Welcome back to the God’s Preparation series, my friends. I hope you are finding this encouraging and enlightening. God’s ways are so beautifully intricate and simple at the same time. I know that probably doesn’t make sense, but that’s how I’ve begun to see Him. Lynn and I speak often of this and how we, His children, tend to complicate things. I sense part of this year of intimacy with Him is also about simplicity.
To review, the first week we talked about how God works in and uses our Trials and Challenges. Last week we talked about how Time + Honor = Fruit. As I said last week, the fruit from one trial becomes the strength and preparation for the next. This week, let’s talk about recognizing God’s preparation. We have some amazing examples in the Bible.
God is all about preparation. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can see many examples of this in His Word. I’m just going to pick out a few of my favorites. Feel free to share yours in the comments! I can’t wait to hear yours.
One of my favorite stories is of Joseph. We are introduced to Joseph in Genesis 37 and watch him walk a path full of trials and challenges that span his entire life, right through to Genesis 50 when he is reunited with his family and they bury his father, Jacob.
All that Joseph suffered—from a pit, to a prison, to a palace—he summarizes like this:
You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. — Genesis 50:20
And Paul sums it up like this:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. — Romans 8:28
Joseph's preparation was specific to God's purpose and calling to his life and according to God’s plans and purposes to save the lives of many people. Joseph’s trials and challenges show us each step of his preparation to ultimately be ready and able to handle a place of such authority so that he could fulfill God’s plan to save the Israelites. (Read Genesis 37-50 to get the full picture.)
Another story is in Genesis 22 when God calls Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. I believe this was part of God’s preparation for the coming Messiah. As I’ve said in the past, God seems to always have more than one purposed for everything. Just as this event tested Abraham’s faith (and can even be symbolic of not making idols out of those we love), I believe it also served as a foundational depiction of what was to come—specifically the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God’s only Son.
Yes, Abraham had Ishmael, but that was not technically part of God’s plan for Abraham’s offspring to be as numerous as the stars. Isaac was always the intended “only son.” And I believe this sacrificial model is exemplified when Abraham answers Isaac’s question about the sheep:
“God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son.” — Genesis 22:8
The generations proceeding Abraham and Isaac would have this story as a prophetic picture of what was to come—Jesus’ sacrificial death to save us all.
Another story is in the New Testament, the story of Lazarus (John 11). As I read this story one day, God strongly impressed upon me the understanding that the resurrection of Lazarus was to be a reference point for the disciples for when Jesus died and was then resurrected.
Again, Jesus was preparing the disciples to understand what was to come:
So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.” — John 11:14-15
God is all about preparation, and it seems it is never just for our own benefit. Our preparation often serves not only us as individuals but those around us as we share our testimony and blessing with individuals, communities and even nations. Our end results can be preparation for others!
I’m learning to be aware of the Holy Spirit’s “call to attention” when I see, read, or hear something that will be significant to something that I will soon experience or walk through. How often have you looked back and can identify things that played a key role in the bigger event? The more in tune we are with the Holy Spirit, the more we will sense these things before and recognize them as preparation.
And let me also say, God is not random. He fits and works everything perfectly together, whether good or evil. This is one of the most amazing ways He thwarts the enemy’s plans in our lives. He will take something the enemy intended to used to destroy and use it to create life and redemption (like Joseph’s life). This is where the power of our testimonies lays, to release hope and the power of the Holy Spirit into the lives of others.
The SUM ministry is a testimony to this. God used mine and Lynn’s mismatched marriages to lead us closer to Him and to teach us how to thrive in this type of marriage—all in preparation to create a ministry to help others in mismatched marriages. Our lessons, blessings and victories are meant to be shared.
Okay, now it’s your turn. How do you see God’s preparation working in you life? What do you think He’s preparing you for? Can’t wait to hear your stories!