When I was a freshman in college, my roommate and I somehow stumbled across a taste-testing opportunity that would give us the chance to make a little extra cash. I absolutely cannot stomach even the thought of breakfast burritos, so naturally that is what I ended up having to taste! Basically, what the taste-test entailed was trying the burrito, then sitting around a table with other taste-testers and critiquing the burrito. We each had to point out things wrong with the breakfast burrito so that Burger King could make corrections before possibly adding the item to their menu. Yes, those critiques probably were not always easy to hear and I’m sure they stung the pride in some of the inventors, but through multiple taste tests and criticisms, we were essentially helping Burger King succeed.
I once stumbled across a quote that said, “God sometimes takes us into troubled waters, not to drown us but to cleanse us.”
A few months ago, my husband and I got a puppy. Bath time for our puppy, Abe, can be very eventful. All we want to do is clean him but he often splashes and resists our good intentions. Our intentions are not to drown him, but to simply give him a bath and clean him up.
I have recently gone through a period of troubled waters where I spent a lot of my time resisting the cleansing God was trying to give me. After building a life 8 hours away for the past three years, I found myself in a new place. I wanted to hold on so tight and fight the changes that came, from a new church to a new job to new friendships and everything in between. God was giving me a taste test and instead of letting the trials and critiques work to help me succeed in my situation and faith, I fought and splashed and held on to my own ideas instead of letting myself be held and fought for, critiqued and taught.
After much patience from the Lord, my heart and my mind finally began to slowly let go and let Him work. I want to share with you a few of the truths God has faithfully taught me (through His Word, the First 5 App, church, God Is Able, Fervent, mentors, and quiet, alone time spent with Him) during this season of troubled waters.
- The devil may win once, but he doesn’t have to win twice. By turning our mess into a message and sharing our mistakes and hurts, we fight back and the devil doesn’t get the final say. I have shared things over the past couple of months that the devil told me I should just keep to myself. It has been so awesome to see God work through my test and turn it into my testimony. 2 Timothy 1:8
- When the devil (the father of lies, John 8:44) gets a foothold in our hearts, we must cling to what we know to be true. The devil has the ability to amplify our fears, distractions, doubts, and hurts. No matter what others have said, truth and stability can only be found in the Word of our unchanging God. Isaiah 40:8
- It’s not about being right- it’s about having a right relationship with Jesus! People may never get the chance to hear your side of the story, but if we let the devil keep our minds focused on being right or on how we were wronged, our hearts will never be in a place that puts us in right relationship with Jesus. Focusing on being right will also hinder us from seeing our own faults. Our relationship with Jesus hinges on our relationship with others, and our ability to sincerely worship Him hinges on our right relationship with others. Matthew 5:23-24.
- God disciplines those He loves and it doesn’t feel good! I have found a lot of comfort and strength in Hebrews 12:11. I may be hurting now, but it will be worth it. The pruning process is painful. John 15:2
- The devil knows a good thing when he sees it and he comes to steal, kill, and destroy it. John 10:10
- Jesus understands. Hebrews 4:15
- Above ALL else guard your heart for everything you do flows from it. No matter what, whatever that looks like – it’s that important! Proverbs 4:23
- He is Able! Ephesians 3:20-21 But God is also sovereign! Romans 8:28
- Our battle is not against flesh and blood. Ephesians 6:12
- God’s love is greater than life! Psalm 63:3
- “The devil doesn’t come dressed in a red cape and pointy horns, he comes dressed as everything you’ve ever wanted.” He will tempt you to put the gift above the Gift Giver, the created above the Creator, and our God is a jealous God. Exodus 34:14
- Although there were many nights my mind wouldn’t shut off, God’s mercies were always new every morning. Joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5, Lamentations 3:22-23
- God’s grace is amazing and it’s enough! Grace means that all of your mistakes now serve a purpose instead of serving as shame. 2 Corinthians 12:9
- Our momentary troubles are temporary. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
- God is faithful and never changing. It’s important that we wrap our heart around the consistency of His character rather than the inconsistency of our circumstances. Hebrews 10:23, Hebrews 13:8
- Even when we feel weak, prayer is still powerful! The power of prayer is in the One who hears it and not in the one who says it! Psalm 107:28-31
- Being tested is not a bad thing! God tests the righteous. Psalm 11:5.
I am in no way completely clean and I never will be until I reach Heaven. Hurts don’t just go away and pain still comes at unexpected times. My heart will always have a few dark places where the devil is working to get a foothold. But through this period of troubled waters, I have been able to see two things more clearly: the intentional, behind the scenes, schematic plans of the devil are very real but the love, consistency, and faithfulness of God always wins!