My friend Dyanner Brown recently asked this question, “When, Lord?”
I am convinced that one of the toughest parts of the Christian life is the wait. In waiting for God’s vision for our lives to be fulfilled, we would rather measure time by minutes than months. Yet the Lord measures time by millennia (2 Peter 3:8). And we are on God’s time, not the other way around.
One of my favorite scriptures in the Bible is Habakkuk 2:2-3 (The Living Bible): 2 And the Lord said to me, “Write my answer on a billboard,[a] large and clear, so that anyone can read it at a glance and rush to tell the others. 3 But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow,[b] do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!
The ideas of “won’t happen right away” and “slowly, steadily, surely” echo throughout the Bible. Every person God used had to endure a waiting process. Joseph waited for 13 years before he became second in command in Egypt. Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years for their promised son Isaac. Moses waited 40 years before leading the children of Israel out of Egypt. Jesus waited 30 years before starting His ministry.
God often appears slow to us. It seems as though He is hiding from us. It feels like He has forgotten us. Yet, He is patiently working out His purposes for our lives and renewing our strength (2 Peter 3:9; Isaiah 40:29-31; Isaiah 64:4). And the stories of others reveal that we are not alone in the wait. God has a chosen pace and place for us. There are many puzzle pieces involved in carrying out His perfect plan for our lives. During the wait, God works things in us and out of us so that we don’t destroy the promise once He brings it to us. And when God puts it together, it is perfect :).
What to Do While We Wait
We can make our wait time productive and fulfilling by doing the following:
Cultivate our gifts.
Connect with our community.
Visit places we have been putting off.
Take a class.
Disciple another believer.
Set a reading goal.
Join a club.
Limit or delete social media if it hinders our contentment.
Face a fear.
Host a round table discussion.
We can rest assured that our wait is never wasted and that God will fulfill His promises to us.
What are you waiting on? I’d love to hear from you!
My friend Phyllis Cowans submitted the following question: ” God is telling me to seek cover in this season. How do I go about seeking spiritual covering?”
As I write this post, parts of southeast Texas are underwater as a result of Tropical Depression Imelda, which caused catastrophic flooding. Fires ravage and reduce the Amazon rainforest to ashes. The US economic divide is as stark as the political divide. Our world faces mounting natural and spiritual threats. This comes as no surprise to believers. The enemy’s time is running out, so he feverishly targets our lives, families, homes, health, and walk with God.
Yet, the people of God can be assured of His protection. Deuteronomy 33:12 says that we dwell in safety by Him, and He shelters us all day long. Psalm 91 is one of my favorite passages. According to Psalm 91:4, God covers us with His feathers, and we can take refuge under His wings. We do not have to fear these turbulent times when we are under God’s covering.
Debate About Spiritual Covering
There is much debate about the topic of spiritual covering, even among Christians. Some ministries advocate paying for spiritual covering. Some say that there is no need for additional spiritual covering if Christ is in our lives. Others say that women must be kept in their place and made to wear veils, keep silent in the church, and obey their husbands. Still others simply want to bring leaders together for fellowship, mentoring, and outreach.
In general, the muddled message out there seems to be, If you believe the right revelations, join the right group and do the right things (especially with money), you’ll be spiritually covered. But how does God define spiritual covering?
Christ Covers Us
When we receive Christ, we receive His protection, as depicted in the Passover (Exodus 12:21-27).
When the Israelites were preparing to leave Egypt, a spirit of death was released against the firstborn of the land. The Israelites’ only protection was a spotless lamb’s shed blood on the doorposts of their dwellings. All who had the blood on their doorpost lived.
Today, Christ is our Passover Lamb (see 1 Cor. 5:7). His blood secures us. This is the glorious work of the cross in our lives and the inheritance of every believer.
The amazing story of Rahab the harlot from Jericho (Joshua 2) demonstrates the blood’s protecting power. Rahab knew that Israel would win against her own lost city. So she requested and received protection during the invasion. A red cord hanging from her window, which represents the blood of Christ, was the key to her protection. Though Jericho was destroyed, Rahab and her family lived because of the provision of the red cord.
These examples of Christ’s provision reveal that spiritual protection for God’s people depends completely upon proper positioning. Even though a promise of safety was given, no one was safe unless they were in place.
If the Israelites left their homes during Passover, if Rahab were anywhere but behind the crimson cord, they would not have been covered. This is also true of Noah and his family during the flood.
Position is essential. David said in Psalm 91:1, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” No umbrella is useful in a rainstorm unless we are under it!
Today, we must know how and where to come under the full protection of Christ’s sacrifice. Our faith in Christ saves us, but we must cooperate with His provision to receive everything else. When we resist God’s direction, He is not under any obligation to protect us. However, He will guard those who are surrendered and in place.
Two Ways God Covers Us
Christ makes God’s protection available, but we receive this protection through two systems He has set up.
Prayer. The Bible encourages us to intercede constantly and use the shield of faith to thwart Satan’s attacks (Ephesians 6:16,18). A prayer shield offers covering over our lives as believers. We are instructed to continually pray for one another, our nation and our leaders. Prayer activates angels (Psalm 34:7), builds a hedge of protection around us (Job 1:5,9-11) and seals the gaps through which our spiritual enemy tries to gain access to our lives (Ezekiel 22:30). When we pray, we can move forward without the devil continually knocking us off track.
Divinely appointed relationships. According to Isaiah 4:5-6: “The Lord will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering … for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain.”
The covering over every home describes family relationships. The covering over every assembly describes the local church.
We experience God’s covering when we are rightly connected in our families and churches. Those relationships are the joints that supply us ( Ephesians 4:16). Right relationships are vital to our safety (1 Corinthians 11:11-12; Ephesians 5:21-25; Hebrews 10:24-25; 13:17).
The love, care, and accountability I enjoy as part of a believing family, praying local church, dedicated friends and ministries is an invaluable part of my growth and purpose. It is good to stay covered, connected, and balanced.
Some Signs of a Good Spiritual Covering
A spiritual covering offers added protection for our lives. Consider the following when connecting with a local church, denomination or ministerial fellowship.
1. CHRISTIAN CHARACTER – Though no one is perfect, any leaders we connect with should exhibit morality, integrity, the fruit of the Spirit, and solid character.
2. BALANCED, SCRIPTURAL TEACHING – In a good spiritual covering, the message is balanced and scriptural. There is not an overemphasis on giving money. Church leaders with genuine character do not exploit their flocks.
3. THE APPROVAL OF THE BODY OF CHRIST – We mostly earn our reputations. Ministries that are approved by the wider body of Christ indicate that we can connect with confidence.
4. GROWTH AND A GOOD TRACK RECORD Spiritual authority becomes more credible with time and experience. Look for proven longevity and tested maturity of a corporate covering.
5. GUIDANCE FROM HOLY SPIRIT God sets us into our place in the body ( 1 Corinthians 12:8), We should seek His assigned coverings for us. Let Him lead you in discovering true fellowship and protection.
Hope this helps. I would love to hear your feedback about spiritual covering.
My beautiful friend, Oral Roberts University roommate, and adventurer Caroline Baldwin recently asked this great question, “What’s next for me, Lord?”
When the future feels uncertain, we can turn to the One who knows it. We can trust Him to guide us through it. Below are some Bible verses for facing the unknown.
What God Says About the Unknown
Joshua 1:9 NLT – This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Psalm 32:8 NLT – The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.”
Psalm 37:23-24 NLT – The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT – Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
Philippians 4:6-7 NLT – 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Face Your Future With Confidence
The question “What’s next?” offers so many possibilities. This can be both freeing and intimidating. Here are a few practical ideas for addressing it.
Be still. Our gut is hiding God. He often speaks to us in a still, small voice, but we have to get quiet in order to hear it. Whether we journal, meditate, and/or spend time alone with God in nature, these and other activities can help us clear our minds and tune in to the Holy Spirit, our divine inner wisdom. He usually will not reveal our entire destiny, but He will tell us the next step to take. We must simply act on what He shows us.
What’s the next right move? Oprah Winfrey has given this advice to people dealing with this internal battle. The way through the challenge is to get still and not look at the big picture, but instead ask, “What’s the next right move?” Do that, and the next step will unfold. When we don’t know what to do next, we can simply do the next thing.
Eliminate as many choices as possible. We can get stuck in uncertainty because we have too many choices. More choices often lead to fear rather than freedom. So for instance, rather than making ten New Year Resolutions, I now focus on just one word that I want to manifest during the year. Rather than check out five interesting books from the library, I only check out and read one book at a time.
Let go of the outcome. Sometimes we are afraid to make the next step because we do not know what to expect. But life would be boring if we always knew exactly how each day would turn out. Life becomes more interesting and exciting when we have to change directions. Stay open. We may be surprised with an even better outcome than we thought.
What’s on your vision board? God has written a book on each of our lives (Psalm 139:16), so there is plenty for us to do. Once we accomplish one dream, we can start on the next one that He shares with us :).
Hope these ideas help you! What other items would you add to this list to answer the question. “What’s next?” I’d love to hear from you!
Our beliefs and ways of thinking often keep us stuck. We keep doing the same things and keep experiencing the same limited results. The following story by Portia Nelson, author of There is a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self Discovery illustrates this truth well. It is one of the greatest examples I have ever seen on the importance of self-awareness & self-esteem.
I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost… I am helpless. It isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.
Chapter 2 I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I am in the same place. But, it isn’t my fault. It still takes me a long time to get out.
Chapter 3 I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in. It’s a habit. My eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.
Chapter 4 I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
Chapter 5 I walk down another street.
One area where I “walked down the same street” for a long time was in the area of my self care. I used food as a reward for a hard day’s work but damaged my body in the process. Since January 2019, I have been “walking down a different street” by moving into my own place, hiring an accountability partner, eating primarily fruits and veggies, and exercising regularly at least 30 minutes a day. I have lost close to 50 pounds.
In what area(s) of your life are you “walking down the same street”? Share your thoughts below.
I recently saw Disney’s The Lion King live action movie recently with several friends. It brought back so many memories of when I first saw the animated masterpiece in 1994. It is my favorite movie of all time, in part because of the many lessons it contains. Here are some of them:
We are all connected. The movie’s title track, Mufasa and Simba’s conversation, and Timon and Pumbaa’s banter emphasize over and over again that the animals of Pride Rock are part of the great circle of life. What happens to one creature affects all the other creatures. The same is true for us humans. God made us all for connection and relationship. This has astounding implications for the way we live and move in the world.
Selfish ambition is deadly. Scar wanted Mufasa’s and Simba’s place, and would do anything to get it, including murder. It ultimately brought Scar’s demise.
Stick with your childhood vision. Simba had a dream of being king. Once Mufasa died, he gave it up. Fortunately, Nala and Rafiki gave him a wake up call, and he fulfilled his childhood vision of being king.
Forgive yourself. Simba left Pride Rock because he felt he was responsible for his father’s death. He carried that guilt with him for years. But when he confronted Scar and found out that he was responsible, he could let go of the guilt. We all make mistakes, and even though God forgives us, we often find it hard to forgive ourselves. Yet, forgiveness brings more confidence & clarity about what to do in life.
Remember who you are. Rafiki took Simba to the water to remind him that his father Mufasa lived in him. This gave him confidence to return to Pride Rock and take his rightful place as king. In the same way, Jesus, the lion of Judah, and the greater one lives within us. With Him on our side, there is nothing that we can’t do.
What is your favorite lesson from Lion King? I’d love to hear from you!
I wrote the following letter and created a vision board for Justin to present during his Man of the Woods concert date on Saturday, January 12, 2019. Due to new security regulations, I could not take these items into the arena, so I’ll just share my thoughts here.
I hope this letter finds you, your family, and your team enjoying your summer!
My name is Altronise (Trecie) Williams. I have been a fan of yours since the N’Sync days. We were also in the 1995 Memphis spelling bee together :).
Back in 2013, I was honored to meet your mom Lynn. She said the main thing she remembered about the spelling bee is asking you to misspell a word so you all could get out of there (lol!). Those contests were notorious all-day events!
I will never forget your kindness toward my sister Sheronda and me at your Man of the Woods concert in Memphis on May 30, 2018. It was one of the best times we ever had at a live event :). We felt yours and your team’s genuine connection with and love for your fans.
Below is just a token of my appreciation. Enjoy your vision board :).