We each face different seasons as we walk this life with Jesus and they are certainly not always as you expect them. Struggles, trials, transitions and dark times can cause us to call out to God for guidance, clarity and wisdom.
As I write this piece I am right in the thick of a transition. I don't have all the answers to the questions I'm asking.
Did I get it wrong?
Did I hear correctly?
Was it just me that I heard?
These are the questions running through my head. Each day I wake I'm challenged to face another day with thankfulness or regret. Unfortunately lately it has been the latter as I constantly question myself, not daring to believe in the promise God put in my heart.
At these crossroads is where our faith in God really is tested. When we feel down it seems like there is a fork in the road, one way pointing to: 'just believe', the other pointing to 'believe?'
These moments sometimes lead young Christians to walk away from the faith, however, as the years go on and maturity in Christ grows, perspective shifts. You begin to realise that you wouldn't have continued down the road of belief if God wasn't so faithful. You begin to realise God is just as present in the down times as He is in the upâmaybe more so.
It's in these times you might recall little gems of wisdom to enable you to keep walking. For me, one of these is a quote from Baptist missionary legend William Carey who pioneered mission in India when no one thought he was able, it's the quote inspiring the title of this piece:
'Attempt great things for God, expect great things from God, and plod'
My wife and I certainly can identify with this as we have journeyed to follow the Lord in our missionary endeavours. I write this from a place where my wife and I have attempted great things for God, we have expected great things from Him and now we are in a place where we are just plodding along.
In the first two phases things are exciting, adventurous and new. God is planting His promises within you and you believe the words spoken into your heart are possible and will come to fruition.
Then there's the third phase: plodding. In this time we have to learn to just keep walking down His path one step at a time.
This plodding stage of my life has looked very different than what I expected. For me, plodding has meant giving up my expectations of what God's promises in my life would look like. It has meant coming to a place of surrender about the prophecy spoken over meâmy art dream and the vision of raising up a wave of people in the area of creative worship.
A place of surrender
As I go through my daily life I have found myself becoming more open and flexible to the path I once thought I was going to walk. It has involved me painting houses instead of canvases, sanding, running corporate events and doing whatever I have needed to do.
I would love to say I have always done this with a smile on my face and filled with joy, but this would not be the truth. The truth is it's hard to surrender my dreams, but sometimes you have work through your questions and your challenges.
While I'm shovelling away I have to remember the Lord does have a purpose for me. In Jeremiah chapter 29 the discouraged Babylonian exiles are reminded to remember that God has not abandoned them, that He has planned a future and a hope. This was a hard word for such weary people to hear. They wanted to see His plans come to fruition immediately! Like the exiles I need to remember God is always working for my good (Romans chapter 8) and His glory.
One of my favourite musicians Will Reagan sings these lyrics 'I take a moment to remember who God is and who I am ...Your love carries, your love carries me through, all the valleys and the darkest places'. God speaks to me through Reagan's lyrics, cutting through my mindsets and reminding me that I am His son.
Justin Monaghan is currently launching as a professional prophetic artist under the label JR Faith Creations and runs a creative home fellowship with his wife Liana. Justin is also heavily involved in his local surfing community of South Australia as a surf coach, a judge of surf contests and a member of Christian Surfers.
Check out JR Faith Creations to see some of his art at https://www.facebook.com/Jrfaithcreations
Justin Monaghan's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/justin-monaghan.html