My great grandfather, grandfather, and father were all farmers at various times in their lives. I, however, did not inherit their skill of plowing, sowing, waiting and reaping. In the physical sense, anyhow! But by the Spirit, I’m beginning to catch a glimpse of the Father’s heart regarding times and seasons.
Solomon, in all his wisdom, declares that there is a time to plant and a time to harvest. Instinctively, we tend to focus on the doing part of this verse (plant/harvest), but what about the being part; the “and a” season of transition?
A time to plant = doing
and a = being
A time to harvest = doing
Every farmer knows you never reap in the same season you sow. That “and a” season in between allows the seed TIME to die, take root, grow, emerge, and produce after its planted. Every parent understands the same analogy. There’s a transition between the seed being fertilized at the moment of conception and delivery. It’s the growing season called pregnancy! Nine months of developing until the appointed time for the child to be born. I’ll be honest, this child of God doesn’t really like transitional seasons. I can easily become impatient with the PROCESS. Often times, my impetuous nature tries to convince me to push through the transition because it’s so hard to just BE! To be still. And know that HE is God.
In this “and a” season, I am learning to embrace the PROCESS of death. For to know the power of Jesus in His resurrection, we must participate in His suffering, becoming like Him in death, amen? (Philippians 3:10)
The literal death of my mother.
The physical death of moving; our home, our church, our community.
The relational death (rejection, betrayal, denial) of family and friends.
From my vantage point, it has been a long, hard, painful season of:
But from God’s vantage point, this PROCESS of transformation is but a moment in the timeline of eternity. His time and seasons have a PURPOSE. He wants to PRODUCE good fruit in me! He’s a good Farmer, He knows what He’s doing. I simply have to trust Him.
11 “I cannot keep from speaking. I must express my anguish. My bitter soul must complain.
“One of the most consistent teachings of Scripture is that moments of difficulty will come. Rather than grumbling, we should pray and push forward, trusting God to expand our souls.”
This morning as I read the excerpt above from a devotional written by a well-known Christian leader, my eyes fixated on the words, “we should.” As I paused to consider the proceeding phrase, “rather than grumbling,” I became angry. I agreed with the sentiment of what the author was saying, “we should” pray. However, I found myself adamantly opposed to the statement that suggested what we should not do: grumble– or as Job puts it, complain. In the current season of my life, I have felt the sting of familiar religious phrases from the friends of Job who tell me what I should and should not do to end my suffering. The words they communicated may have been true, but they did not taste like the sweet fruit of love.
“We should” reeks of a religious spirit. Its motivation is that of obligation to the law, not love. Jesus never taught His disciples to perform the ten commandments perfectly to please Him. Instead, He invited them- He invites us- to love Him; thus, fulfilling the most important commandment in the law of Moses. The Lords desire is that we trust Him with all of our heart (mind, will and emotions).
I know about loving Him with some of my heart. I was what some would call a strong-willed child. And that strong will didn’t go away when I was born again! As a young believer, I was on my way to becoming a well-respected religious leader. A Pharisee of Pharisees. I worked diligently at transforming my mind. I disciplined my will to submit, submit, submit. But I was absolutely void of any emotion in my relationship with the Lord. I had spent an entire lifetime learning to stuff my feelings. I knew how to pray and push on. That is, until 2011, when I saw JESUS face to face while receiving healing and deliverance ministry from others in the body of Christ. During that encounter, I was SET FREE from emotional bondage! By the power of His Spirit, I could no longer keep from speaking. I HAD to express my anguish. My bitter soul HAD to complain. As I did so, the Light of the world exposed what was hidden in darkness, thus releasing a floodgate of tears that as Corey Russell says, turned into liquid prayers.
My friend, I submit to you that we SHOULD grumble, complain, throw a hissy fit, or have a temper tantrum! God already knows what’s in our hearts. Why are we so afraid of expressing it to Him? Do we fear His rejection? Do we believe He will leave or forsake us if we don’t perform our religious duties perfectly? Or do we fear what our friends will think or say if we absolutely lose it? I encourage you to read to the end of Job’s story in the book that bears His name. Yes, God rebuked Job for his pride, but He did not condemn him for expressing what was in his heart as he suffered great loss.
Let us, like Job, bare our souls to the One who knows every intimate detail of our lives. Let us trust that when we have a 4-year-old meltdown in our room, our mothers garden, or the Walmart parking lot, He can handle it. Let us believe He is who He says He is: comforter, healer, deliverer. Let us remember, He is a good Father, able to give us good gifts and a good spanking, when we need it. Let us be like little children, expressing the good, bad and ugly in His presence, without fear. This is how we learn to love Him with ALL of our hearts.
13 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages[b] and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! 9 Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.
11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.[c] All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
Amidst the ongoing political chaos, I recently got sucked into the vortex of fear that invaded the body of Christ. As I continued hearing and reading the urgent messages by the right, left and middle that consumed the media, I began being tossed to and fro on the waves of public opinion.
I pulled up my anchor.
I stopped going off to a quiet place EVERY DAY to pray. Instead of picking up the Word, I picked up my iPad to read the words of others. I wanted to be informed. I wanted to be prepared for what might or might not happen. I wanted all knowledge of good and evil! I wanted to be. Like. God.
Thankfully, the Spirit within me interrupted the noise of the storm one morning and whispered 1 Corinthians 13 to my soul. I turned off the world and tuned into heaven. When I looked at the One sitting on the throne I realized that my focus had shifted to the words of prophetic people, Trump and Biden, Republican and Democrat. As a result of eating that fruit, I found myself naked and afraid- hiding from God.
But…..He is faithful. He never grows weary of calling out to me, “Jodie, where are you?!”
Once again, His Word anchored my soul. His Word washed me in His love. His Word corrected and rebuked me. His Word cast out fear. And His Word beckoned me to love- regardless of church doctrine, regardless of political affiliation, regardless of who was right or wrong. I found it interesting as I re-read the overly familiar passage (1 Corinthians 13), that Paul seemed to divert from his love message to the church in Corinth by mentioning his childhood.
Perhaps he was saying that spiritual maturity does not equal soul maturity.
Spiritual maturity (gifts):
Speaking in tongues
Praying in tongues
Words of knowledge
Soul maturity (fruit):
Not record keeping
Not rejoicing in injustice
Never gives up
Never loses faith
I’ve been saved and following the Lord for more than 20 years. I’ve grown in spiritual maturity; knowledge of the Word, prophesy, praying in tongues, giving and serving others, and interpreting Gods secrets revealed through dreams.
But in areas of my heart- my soul, I’m still a little girl. In immature little girl. I often think like an 8-year-old. I often reason like a 4-year-old. I haven’t put away all my childish things. Case in point: when the arrows of pain and pressure penetrate my heart, I sometimes react in outbursts of anger. Like a volcano, I erupt violently, spewing hot lava all over the people I’m supposed to love. Like a child, I basically throw a massive temper tantrum.
As I’ve listened to and read other believers words, posts and comments on social media I see that I am not alone in my immaturity. The body of Christ has many infants and toddlers who refuse to grow up. Instead, we’re content to remain in adolescence for decades. Instead of crucifying our flesh, we continue to operate out of our anointing without operating out of the Fathers heart. Instead of repenting for our childish ways, we decree and declare and demand our own way. We have been nosy gongs and clanging cymbals during this election. It grieves the Lord. And it should grieve us.
I don’t understand His ways, but I believe the Commander of Heavens armies is sovereign over the Commander in Chief of America. I don’t understand His ways, but I believe the Spirit is saying to the churches in this hour, “it’s time to grow up in love.” I don’t understand His ways, but I believe God is calling those of us who’ve been prodigals to come home. He’s causing those of us who’ve been stuck in the pig muck of society to come to our senses. He is running out to meet those of us who’ve spent our inheritance on the Great Prostitute. He’s putting a ring and a robe on those of us who’ve lived as orphans. He’s welcoming us as sons and daughters back into His house. He’s teaching us how to pray. He’s training us to love, as He first loved us.
My brother, my sister, I humbly ask you to take a moment. Leave the worlds playground and go off to a quiet place to pray. Allow the Spirit to search your heart. Ask the Lord, “what are the areas of immaturity in my soul?” Confess your childish ways. Repent for your temper tantrums. Receive His love, and return His love by obeying His commands.
The world is watching and waiting for us to prove that we are His disciples.
35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
15 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.
Today is the official dissolution date of the ministry we planted exactly 10 years ago. There are several reasons why God required us to close, but at the moment, only one matters: “He cuts every branch that doesn’t produce fruit.” Yes, through the years, I believe much fruit grew through the work of the ministry. Individuals, couples, children and multiple generations of families encountered the Lord, and were transformed. Hallelujah! However, in recent months, the Spirit had been revealing through Scripture, prayer, dreams (mine and others) that I had wandered down a path He did not send me. I had rebelled against His leadership. As a result, I had abandoned my first love: Jesus.
The result? Fruitlessness in that area of my life.
I may have turned away from the Son of Man, but He never left me. He has been interceding at the right hand of the Father all along. He has been praying that my faith would not fail as the enemy was granted permission to sift me like wheat. And in His timing, I was able to hear the sound of the rooster crowing in my Spirit- bringing conviction of sin. Like Peter, at the realization of my denial, I wept bitterly.
Repentance is a painfully beautiful gift in our relationship with the Lord. It’s an acknowledgement of the death we’ve been living under, which releases deep sorrow. It’s also a realization of the resurrection life that we have returned to, which brings great joy!
Repentance causes us to realize: He cuts us because He loves us.
A branch has been severed in me. Amen! It is gone. Gone but not forgotten. It is forgiven. Forgiven but not hidden. For it serves as a reminder of the blood that covers all my sin, cleansing me of all unrighteousness, connecting me to the vine which produces much fruit, bringing glory to the Father!
5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.