(This series of devotionals spanned over a three year period of my life. I wrote out of truths that God shared with me throughout every season of this process. I love how he brought this all together and I pray that you will receive encouragement from what he allowed me to experience. Praise His Name!)
I don't think we realize how much we are learning when living in the in-between. It's probably because we are so focused on getting through it. But God is molding and shaping and training us in a way that only he can. It's called preparation.
This method that God uses should not surprise us in any way, but for some reason this reality becomes muddled when it concerns us. We focus on the end-game instead of foresight and forget that it is in these moments God is doing a deep work.
Our friendly grape growing guide has a word to say on preparation as well. Let's see what thoughts he has for us concerning this part of the in-between.
"First you must understand that soil requirements vary from region to region. A professional can evaluate and make certain recommendations based upon your soil condition. What does this mean to you, well don't make the mistake of adding amendments to your soil without knowing what is in your soil. Have the appropriate local government analyze a soil sample for you. It's silly to even try and guess. Adding nutrients is easy if necessary. Removing unwanted excess nutrients is nearly impossible."
Y'all. You have to love someone who gets straight to the heart of the matter.
We need professional help inorder to prepare our soil for the harvest. We'd be silly to attempt to guess what preparation is needed. In fact, if we run on ahead without consulting the experts we could cause damage that would be "nearly impossible" to correct.
Oh my. Is that preaching to anybody else?
Let's look at a familiar Bible story with fresh perspective today and see God's training manual for preparing those he has chosen as they live out the in-between.
I teach the 7th grade class at my church every Sunday. It has been one of the best things to ever happen to me. I love getting to know the kids and develop relationships with them and I've been blessed to have my three boys as well as my nephews and my niece all come through my class. I look at these growing children every Sunday and marvel at all the potential possibilities!
I also remember being in the 7th grade and can I get a witness?? I mean, yuck-o. Who on earth would ever want to go back and do that again? Just, no.
But I also know that God, even now, especially now, is doing a work of preparation over them. We looked at David last week and the lessons we applied for them speak true for anyone living in the in-between.
1 Samuel 16 details the story of the annointing of David to be King over Israel. The previous chapters tell us that God has rejected Saul as King because of his continued disobedience. We have a rejected King and a newly anointed King. Makes perfect sense to me! Let's get David on that throne!
But what we miss, if we are not careful, is that transfer of power does not immediatley occur. It will be years before David assumes the throne over Judah and even more time will pass before he becomes ruler over all of Israel. So, why the early anointing? Why does David not immediately take over?
God has moved. God has chosen. God has made his plans known. God is ready. David is not.
Oh, me. It's preparation time.
1 Samuel 16:13 tells us something very important. It explains that after Samuel anointed David, "the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power." You have to understand that in the Old Testament the Spirit came and went as directed by God. It is not until Jesus' ascension that the Comforter is given for anyone who believes. So, before David could accomplish what the LORD had chosen and called him to, he first had to have the power of God over his life. It is no different for us as well.
David's life is then marked by years of preparation. It just appears to be very un-Kingly.
He fights and kills a giant.
He is pressed into service for the guy he has been anointed to replace.
That guy is constantly trying to kill him.
He is on the run for his life and spends most of his time hiding in caves.
He spends years watching out and protecting his people, his kingdom from enemy attacks while not being recongized or receiving any benefits of being King.
Sound amazing? No, not to me either.
But God is preparing David. God has ordered his steps. God knows what he is doing between the anointing and the crowning. God is at work in the in-between.
The fight with the giant earned David respect with the fighting men of Israel. These are the same ones who would eventually be following his leadership.
The time spent in service under Saul gave David a unique opportunity to view the interworkings of Palace life. Not something he could have learned while tending his sheep.
Being constantly in fear for his life and on the run pressed David deep into the protection of his deliverer, God. We have the some of the greatest Psalms as our benefit from this difficult time.
And doing the right thing with no thought for personal recognition or reward is the kind of person you want leading you. You understand they recognize a higher purpose and a higher authority. They are not living for man's praise, but for God's approval.
This was David's preparation and it took years.
Most scholars think that David was a teenager when he was first anointed by Samuel; maybe 15 or 17. We know from 2 Samuel that David was recognized as Judah's King when he was 30 years old but did not become King over the entire nation until he was around 37.
That's a long time to live in the in-between.
It is not hard to look back and see the hand of God over my life. To understand the places, the people and the circumstances he orchestrated to prepare me for what's to come. What is difficult is to remember that preparation is a part of his plan when you are actively living it. That preparation is usually painful, tedious and can seem never-ending, but it is necessary. Why? Because without it we are not ready. We would be foolish, silly, to think otherwise.
I'm sure David was glad to see the end of his cave dwelling days every time he laid his head down on his king-sized bed. But I'm equally positive that when he read through his Psalms he remembered where he had been when the words of praise, acknowledgment and even anguish poured from his soul. He knew that it was those times that brought him to his future fully prepared to accomplish the purpose of the anointing.
The same holds true for us.
I don't know what God has called you to, called you to be, but I do know that the calling usually comes before the preparing. That is just the way God rolls. So, be encouraged while living in the preparation part of the in-between. God is the professional, the expert that is equipping your life to be fully prepared for the anointing. He will be faithful to the completion.
Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:7-9
All grape growing quotes from: http://www.grapegrowingguide.com/grape-pruning.html
All scripture from NIV, ESV and NLT translations.