For the last year, ministry has seemed like walking in circles in the dry wilderness. We've prayed. Fasted. Given. Obeyed.
Many times I have felt parched and withered, knowing my encouragement has to come from the Lord, but longing for the showers of blessing of answered prayer.
I just didn't understand what was going on. When you pour your heart out to the Lord over and over and nothing happens. You wonder if your prayers are just bouncing off the ceiling.
We've had lots of personal answers to prayer regarding our family and things like that, but not very many for our church. And about a month ago I felt burdened like never before. Church members were discouraged. We were discouraged.
Over the last year many members have fallen away. The famous "the Lord is leading us on" line is heard way too often as people we love give place to sin and never darken a church door again. It wasn't the Lord leading them there.
And it hurts. We hurt. We watch their lives fall to pieces and we can't be there to help gather because they don't. even. see it.
About a month ago I wrote this post about how to help others in a crisis. We were grieving the loss of a dear church member, whose children and grandchildren are also faithful members. They lost their patriarch and we all an older, wiser, godly man who was like a pillar to so many.
Then one week later, it was like the heavens opened and the clouds parted. The showers of blessings, the answered prayer that we had been hoping and struggling to expect, came.
It's been more like a flood, really.
Three weeks ago on a Wednesday night, a young mother and her children showed up at church. During the service she came back to the nursery and while holding her crying baby and watching the television screen with my husband preaching on it, she suddenly says to me, "I know what my problem is. I need to be saved!"
This young mom was gloriously saved, right there, in the nursery and the change in her life has been amazing. Never in my life have I seen someone "get it" like she has. It's truly been incredible.
And then she got baptized the next Sunday. And brought with her a slew of family members. Her brother got saved in that service and several of her family members got right with the Lord. The brother was baptized the next Sunday and more people came.
These people have been faithful and "growing like weeds." Their hunger and drive to do right and obey the Lord would put most Christians and even Bible college students to shame. Overwhelmed and bubbling with joy that God would love them, and motivated by that love, their lives are changing at breakneck speed. They tell everyone, asking for tracts, booklets, anything to give out to friends and neighbors. Their excitement is contagious!
Yesterday morning a teenage girl came to Christ. A teen girl that had NEVER been to church in her life and only wanted to come because she thought churches had communion every Sunday and she thought she'd get to taste wine before being old enough. And even while wrongly motivated to visit a church, the Lord used it all to bring her to Himself.
We've had to completely rearrange all the Sunday School Rooms, Nursery and Children's Church. In three weeks we outgrew all of it. Every chair is full. I seriously don't know what we're going to do next week in the Ladies' Sunday School class because we can't fit another chair in that room!
But all this leads to the question of why.
Why so long, Lord? Why when all we've wanted to do is serve in such a way that would bring glory to You?
And through it all I feel that Lord has hammered in my heart this matter of faithfulness.
When the going gets tough and people tire of the going, well, quitting is easy. Church members do it all the time. Pastors, too. The average tenure of a pastor is just 4 years.
Things don't go as easily or quickly or wonderfully as they illusion that they would and so they quit. They move on to greener pastures. Usually only to find that this field really wasn't any greener than the last.
And it's not just "Faithfulness", but "Faith-fullness."
I can be such a "doubting Thomas." Truly. I tend to be a pessimist. When instead I need to be full of faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
Faith-fullness...being expectant. Praying and expecting, having faith that the Lord will do what He says He'll do, when He knows it's best to do it. Faith and submission go hand in hand, we expect and have faith, and yet submit to God's perfect timing.
Friend, I don't know what you're going through today. I don't know what you've been praying and waiting for in your life.
It's hard. I know.
But don't quit. Being faithful and faith-full, both are requirements of God's servants.
When the heavens feel like brass, keep praying. Keep on keeping on. Stay faithful and expect great things from God.
And in God's time you'll feel those precious reviving and refreshing blessing drops. And who knows, maybe you'll experience a flood, too.