Just one year ago, I was pulled away from a ministry that had played a major role in my life since my freshman year of high school. Eleven years of commitment to something that felt like home was gone in an instant. I was left confused and broken-hearted, and even developed some anxiety that I had never experienced before. Why would God pull me away from something so good? I believed I was laying bricks for the Kingdom and I was seeing God move more tangibly than I ever had, so why was it all disappearing?
As we close out our short time together, I’m excited to look at David’s response to God’s promise with you. I hope that David’s reaction of gratitude and surrender is as ground-breaking for you as it has been for me as I have worked through the loss of my “big plans.” If you haven’t yet, please read 2 Samuel 7:18-29 now.
I picture David hearing the words Nathan the prophet said to Him and walking away in a daze and collapsing before God. Second Samuel 7:18 tells us he went in and sat before the Lord. Imagine what he had just heard! God was promising to make a great name for him, to appoint a place for Israel and give them rest from their enemies, and to establish a kingdom for his offspring. He asks the Lord, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?” Then, after acknowledging His insignificance before God, he calls this promise a “small thing” in God’s eyes! David did not see this promise from God as an opportunity for himself to become greater, but saw God extending His own greatness to him. When we create the habit of looking for Him in all things, rather than accrediting success to ourselves or coincidence, we are reminded of His greatness, and of our smallness in comparison. When we are in the habit of praising God consistently, we are able to ascribe to Him the glory He is due.
David understood this was an easy thing for God, and what He promised would come to pass. He humbly sets aside his ambitions to do something great for God, and lets God give something great to him. He didn’t grumble or even try to work his own plans into God’s; he relinquished control and believed that God was good for His Word. We can have the same confidence that in giving over our own plans and goals to God, we will find greater satisfaction in what He has for us than what we can do on our own strength. What we’re looking at typically determines our expectations. When our gaze is upon the Lord, our expectation is His unfailing greatness, and nothing less. And He meets it.
When you think about it, the whole reason we make goals at the beginning of every year is because we hope to be in a different spot than where we started. In her study on the life of David, Seeking a Heart Like His, Beth Moore gives us the reminder that we might not be where we want to be, but we are not where we were. As you think about where you want to be by the end of this year, take some time to remember how far God has brought you. And thank Him for it. God moves, my friends, and He likes to take us with Him if we’ll let Him.
I do not know yet the whole reason why God took me out of that ministry, but this is what I know now as I remember where I was one year ago; my ministry looked glorious and squeaky clean on the outside, but inside I was struggling with bitterness and discontentment that I had become so used to that I thought it was normal. Through months and months of sitting at my kitchen table pouring out my heart - my confusion, my anger, my sadness, all of it - to God, I slowly started to feel those things go away. I felt the promise of Psalm 18:19 come to fruition in my life. “He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” I learned how necessary forgiveness is in our lives - for us and from us. I learned that the bricks I thought I was laying were not mine to lay. We are called to be ambassadors for Christ, to be adopted sons and daughters, to be sheep that He shepherds. This is God’s will for us. Not to be builders or sustainers of the Kingdom. That is His job. Psalm 127:1 says “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”
The loss of something that was so dear to me for so long is still sad sometimes. Things won’t be the same again, but God is moving me into new places. He made room for me to say yes to something else that He had for me. I am not trying to fit my old life into this new and unfamiliar one. I know that if I was looking back and clinging to bits and pieces of the old, I would miss the wonder and the glory of what God is placing in front of me in this new season. Imagine if David went ahead with His plans to build a magnificent house for God, even after hearing what God had promised Him. What could he have missed? What would it look like for us to live in agreement with what God has in front of us today? What might we be missing that God is offering us if we don’t?
Instead of proceeding with what he intended, David responds with a prayer of gratitude and accepts what God had for him. Psalm 100 tells us, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise.” I think there is a reason this scripture tells us to start our time with the Lord by praising Him. Praise changes our mindset. It gives us eyes to see the Father more clearly for who He really is, what He’s really doing, and what His desires really are. If we can start not just 2020, but every day with Him, with grateful hearts, we are sure to be much more aware of His presence. Then, after we praise Him and remember who it is we are talking to, our desires and our requests will start to align with His. One day at a time, He will transform us to look more like Himself from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18).
So enter in. Come into his presence with praise. Sit before Him - like David - in surrender and awe and wonder. The more often you come, it’ll start to feel like home. The more time I spent at my kitchen table in prayer, the more clearly I could see Jesus sitting in the chair next to me, helping me sift through my dirt. You’ll start to see that because of the work of Christ, you no longer have to knock and ask to enter, but that the door is standing wide open for you to come in. And the Lord God, covenant maker and keeper, is waiting to greet you like an old friend.