by Gina Lynnes
Have you ever felt like the Lord might—just might—have forgotten you?
Have you ever wearied of praying and waiting for direction and wished you could just send Him an email? You know, the kind that’s marked urgent (!) and sends a delivery receipt so you know it’s gotten through.
Dearest God, you might say. I don’t mean to be pushy but You said something to me a few years ago about having a really great and specific plan for my life. I haven’t heard from You about that plan lately and I was wondering if it might have accidentally slipped into the sea of forgetfulness that’s reserved for sins and stuff. If so, would you mind retrieving it and sending me a duplicate copy? I can’t figure out exactly what it is I’m supposed to be doing right now.
If you’ve ever felt like that, you’re not alone. A lot of the great men and women in the Bible would have hammered out that email if they’d had a good enough wireless connection available. Many of them must have wondered if God had forgotten them—not just once but many times in their lives. Really. Think about it.
Moses…40 years on the backside of the desert thinking that just maybe murdering that Egyptian put the kibosh on the whole deliverer anointing. (But even so, God could have at least sent him a termination notice.)
Caleb… “Sure, Caleb, you’ll fulfill your destiny—as soon as all except one of your friends is dead and you’re really, really old. You’ll pretty much just wander around in circles before then but when you’re 80 things will really start picking up for you.”
Joseph…bad brothers, bottom of a well, years in slavery and prison. (Think those were on Joseph’s 15-Year Plan to the Fulfillment of My Dream?)
David…These are his own words. “How long will You forget me, O Lord? Forever?…” (Ps. 13:1)
All those faith heroes started out with a fire for God in their bellies and a divine dream in their hearts. They had tremendous zeal in their early years. A little short on wisdom sometimes, but they had boldness and energy to spare.
As the years passed, however, and their dreams went unfulfilled, they suffered devastating disappointments. Some of those disappointments were the result of their own failures. Others were delivered by the devil himself. The most painful were administered by people they trusted— brothers, fellow saints, even men in positions of spiritual power who abused their authority and wounded, rather than nurtured, their tender souls.
Even so, these amazing men of God somehow kept their fire. They somehow recovered from all the disappointments, delays and betrayals they experienced. Even after 10, 15, even 40 years of waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promise, they were able to shake off their weariness and regain the lightning flash of faith that once lit their eyes.
How did they do it?
I don’t know about you, but I want to know. No…that’s not quite right. I need to know. Because like them—and no doubt, like you—when it comes to disappointments and delays, pardon the cliché but: Been there. Done that. Have the sweatshirt. (No t-shirts for me anymore. I live in ice land now.)
And, bless God, I don’t want to lose my fire! I don’t want to putter across the finish line of my spiritual race on one of those little motorized platforms they make for people who are too lazy to walk. I want to blaze across with my arms and legs pumping, slinging sweat and glory on every spectator in sight and looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of my faith.
And I want to do it with that wild-eyed pack of faith-folks I started out with. I want to do it with people like you.
That’s why I’ve been studying David lately. I believe he’s a great example for us.
He experienced everything all of us have experienced and more. He knew what it’s like to be chosen, anointed, called of God and given a divine dream…and then spend years watching it move not closer but farther away. He knew what it was like to lose his dearest friend. He knew what it was like to be betrayed by the very people he laid down his life to serve. He knew what it was like to be maligned and persecuted not just by the enemies of God but by the very leader God anointed and put in authority over him!
David didn’t just have the sweatshirt. He had a whole closet full of them.
In my previous article, we visited David in 1 Samuel 30. There, we found him at Ziklag, hiding out in the land of the Philistines trying to keep Saul from separating his head from his shoulders and awaiting the fulfillment of the promises God had given him years before.
By this time in his life, David had been betrayed by his king and seemingly abandoned by his family and countrymen. Yet he and his ragtag army of rejects were still fighting to serve God and move toward their destiny.
From their outpost in Ziklag they were stealthily attacking Israel’s enemies, laying waste the likes of the Gershurites, Girzites and Amalekites. While Saul paraded around as the anointed of Israel, enjoying the privileges and perks of a king, David and his despised little company were actually doing his job.
And what did they get for their trouble? A surprise counterattack from the Amalekites. God, it seemed, stood idly by while their homes at Ziklag were burned to the ground, their possessions plundered and, worst of all, their wives and children were taken captive.
Sometimes we read about what happened to David at Ziklag and think, Wow, that experience really stunk! But that’s a massive understatement. Actually, David’s whole life stunk right then— and had been stinking for quite a few years.
That was bad for David but good for us.
Why? Because if somehow he was able to get back up after all that and recapture his warrior spirit, we can do it too. If, after years of disappointment and delay, he could rise up with the same kind of faith spit and fire he had as a teenager when he felled Goliath…if he could rise up and rout the Amalekite army like he did the Philistine army in his early years, then we can do the same kind of thing.
We don’t have to settle for watching Christian infomercials on television. We don’t have to set our hope on vitamin supplements and praise cruises. We can still take serious ground for the Kindgom. We can strap on the sword of the Spirit and fight again.
How? By learning from what David did.
And as I wrote in my previous article, the first thing he did was cry. He got real with God. He acknowledged just how bad the whole horrible mess hurt and then he received God’s divine comfort—comfort that is sufficient to heal us of any wound the devil can inflict, no matter how severe it may be.
We’ve already seen that those tearful times with the Lord can be vital, even indispensable. But, lest we conclude that crying to the Lord is the remedy for all our problems, I must hasten to add that crying in itself does not a victor make.
On the contrary, if you’re ever going to turn the situation around and get your destiny back, at some point, you’ll have to stop crying.
“Okay,” you might say. “I’ll do that. I’ll stop crying when I feel like it. I’ll stop when the pain goes away.”
Then you’d better go to Sam’s and buy a forklift full of Kleenex because that’s not going to happen for a long time. In fact, the devil will work to make sure it never happens. He’ll keep you dabbing your eyes and digging around in an emotional sandbox trying to uncover the reasons for all your hurts for the rest of your natural life.
If David had waited for the pain to stop before he got back to the business of dealing with Amalekites, he’d never have been king of Israel. He’d have died blowing his nose in the ash heap of Ziklag.
No, thank God, David didn’t wait on his emotions.
While he was still greatly distressed, while everything around him was still going wrong and his friends were sobbing and selecting rocks with which to pummel him, David strengthened himself in the Lord.
If you were a “formula” Christian (which you probably aren’t or you would have stopped reading these letters long ago) you would be getting confused right now. You’d be saying, “What?! First you tell me to cry because I feel bad…then you tell me NOT to cry because I feel bad? How am I supposed to know what to do when?”
You’re supposed to do it by following the leading of the Holy Spirit. You do it by following the anointing in prayer. When the Holy Spirit anoints you to cry, cry with all your heart. Just haul off and let ‘er rip. At those times, the Holy Spirit will be so present in the midst of your tears that you’ll practically feel like He is handing you the tissues Himself.
But if you keep crying after the anointing lifts, the crying will change. Instead of bringing life and restoration, it will become a bunch of poor-me, self-pity blathering. Rather than lifting you into the awareness of God’s love, it will plunge you deeper into discouragement. When that happens, stop it. Square your shoulders, turn your back on your pain and do what David did.
Strengthen yourself in the Lord.
The Bible doesn’t tell us that the Lord strengthened David. No, as much as I wish it did, it doesn’t. In fact, it doesn’t tell us that God did or said anything to David right then. God just waited silently for David to do what he knew to do. He waited for him to strengthen himself in the Lord.
Talk about tough love! God didn’t even send David a parade of friends and ministers to strengthen him. (Thank God for those when we have them, but sometimes just when we need them most they fail to show up.) God just sat there silent as a post. He waited for David to choose whether he was going to sit there all puffy-eyed and die in the dust…or start doing what he had to do to finish God’s plan for his life.
Personally, I hate when God does that. I know it’s good for me, but I still hate it.
I hate it so much, in fact, that one time when I needed encouragement and nobody around seemed up to the task of giving it to me, in a brilliant moment of self-pity, I briefly considered just sitting on my can until Jesus visited me in a great burst of glory and talked to me Himself. I figured if He did it for Kenneth Hagin, He could, by cracky, do it for me.
But I figured wrong.
The Lord let me know that right quick by reminding me of the time when I was six years old and, mired in a similar miasma of “poor-me-ness,” I decided to run away from home. After loudly announcing my intentions, I packed my little yellow suitcase (the one with the fuzzy silhouette of a ballerina flocked on the front) and in full sight of my parents marched self-righteously out the front door.
My whole intention, of course, was to make them feel so sorry for me that they would come rushing after me before I even crossed the street. But they didn’t come rushing. In fact, they didn’t come at all. Which, of course, presented a dilemma because I wasn’t supposed to cross the street alone and it’s hard to run very far away without crossing the street. So, cross it I did.
It occurred to me, however, that if I went too far away, when my parents finally did come to their senses—weeping all the while and confessing what fools they’d been for failing to properly appreciate their marvelous daughter—they might not be able to locate me. So, I hunched down behind the bushes in the yard across the street to wait for the parental rushing and weeping to begin.
But it never did. So, at dusk when I got hungry and realized I was afraid to spend the night outside by myself, I went dragging home. There I found hugs, kisses, a Mom and Dad who were glad to see me and a warm dinner awaiting my return.
Smart parents. I never ran away again.
God reminded me in a hurry that He is at least as smart as my parents were. And —His visitations with brother Hagin notwisthstanding—if He didn’t send a super-duper-God-encounter- glory-ball to strengthen David at Ziklag, odds are, He wouldn’t send one to me. So I’d better not waste my time sulking in the bushes and waiting for it.
Instead, I’d better start doing what I know to do. I’d better stop feeling sorry for myself, go to my Father’s house and eat from the table He’s prepared for me.
That’s phase two of David’s Ziklag recovery process. He drew near to God for the purpose of getting strong. Regardless of how distressed and sad we may feel, if we’re going to regain our spiritual zeal we must do the same thing. The minute we do, the Holy Spirit will take hold together with us and start helping us get our strength back.
He knows what kind of spiritual food and exercise we need to get back in top condition. So all we have to do is get moving and then follow His lead.
The Holy Spirit: Your Personal Trainer
I’ve done that myself in recent times and it’s amazed me how varied the Holy Spirit’s strength-training program can be. One day, for example, I started out confessing the Word. (It just seemed like the obvious thing to do.) But before long, I began to sense the Holy Spirit leading me to just sit silently, waiting in the presence of the Lord.
My, what an anointing there was on silence that day! I became so aware of the fact that God was with me—not just in theory but in reality—that with every moment I grew tangibly stronger on the inside. Honestly, I was baffled by it at first. Is it possible that just sitting here in God’s presence, being aware of Him, could do so much to fortify my spirit? I wondered.
Of course, it could! I realized. After all, Isaiah 41:1 says, “Keep silence before Me…And let the people renew their strength!” (Sometimes there’s so much noise—even in church—it just wears us out. Holy Ghost silence can be rejuvenating.)
At other times, as I’ve purposed to strengthen myself in the Lord, the Holy Spirit has led me to pray aloud scriptures like Psalm 23 that speak of God’s faithfulness, strength and provision. He’s also led me to sing and rejoice. He’s led me to make bold declarations of faith and remember His faithfulness to me in times past.
I’ve spent times praying in other tongues for the express purpose of building myself up on my most holy faith (Jude 20).
Go Back to Oldies But Goodies
Most recently, He’s prompted me to go back and listen to some old messages (old, I’m telling you, like 1982 kind of old) on the blood covenant.
I can almost guarantee you, that’s what David meditated on that day at Ziklag. After all, He was a covenant man from the beginning. It was his bold faith in the power of his covenant with God that sent him hurtling after Goliath, slingshot in hand, in his early days. It was his zeal to bring honor and glory to God as his covenant Partner that made him, young as he was, such a mighty and fearless warrior.
It only makes sense that when he desperately needed that kind of faith fire in his belly again, he went back to the message that lit him up in the first place. He went back to His covenant relationship with God.
You can do the same thing. If your zeal has dissipated, go back to those early truths that first fired you up.
“Well, I don’t even know if I want that kind of faith fire in my belly again” somebody might say. (Not you, you’d never say that…but somebody might.) “I had it before and I got hurt. I had it before and I was disappointed. Why would I want it again?”
There’s just one reason—and contrary to the current trend of Charismatic thought, it’s not so that you can enjoy a luxurious little earth life.
No, there’s another reason we fight the good fight of faith tooth and toenail all the way to the end. There’s another reason for us to do what Peter urged us to do and add virtue (which means courage, excellence and military-type valour) to our faith and finish like winners.
We do it because we’re going to stand before Jesus one day and give Him an account of what we did with our lives. We’re going to explain what we did (and didn’t do) with the Word we heard and the promises He provided with His precious blood.
We do it because we don’t want to just slip quietly into heaven someday, unrewarded and barely noticed. We want what Peter calls “an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11).
Don’t Let the Amalekites Win
Oh yeah, and also, living a comfortable, compromising kind of Christianity reeks. It’s boring. God says He prefers a fired up backslider to a cooled off saint. Truth be told, so do you. At least the guy who’s determined to sin is committed to something!
Granted staying on fire for God isn’t easy. There are times when we’re sure to get tired. There are times when we’ll get so fed up with the disappointments, betrayals and delays that we’ll feel like quitting (or at least turning the heat in our hearts down to a simmer instead of a boil).
But if we do that, the Amalekites will have won. They’ll keep our families enslaved, consume our inheritance and laugh at our loss if we don’t get back up and get strong enough to kick their wicked behinds.
If God hasn’t given us a plan for exactly how to do that, if He’s been unusually quiet about our future lately, maybe—just maybe—it could be because He’s waiting for us to get our strength back. Maybe He’s waiting for us to get spiritually muscled up so that He can answer our prayers for direction and give us a the battle plan.
He can’t afford to give it to us while we’re weak. He loves us too much to send us running beaten-down and puffy-eyed after an enemy who is out for blood. He has to wait until we’re walking again in the revelation of who we are in Christ and how powerful He is in us.
Sadly, many believers never do what it takes to really get grounded in that revelation. Instead, they get a superficial understanding of a couple of scripture promises and sully forth to whip up on the devil with them. Then when the devil turns around and starts to whip them back, they don’t have the inner strength to resist him till he flees. So they end up running back to Ziklag howling about how the faith life just doesn’t work.
That’s what David would have done if he hadn’t strengthened himself in the Lord because the fight that lay ahead of him was a tough one. Once he found the Amalekites “eating and drinking and dancing, because of the great spoil which they had taken” (v. 16), to fully defeat them David had to attack them for 24 hours straight.
That’s a lot of fighting…but David was ready for it. He was strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. He’d thrown off his weariness and become a warrior again. He went after the Amalekites just like he once went after Goliath—with the fiery flash of faith in his eye. And when he was finished them, there wasn’t one left standing.
Get Strong. Get Ready. God Still Has Plans for You.
That’s the kind of future God still has for you and me. He hasn’t forgotten the plans He has for us. He hasn’t forgotten those early promises. He knew there would be days we’d feel like He had, though. Days when we’d say like David did, “The LORD has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me.” (Is. 49:14)
So He sent us an email of sorts a few thousand years ago and wrote, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands [I have marked my own hands with the sign of our covenant!]; Your walls are continually before Me.” (v. 15-16)
You can take that however you want—as a loving encouragement from your Father or as kind kick in the pants from your Personal Trainer. I’m receiving both…as I click the reply icon key in my heart and say, “Thanks, Lord. I needed that.”