Nothing New Under the Sun
“There’s nothing new under the sun.”
How many times do you think you’ve heard that phrase in your lifetime thus far – or even said it to yourself as a means of encouragement during a rough patch?
I know I have. If you are a “creative”, you probably can relate.
Back when I accepted Jesus as my Savior I was 18 years old. It was a tumultuous time in my life, to say the least. I was looking for answers. I was in need of a Heavenly Father, and when I felt as low as I could feel, He scooped me and my messed up life into His arms, and He hasn’t put me down since.
I’ve walked nearly 20 years with Him, and, while I am thankful for each day and wouldn’t change anything in my story, I can honestly tell you that it has rarely matched up with my expectations. The hard parts have been hard, and the good parts have been beautiful and far beyond what I ever dreamed I could deserve. Either way, it’s all beyond anything I could have anticipated. Isn’t that life? We learn very quickly that it twists and turns, and you have to take it all in stride with gratitude and grit… with humility and grace…
We, as Christians, take Him by the hand and say, “Lead me, Lord. I will go,” and we go. One foot in front of the other, we walk out the gift of our days alongside the gifts that are our people, and we learn to trust Him, regardless of expectations.
So, I did that as an 18 year old. I took His hand and I went. I went to a Bible college located 17 hours away from my little town. I chased revival, because I wanted to be in His presence. I had just met my Heavenly Father for the first time, it seemed, and I wanted nothing more than to saturate my life with His presence and whatever else He had in store for me.
It was during that time in that wonderful place that I began to dream and seek direction for my life. I would have literal dreams at night of myself speaking to small crowds of women about life, about trust, about perseverance… I was older in my dreams but not much older than I am now. It was as if I saw my future self and was a member of my own audience – able to appreciate the wisdom that I had gained over the years of walking hand-in-hand with my Lord, and that excited me.
Those dreams have carried me a long way. I have had the sweet pleasure of experiencing confirmation of His promises in other ways since – through prophetic words, during my quiet times with Him in prayer, through conversations with trusted friends and my husband, and random comments and e-mails from total strangers… I can see that He’s continually working in my life, and while I can’t fully see a finished picture, I know it’s progress.
One thing that has been especially difficult for me over these years has been that little phrase I opened this post with – “There’s nothing new under the sun…” You see, in the blogging world, we tell ourselves that when another writer voices our ideas first. Often times, it’s genuine and serves as confirmation that we are on the same page with Holy Spirit. But I have learned through honest conversation with others in my field that some bloggers have a practice of scanning posts and content for ideas and then writing about them. They watch trends and topics. They have their feelers out 24/7, and they can work the business like straight up geniuses. Unfortunately for me and my bank account (lol), I write what’s on my heart, when it’s on my heart, and it hasn’t paid the bills quite yet. But I can’t do it any other way. And so, in the past when my ideas have been found elsewhere, I have given myself that dose of “well, there’s nothing new” and move on.
The same thing has happened with some pretty serious life goals and dreams. I have confided in people in the past about my heart for women’s ministry and the boutique/cafe (which it’s not a huge secret) I dream to have one day, only to watch my dreams come to pass in their lives instead. That’s hard. Real hard. It is even harder when those same people knew my heart so well and it was if those conversations never even happened when their opportunities arose. There’s no magic phrase to help with those times, and I’ve learned through those hits that you lean into the Lord the hardest when you feel like the wind has been knocked out of your life’s sails.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
No Room At the Inn
During those times of disappointment and impatience with my story, I turn to my Father. I complained – a lot. I cried out to Him, “But Lord! This is MY dream for my life. These are the plans that YOU’VE put on my soul! How could they exclude me? How come it’s not my turn?” And I complained to Him like crazy. I’m sure if I could have seen His face, He would have been shaking His head at me.
And you know what He showed me?
“No room at the inn.”
And it all started to make sense.
Yes, I know that there was actually not an “inn”, like a motel of sorts. Joseph and Mary most-likely went to a relative’s home in Bethlehem to stay in the guest quarters, but for whatever reason had to remain outside or beneath the home…
But the point I knew that He was allowing me to see had everything to do with expectation.
Mary and Joseph came a long way, carrying a promise (Jesus). They trusted God and knew that whatever He said would be, would be. But I imagine that when they went to that home, Mary full of promise, literally, with Jesus very close to being born, they probably had expectations as to what the birth of their promise would look like. Perhaps their expectations looked a little like this:
1 – Inside and comfortable where they could feel secure and safe surrounded by familiarity.
But this was not the case. Their promise was delivered outside, alone, without any significant human audience or attention. Loneliness and vulnerability marked her greatest moments, but maybe that’s right where the Lord needs us – fully relying on Him and not man. Maybe outside of the inn, outside of our expectation, is where He has our complete attention and where we can see Him clearest.
2 – Met with excitement and acceptance.
Again, not the case. We don’t know if the rejection came with explanation and kindness or if it was callous, but we know that rejection hurts, even if is accompanied with a smile. When expectations are met with disappointment, it’s the perfect opportunity for the enemy to creep in with his lies. But, we don’t see that with Mary. Instead, we see a picture of a woman whose heart is fixed on God’s word and His promise to her. Regardless of the delivery and what her circumstances looked like, we are given a picture of peace and grace and favor. It’s a beautiful depiction of what it looks like to trust God no matter what the situation looks like at face value.
Contend For Your Promise Outside of the Inn
And this is when I knew that He was telling me that my promises weren’t going to be found in the inn. They aren’t going to fit any molds that my imagination has conjured. They may come to fruition in the cold and in the muck. They may come when I am vulnerable and feeling insecure. The opportunities may arise when I least expect them too and without a single nod of recognition.
But they’ll come. I’ve just got to hold His hand and keep walking. Keep trusting. Keep speaking into those promises, because He is faithful.
So, after that conversation with God, I resolved to contend for my promises outside of the inn. I know He will meet me there – outside in the lonely place, where I feel uneasy and exposed. I know He will find me faithfully awaiting Him in the stillness, in the open, standing in awe of His majesty and power. I know I will find Him where I least expect it. It may not look like I wanted it to; my dreams may not be fulfilled in the timing that I had anticipated, but it will be just as it should be. I only need to take my gaze off of the closed doors and turn around. Hand-in-hand, I will walk with Him to a lowly place of gratitude and servanthood and face the waiting with grit and grace, peace and perseverance, humility and hope.
Contend for your promises outside of the inns in your life, friends. Just because things may not look as you thought they would doesn’t make God any less faithful. He is always faithful and His words are true.