The Prophet: Beyond the Circumstances

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1)

Looking back over my Christian journey, one of the themes that I see unfolding is the reality of the unseen realm. Life in the spirit is a mystery. Those on the outside can desire the same passion. They can pray the same prayers. They can preach the same sermons. But without the spirit of God, they have nothing but dead works. As believers, we must learn to live in the unseen realm of the spirit.

Take Abraham as an example. God had promised a son to him. However, that was humanly impossible. When Abraham chose to look at his circumstances, he made a bad decision that led to an intense familial conflict. Abraham had to learn to live in the unseen realm of God’s promise to Him. His willingness to sacrifice Isaac on the altar reveals how thoroughly he had committed himself to that.

Looking over my spiritual journey, I see some of the challenges of living in the realm of faith, or in the realm of the unseen:

  • God is intent on building faith and building sensitivity to the unseen realities of His kingdom. For me, that has meant living in circumstances that defy the promises of God for my life. Yes, I know God has placed these things in my heart, but I am also surrounded by circumstances that defy them. I must choose: will I be overwhelmed by the circumstances, or will I live in the reality of God’s promise?
  • Sometimes it feels like God has intentionally clouded my “natural vision”. Looking back over my journey, my major life decisions were “no-brainers” only in retrospect. At the time, however, they felt like little more than holy hunches. Yes, I did pray about them and weigh out the options, but in the end, it came down to something about as certain as, “If I tried to figure this out, I could go either way, but I think I feel God lightly beckoning me in this direction.” Once again, I had to choose: will I rely on the things I can see, or will I live in the unseen reality of what I feel God is laying on my heart?

Those are challenges all of us face, but how does apply to the prophet?

As I mentioned, one of the distinguishing characteristics of the prophet is his sensitivity to the heart of God and to the spiritual realities. However, one of my most difficult lessons was learning to separate that from my situation.

For example, say that I’m at a crossroads in my life, such as a career change. I’m investing a lot of time and energy thinking about this and praying about it. Meanwhile, God lays a burden on my heart. More often than not, I will interpret that in light of my prayers. “God, what are you trying to tell me about where I should go?” I’ve had to learn that God usually does not direct through those burdens. Rather, He’s saying, “Hey son, I appreciate you asking me about that, but I’d like to interrupt you with this other thing that needs your attention right now.” When I let go of my agenda and ask God what He wants, the reason for the burden becomes clear. (And God seems a whole lot less concerned about working out the details of my life than I am, maybe because He’s already got them under control!)

The other temptation is to interpret these things in light of our walk with God. Sometimes when we sense something in our spirit, we turn to God and ask, “God, what in the world have I done wrong? Have I messed up?” A friend of mine once walked into a building and thought, “You know, I feel really disconnected with God.” He began to ask the question, “What’s wrong with me that I feel disconnected?” However, he then realized, “This isn’t about me. I’m sensing something spiritual that is bringing a disconnect with God.” When he prayed about that, he felt the spiritual connection return.

Here’s the thing. The things that you experience are rarely without reason, but many times, it’s easy to look at our circumstances to figure out the reason. The truth is that we walk by faith, not by sight. It’s a process to learn what God is saying, but if you allow Him, He will gladly be your teacher!

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