus Himself was tested in the wilderness. The devil tempted Him, but the Word says God’s Spirit led Him there (Luke 4:1-2). He too was tested to see whether He would do according to the Father’s will and not His own ability (even as God), or for His own wants and needs (such as for bread) rather than waiting on the Father’s provision.
In the wilderness and in the trials, God is forming and fashioning us like gold by His Spirit. He is pruning us. Through it all the Lord is encouraging us to persevere and continue investing in His Kingdom work.
Know this: Pruning does not come as if for punishment.We are pruned because we are actually producing good and lasting fruit for His Kingdom. As our leaders shared this week, that which is productive gets pruned. Jesus says the Father “cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit” (John 15:2b AMPC).
So we must ask ourselves:
- Will we continue to be faithful to Jesus when no one is looking or when we feel alone in our assignment?
- Will we give up or will we choose to persevere, even when our only testimony in the process seems to be simple obedience in this season?
- Is Jesus and our relationship with Him worth more to us–even if that is all we have in this season?
If we declare He is worth it and do not give up, we shall come forth like the gold–looking more like Him and shining with the radiance of His beauty in a dark world.
We can choose to continue in obedience to Him. We can choose to be steady in faithful commitment.
What do you choose, beloved? How will your story end, or—as God desires it to be—how will it continue into the next season He has planned?
Do not give up in the pruning of your productivity, in the schooling of your soul. Do not quit as you are being cleansed and fashioned into the image of Christ.
Keep on keeping on. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (emphasis added). Our expectation comes from Him alone and He alone is our glory and strength.
“My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense; I shall not be moved.
In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God.”
Psalm 62:5-7 (NKJV)
Choose Christ and don’t give up. Don’t settle for anything less. Do not lose heart, but take courage and trust Him. Press into knowing Him intimately, for this is eternal life (John 17:3). He is with you and He is calling you to persevere. Even in the times of testing, He is so worth it!