God Sees the Bigger Picture| By Christna Stubbs

For the past two years, I have been waiting on God to intervene on my behalf in a particular situation. It has been an emotional journey walking through this process. I remember thinking during most of 2019 that if I could just overcome this giant, I could move on with my life and finally do what I knew God had called me to do. 

If what I was going through emotionally at the time was not enough, I fell ill and began to struggle physically. At this point, I had had enough. I had already been grappling with emotional turmoil over the past two years and now, on top of all of that, there came a physical battle that I had to fight in my body. On the outside, I appeared healthy to everyone, but everyday, I was in constant pain and discomfort, not understanding why I had to face something like this. 

In the midst of my emotional and physical pain, I constantly asked God the age old question: “Why?” “Why is this happening to me now God”? Why does it seem like I can’t catch a break? Why doesn’t my life make sense anymore? Why am I struggling with a health issue when I should be enjoying my youth?” 

My vision of the future that I once dreamt about was now a blurry mess! I could not see through the fog; my pain and suffering just felt too real. I would wake up every day feeling numb. The pain, the confusion, and the uncertainty was overwhelming. 

I remember one particular day in the midst of my pain, I had been asking God why He never allowed me to see what I had been praying for. I thought to myself, “It’s been two years God, why haven’t you intervened already?” Aren’t you supposed to answer the cries of your people? Aren’t you a good, good Father?” 

The prayer requests I had were all things that He had promised me, but it just seemed like it would NEVER happen. At that moment though, I felt the Holy Spirit speak gently to my heart. 

In the sweetest voice, I heard “If I had given you the breakthrough you prayed for, you would not be able to handle it”. 

You see, if God had given me what I had been praying for, it would have required me to move to the other side of the world. I would have endured my illness in a forgeign country, alone, away from my family. I knew within myself that it would have been much harder to walk through a season of sickness without the support of my family, and the recovery would have been much more gruelling. 

I believe without a shadow of a doubt that God already knew this. In His love and mercy, He held off from opening a door because He knew that I would not be ready for what was to come, no matter how ready I thought I was. 

I chose to share my story because I realize that oftentimes, we only see a mere speck on the painting of our lives. We are looking at a small stroke, and we try to make sense of it, when God already has a full view of the portrait. When we are walking through a season of delay or difficulty, it is easy for us to focus so closely on what is in front of us that we forget that God already knows our end from the beginning.We might only have a limited view and understanding of everything that takes place in our lives, but God sees everything. He sees the bigger picture, and we can trust that everything that He has planned for us will be good because He is a good Father. 

I pray that as you read my story, you can find comfort in this truth that God sees the bigger picture of your life. You may have been praying for something for years and because it has yet to happen, you have lost hope. Or, you may have expected your current circumstances to look a lot different than they do right now. Whatever it is that you are facing, remember that God sees everything. He already knows what is going to happen. He knows why you are where you are now, and He knows where you are going. I believe with all my heart that once we trust in Him, we can rest assured that the bigger picture that He is painting is much more beautiful than we can ever imagine. 

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT)

A Dwindling Prayer Life| By Jasmine Beard

“Now I lay me down to sleep

I pray Thee Lord, my soul to keep

If I should die before I wake

I pray Thee Lord, my soul to take

If I should live for other days

I pray Thee Lord, to guide my ways

Amen”

This was my first encounter with prayer. When I was a little girl, my aunt bought me a stuffed animal that had a recording of this prayer in it when you pressed its paw.

Every night I would hop into bed, tuck my head underneath my covers and whisper this prayer to God. God was not someone I really knew or even knew much about, but I believed. I believed He existed, and I really enjoyed saying this prayer to Him each night.

Years went on, and I slowly forgot about my stuffed animal and the little prayer I said to God each night. As I approached teenage years, my prayers were as if I was wishing at a wishing well, rather than having an intimate conversation with my Heavenly Father.

This all changed when I was confronted with my sin and the love of Jesus Christ at a summer camp at the age of 15. I opened up and told God the whole truth – how I had sinned and how I was so in need of a redeemer like Him. He was gracious and gladly welcomed me into a relationship with Him as He does for all of His wayward children. I dove deep into His word and deep into conversation with Him.

But over the years, I would go through highs, lows, and even lulls in my prayer life with God.

In 2018, I found that I was fed up with the highs and lows of my prayer life and dove into simply asking God, “what is prayer?”

Webster defines it as, “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.”

As you can imagine, this definition did not help me much. I was looking for a Holy Ghost answer, something that would knock me over and leave my prayer life never the same.

To my surprise, God showed me what prayer is not.

Firstly, Prayer is not regurgitation.

We learn this from Jesus himself in Matthew 6:7-8 (NLT)

7 “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.

8 Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!     

Secondly, I learned that Prayer cannot be paired with unbelief,

“I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.” Matthew 11:24-24 (NLT)

Lastly, I learned that Prayer is not for show,

“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” Matthew 6:5-6 (NLT)

After the Holy Spirit showed me what prayer is not, He compared a believer’s prayer life to intimacy within a marriage. He showed me that just like a marriage cannot thrive or be sustained without intimacy, neither can a Christian’s life/walk with God thrive or be sustained with the absence of prayer.

We are already one with God, but prayer is the continuation and sustainability of our marriage with God. I do not know about you, but I would not want to be in a relationship or marriage with a man who does not talk to me.

Just like intimacy in marriage must be paired with vulnerability and exposure, so should our prayer life be with God. We must learn to get naked before the Lord. Take off the masks, the church lingo, religious speech, and lies before Him.

Our Heavenly Father sees all things and knows all things. We do not have to cover up our heart, our hurts, questions, or disappointments when we come to talk to Him. He actually welcomes all of our concerns and longs to change our way of thinking, our hearts, and our circumstances.

Maybe you find that your prayer life is in one of the three categories I mentioned above. Trust me; I have been there. However, this is not where your conversation with God has to stay.

Today, I want to encourage you to just get real with God about everything. Do not be afraid or allow the enemy to tell you that God does not care about your situation. Your Heavenly Father longs for intimacy and closeness with you. He is not looking for you to have the right things to say, but for you to leave nothing unexposed before Him.

“The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth.” Psalms 145:18 (NLT)