Earlier in the year, I shared I'll go with(out) you - a reflection on how we may be content to go on even when God has stopped and how in impatience and zeal, we may go on without His presence. Sometimes, we are content to proceed without God as long as we have the presence of others or the presence of our gifts, skills, intellect, connections and experiences. We talk a lot about where we are going and sometimes not enough about where we are staying. Staying faithful. Staying rooted.
I’ve always underestimated how much my commitment to not proceeding without the Lord will be tested. In the Winter, Wilderness and Warfare reflection from a few summer’s ago, I shared this:
This is what internal winter will make you do,
You will stare longingly through the glass screens,
At your peers frolicking in their summers.
You will sit on the windowsills of devices and scroll,
With tinges of envy, disappointment and disdain.
Isn't so much of our desire to move ahead of God as a result of what we see before and around us or what we have seen before?
Recently, I found myself pining for a past place God had positioned me in. I was like he who sat on a windowsill of my device - watching others experiencing things my heart missed and still ached for. In my not-so-spiritual rant, I wrestled with where God had presently positioned me.“God, I miss that place, I don't like this place. Why can't we go there?" I proceeded to spend the next several minutes pouring my frustration to God with my head buried in my hands and with tears of longing and missing cascading my face.
I'm so glad God is patient with our fits and still longs to hear the present struggles and frustrations within our every season. He knows our every thought and all stored up in our hearts yet still longs for us to verbalise these to Him.
In the middle of my grumbling, the Lord lovingly reminded me of a scripture written by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians that we often use to share about the importance of everyone's role in the work of God; "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow."
God made it grow.
In that very moment, in my mind's eye, I saw a picture of the bank of the river; one side of it green with lush foliage and the opposite bank dry and desolate. "But Maria, there's nothing to grow in the place you want me to place you." This was what I felt the Lord was saying to me in response to my rant. I got the message loud and clear. I wanted to be on that other person's river bank. The bank that was presently lush with green foliage. I wanted God to position me in an expression of abundance I had once known. I wanted God to position me into the promise I had still been believing for.
Through that vision, God was stilling my discontented heart and reminding me that I was exactly where I needed to be for the purposes of bearing fruit and bringing glory to His kingdom. There were seeds in the earth of where He had placed me that were yet to bud and reap a harvest. While in the physical where I was looked desolate, in the spiritual, it was actually fertile ground. Even though nothing had sprung forth yet.
There was purpose in the place and positioning that God had me in. If I tried to move myself to the opposite bank of the river that was luscious, I’d have nothing to produce because the seed that God had uniquely put on the inside of me needed specific soil. If I had taken myself out of the soil for my unique seed, I’d have nothing to produce or would not produce at the rate and quality God intended.
Sometimes we are so concerned with the furtherance of our dreams, our comfort and our desires even if it costs us furthering His Kingdom. So often we want God to move us to new places and positions because we may see others enjoying those spaces. Other times, we want Him to move us back to where He once positioned us because we once enjoyed those spaces as well. Other times we have His promises at the forefront of our hearts and minds and are ready to skip a season just to get to the fulfilment of a promised season.
We want to leave the soil and season we are currently in but where we may want God to position us may not be where we will be most fruitful for His purposes at this present time. Like the picture I saw, it may be a position that God doesn’t yet desire to plant us in. Perhaps because the soil is not yet fertile there. Perhaps there’s still a few more seeds to bud in the current place.
Maybe it's a not yet thing. Maybe God does intend to honour that desire in your heart and move you into that place and position when the time is right and the conditions are right so that you may bear much fruit in that space. Maybe He intends to move you somewhere totally different from where you ever wanted to be. Maybe that place and position is right for that particular person in this point in time but just not for you.
We subscribe to other people’s seasons, uprooting ourselves from our current positioning and planting ourselves in their soil. We may open up opportunities for ourselves and prematurely open doors that leave us even more disappointed and frustrated than we were before. We may take on a burden of a new place or position that may be good for someone else in this season but the Lord may had not graced us to bear. Then we wonder why we don’t produce and flourish in a place God never called us to.
As followers of Jesus, we resigned our right to dictate when and where we go.
The definition of honour in the Bible has it's root in the word kabod meaning heavy or weighty. To honour is to place weight and importance to something. Sam Hamstra, Jr. said this: "While honour is an internal attitude of respect, courtesy, and reverence, it should be accompanied by appropriate attention or even obedience. Honour without such action is incomplete; it is lip service."
What if God is calling you in this season to honour the place that He has you in? What would it look like to honour the soil? What if we perceived honouring the soil as actually honouring God?
Whenever our desire to have our way overrides our devotion to God’s unique season for our lives , we dishonour the soil we’re in. We no longer give weight to the place God has us in. We mentally and emotionally check out and are just waiting for an opportunity to physically check out as well. We disregard it as not as worthy because it may not be where we want to be in this present moment. We undervalue our soil because it may not be as glamorous or as praiseworthy as another's.
Honouring the soil and staying faithful to the season means not just staying but giving the best of who we are and what we have for God to be glorified and to fulfil the piece of His purpose in us to see the human project move forward.
I'm still learning how to not just go but how to stay with Him.
I'm still learning how to choose to honour the soil He's put me in in this season.
I'm still learning to be faithful with the position He has tasked me with, putting my entire weight, giving it my absolute all in order to fruitful in the place He has planted me in.
I'm still learning to remind myself that right here is not just fertile ground - it's holy ground.
Honouring the soil means honouring the uniqueness of where God has me in this season, who He has called me to be in this place. Not trying to subscribe to another’s season, position myself in another’s purpose or mimic another’s ministry. When comparison attempts to rob me of my faithfulness to my unique purpose and positioning in this season, I choose to trust His plan for my life - even when it may look different than what I thought or different from the lives of others.
He sees everything and knows all things. His ways are not my ways. He’s a rewarder of those who seek Him, those who obey Him and those who lay down their plans, positions to respond to His good and perfect will.
I'll stay with Him.