Alanna Garden blog
At times God surprises us with illuminating truth that changes us forever. Like a lightening bolt from heaven, He gets our attention in a way that shows us what we could not see before.
Ever feel frustrated because you have "done" enough but haven't received:
*that raise at work (it's obvious you work harder than everyone else),
*another person's cooperation (look at all you've done for them),
*a new whatever (why does everyone else get this and I don't?)
*a break in life (why do I have to keep dealing with this?)
*relief from a difficult situation (I'm doing everything right and nothing ever changes)
*a specific blessing from God (look at all I'm giving up and doing for God and the thing I asked for hasn't happened yet!)
There might just be a sense of entitlement lurking in the shadows causing that frustration. "No, not me!" roar the readers. Hear me out - entitlement is someone's belief that he/she is deserving of some particular reward or benefit.
Is there a checklist in the heart that says "I've suffered (or sacrificed) __________________ and I deserve ___________________. Our culture tells us so. Don't you "deserve a break today"?
An entitlement attitude is self-focused and a joy killer. It robs us of the satisfaction that should be in our lives and we see the glass half empty. When we finally get what we think we deserve, our frustration is appeased and we feel vindicated but not blessed.
So, ask God if there is a sense of entitlement in your heart about something. If there is, He will whisper it in a still small voice with tender mercies that lead to repentance.
The truth will set you free - free to be grateful and live life with a healthy expectation that results in joy because of belief in the goodness of God and the blessings He has given us. (James 1:17)
Living in rural WV, gives one the opportunity to encounter wildlife on a regular basis. This morning, with coffee cup in hand and worship music in the background, I watched an interesting scene play out with a couple of whitetail deer and a stray cat.
A doe was grazing in the yard snacking on my weeping mulberry tree! She meandered through our big yard toward the creek for a drink. Suddenly she stopped at the edge of the clover patch planted by my neighbor several years ago. (I'm sure this neighbor is a hero in the animal kingdom and his good deed will be exalted in their oral history for years to come!)
Everything in the doe was standing at attention as she tried to determine what was in her salad bowl. She took a step forward and stomped her feet several times. A 5 lb cat hunkered down and glared at the 100 lb doe. This should not even be a contest.
The situation was complicated when Doe #2 came up over the creek bank. Now there were two does looking at the cat but the calico stood her ground. This was now her place to hunt for moles and mice.
Doe #2 decided she didn't like Doe #1 and chased her down the creek and came back to confront the cat. She snorted and stamped her feet at the edge of breakfast. The cat didn't move. Eventually, she walked across the road and into my yard and then back to the cat. The situation didn't change. The cat didn't move despite the obvious difference in size. She could have easily scampered up a tree but didn't. Doe #2 gave up and disappeared into the trees.
I pondered how easily two big does allowed themselves to be denied the rich blessing provided for them in that clover patch by one 5 lb cat that exhibited intimidating behavior. The cat didn't even move.
How many times does God provide a rich blessing for us and we let something intimidate us? Even though we might be chosen, prepared and hungry for what He offers we allow obstacles, even small ones, to stop us from moving forward to claim the prize!
In Numbers 13 we see an example of this when Moses sent 12 scouts to check out the land of Caanan. They reported it really was a land of "milk and honey" and produced incredible fruit - it took two men to carry one cluster of grapes!
But here is what they focused on in verses 31-33:
31 But the men that went up with him said, We are not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.
32 And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eats up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature.
33 And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.
Joshua and Caleb were the only two that returned wanting to follow through on God's instruction to take the land. They did not focus on the size of the giants but on the faithfulness of God.
I believe there are blessings God has in mind for us but we feel like grasshoppers in a land of giants when we are really a 100 lb deer up against a 5 lb cat. What is God offering us and what keeps us frozen in our tracks?
It might be:
The scouts saw themselves as grasshoppers. The deer in my yard were intimidated by a small intruder a fraction of their size.
Remember who you are in Christ - you are "more than a conqueror" and "...all things work together for good for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose". (Rom 8:28) If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, that is you, my friend.
If not, take a moment to say, "Jesus, I want you in my life. Take my heart and forgive me for all the wrong things I've done. I want you to be the Lord of my life and accept you as my Savior. I accept your sacrifice and believe you are the living God. Help me to learn to love you and know the purpose you have chosen for me."
If you prayed this prayer of salvation, your adventure has just begun. Learning to receive God's love is the beginning. Understanding your identity and purpose is an exciting part of the journey! I'd love to hear about it!
In the mean time, focus on the faithfulness of God and ask Him " What is the 5 lb cat keeping me from by blessing?"
The favor of God? Bring it on, right?! Who doesn't want the favor of God in their lives? We daydream about what the favor of God would look like - basically, all of our prayers being answered.
We'd really like a lot of those answered prayers lined up like crayons in a box, wouldn't we? Right where we can grab them and color our lives the way we want them to be. We are encouraged by scriptures such as Deut 28:2 "And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God"
"Sign me up!" we shout as we jump up and down like children before the throne of Father God, "Overtake me with those blessings!"
God loves us and probably enjoys blessing us more than we enjoy being blessed. Personally, I think He looks for opportunities for His favor to leak from the heavens and soak into our thirsty lives. Sometimes life is hard and His favor nurtures and renews us. He knows that.
He also knows how much we can take before our "stripes" start to unravel. (see photo) Our identity takes a hit and, if we aren't careful, our understanding of who we are in Christ begins to fall off our lives.
The reality is that extreme favor from God can cause unexpected changes that throw our lives off balance. We get so excited about the opportunities His favor brings we can hardly contain ourselves! What once kept us grounded gets downsized so we can accommodate what is happening. (Let me whisper this next sentence so God won't hear...) We really want to be in control of the "overtaking" that is upon us. It makes us feel safe and success should be a nice safe experience, shouldn't it?
It has been said that success is sometimes more difficult to navigate than a time of trials. During a time of "overtaking" favor it is important to remember love. Yes, love. What's love got to do with it? Everything.
In Luke 10:27 Jesus said "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ ; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself." This scripture creates a plumb line we can live our lives by. It creates an alignment that brings order and harmony.
Love brings us back into balance. We spend time with the people we love and spending time with God says "I love you" to Him. It also reminds us that He loved us first. Our heart responds to that truth when we draw near to the One who made us in His image. It is impossible to "hurry up" and love Him with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength and all your mind. Most of the time He won't respond to that approach and you'll feel as if your prayers are hitting the ceiling. It takes time. Slowing down and focusing on Him puts things in order and creates balance.
In our fast-paced culture the second part of the above scripture is more difficult to accomplish. Love my neighbor as myself - now, just try a "git 'er done" approach with that and see how far it gets you! Our "neighbors" don't feel loved when we are impatient, disrespectful, demanding, deceptive or self-focused (all side effects of a life out of balance). A loving relationship with anyone responds to the fruits of the spirit Gal 5:22-23 "... love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control..."
So...how much supernatural favor can you take before the "stripes" that identify you start to unravel? Depends on how much you operate by love.
Position and prepare yourself for supernatural favor. God will give you all you can take!
One of my favorite songs is "Potter's Hands" by Darlene Zschech and Hillsong. "I'm captured by your holy calling, set me apart, I know you're drawing me to yourself, Lead me, Lord, I pray...." 2 Tim 1:9.
"Captured" can mean to gain control of or exert influence over.
Hmmm, ...."captured by your holy calling"...does my busy life reflect that? Is the "holy calling" exerting the influence over life - or - are the details of trying to live out that "holy calling" exerting the influence?
It takes effort to live intentionally captured by the "holy calling.
Often the things we think we need to do for the "holy calling" cause us to lose sight of it. Many times we get caught up in the appointments, phone calls and tasks.
Beginning in I Kings 18:30 we see a few things Elijah did for his "holy calling" at Mt. Carmel. He built an alter, dug a trench around it, filled it with wood, cut up the sacrificial bull, laid it on the wood and acted as manager to make sure enough water was dumped on it to add some drama to what was about to happen. All the above was not his "holy calling". These things prepared for him to stand in his "holy calling.
After fire fell from heaven, in verse 37 we see Elijah in his holy calling of announcing the heart of God: "Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.” What a moment to live for!
But....then there was more work to do. He had to deal with the false prophets of Baal. Most of the time our "holy calling" is sandwiched in between the work or manifestations involved in the calling.
What things we are building, tearing down, maintaining or managing that influence us more than our "holy calling?" Most of the time the "holy calling" is spoken in that still small voice and not the wind, the earthquake or the fire.
Let's make sure we are intentionally captured by the holy calling and not the manifestations of that calling.