We have a mental checklist for life. Happy marriage: check. Healthy kids: check. Good reputation: check. Great job: check. Enough money: check. All the pieces are lining up. But then tragedy strikes: The bottom falls out on your finances; you get breast cancer; your spouse dies; or, in my case, you learn that your son was born with a brain injury.
It’s in these times that we can relate with Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, whose life was also hit with tragedy: because of a famine she was forced to move to a foreign land, her husband dies, and then both of her sons die (Ruth 1:3–5). It’s easy to see why Naomi felt bitter toward God (Ruth 1:20–21).
I heartily proclaim “God is good” when circumstances are good. When I think God is producing the outcome I desire, I am pleased. But how should I react when my prayers seem to go unanswered? When I, like Naomi, feel as though God has turned his back on me? Is he still good? Does he hear my prayers for my son? Where can I find comfort?
There are times I am tempted to blame God for the condition of my son. I feel wronged. (What possible good could this serve?) And then he reproves me: “ ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts ” (Isa 55:8–9 NIV).
I’ve struggled and wrestled with this. I’ve even been angry and brokenhearted. One hand pushes away from God while the other hand reaches for him. Like Paul, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do” (Rom 7:15). I am torn. “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out” (Rom 7:18).
But then, God’s Word comes with power and pierces through my emotions. I realize that God is “my refuge and my shield.” I echo what the Psalmist proclaimed: “I have put my hope in your word” (Psa 119:114).
Maintaining that hope is difficult. I am tempted to despair. My son may never walk or talk, and he is likely nearly blind. The mountains that loom ahead overwhelm me. I feel like I cannot climb them. Then, I’m reminded: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9).
I still ask, though, is this how God rewards those who follow Him? Where is his loving-kindness? He returns with, “Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange was happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Pet 4:12–13).
When I am tired of the battle, Christ comforts me with his presence. “Never will I leave you,” he says, “never will I forsake you” (Heb 13:5). As Paul persists, “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Cor 4:16–17).
Every time we wrestle with God, we can find solace in his Word. For this reason, I say with David, “My soul melts away for sorrow.” I press on, knowing that he will “strengthen me according to (His) word” (Psa 119:28).
KARA DEDERT ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN BIBLE STUDY MAGAZINE SEPT–OCT’10 BIBLICAL REFERENCES FROM NIV
The Lord has been speaking to me for a while now about the perfect alignment that He is doing within the body of Christ.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (Ps. 23:6, MEV).
The word “alignment” has, as of late, been overused, understated, and, at times, given very wrong context. I will not move from the position of Him being the best thing that I have ever known, and because of what Jesus has done, I have no need to fear anything; His goodness and mercy will overtake me in my life. Thus, it is important to note that the goodness of God and the mercy of God are the foundation from which I speak of “alignment.”
In 2017, my husband and I were living in South Carolina, in the USA, and happened to be in the exact line of totality for the solar eclipse that year. I have never experienced anything like it in the natural.
In the 5-10 minutes leading up to totality, the bugs were marching in circles in the grass at our feet. Birds were dive-bombing trees in excitement. Dogs were barking and leaping around in the park where we watched. As darkness began to close in just before the perfect totality, cicadas began to sing a stunning melody and birds were in tune with even the cicadas.
In the seconds just before totality, it felt as if everyone held their breath until that wonderful moment. Then, as the moon covered the sun, I felt the earth and time itself standstill. There was an eerie stillness on the earth as everything got quiet; then, literally, every person around us took a giant, collective gasp at its beauty. I was in tears and overwhelmed at the goodness of Father God in that moment. Complete, perfect alignment… it was magnificent.
Yet to see this glorious sight, we had to be looking up. In fact, it was SO glorious that we needed special glasses to see it so that we weren’t burned by the power of the alignment.
Being on Facebook after the eclipse, I saw how even my atheist friends made comments about believing in a higher power after seeing the eclipse. They saw the awe, wonder, and beauty of this perfect alignment in the sky, which caused them to truly SEE God. It was as if something inside of them was awakened to burning for His wild love for themselves.
I believe that this is exactly what is happening with the church right now. Perfect alignment to His goodness, mercy and love will cause many to look up, in awe and wonder, and see the beautiful Father… to truly see our wonderful Jesus.
Just as we needed glasses to be able to safely watch the solar eclipse, we need the Holy Spirit’s help to receive the glory and love that He wants us to carry after He has lavished it upon us, His beloved. We must lean into the Holy Spirit like never before, and we must allow Him to bring our hearts and minds into perfect alignment with His so that we can accept this love and carry what He needs us to carry into 2022. We must look up and lean into His alignment and into His love. We must surrender to the alignment, even if it hurts.
Leaning into Alignment
I recently have had ongoing visions where I am free-falling backward into the fire. In every vision, I find myself on a high cliff and cannot find a way down myself so I HAVE to jump. I have to trust. I have to just jump in, regardless of how painful it may seem to be. And in every vision, every time I lean into that free fall, I am filled with so much power, love, and satisfaction that I come out of the vision longing for more of Him… more love, more connection, more encounter, more Jesus. In fact, in one of these visions, I actually saw that my act of obedience of leaning into this fire caused many sinners to run to the altar in repentance. I believe that this will happen in the coming days as more people lean in.
The safest place is IN the fire. We have the ability to choose to not be “feeble in heart” ever again (Song 3:4, TPT). We are able to stand in the fire, courageously, and fully surrender to His lordship in our lives. And we are radiant and strengthened when we come out of the fire, if we have continued to surrender and lookup. We will shine and glow with a wild love that will be unquenchable!
“Fasten me upon your heart as a seal of fire forevermore. This living, consuming flame will seal you as my prisoner of love. My passion is stronger than the chains of death and the grave, all-consuming as the very flashes of fire from the burning heart of God. Place this fierce, unrelenting fire over your entire being. Rivers of pain and persecution will never extinguish this flame. Endless floods will be unable to quench this raging fire that burns within you. Everything will be consumed. It will stop at nothing as you yield everything to this furious fire until it won’t even seem to you like a sacrifice anymore” (Song 8:6-7 [italics mine]).
The alignment of fire means that we are refined as gold, walking and talking representatives of the glory of God. Much like the alignment of the sun and moon during the 2017 solar eclipse, people will look at you with awe and wonder and be reminded of the Creator.
We definitely need special help from the Holy Spirit to comprehend His great, wild love. He is desiring to pour it out on us. It will be so weighty and other-worldly that we will not be able to handle it! Thus, we must lean back and do a free fall into the fire of alignment so that we can stand when He pours out the magnitude of goodness that He is longing to flood us with.
“But who can endure the day of His coming, and who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years” (Mal. 3:2-4).
Awakened and Aligned
This is an important time in history in which many things are shaking the church awake. I believe there will be a time when, like the solar eclipse, humanity will gasp in awe at the beauty of the church, as (by faith) she becomes fully aware of who she is, and that she is in full and perfect alignment to the Father’s heartbeat. We will be so aligned to His heart that we will operate from the position of accepting the invite to be overtaken by the goodness of God and therefore desiring to dwell in His presence more than anything else (Ps. 23:6).
People will be in awe of the church as she rises up into her place. She will be so glorious in these coming days that even those who do not know our God will be drawn to Him. She will be the very thing of beauty that makes man rethink where he stands with God. They will hunger and thirst for the wild love that they see in the church. She will not bring condemnation but salvation and transformation, because as she rises up, carrying the Spirit of the Living God within her, Jesus will be lifted up and He promises He will draw all men unto Himself (John 12:32). She will be so perfectly aligned to Him that she will burn for intimacy with her Jesus and, like a mirror, she will shine the glory of God to the nations.
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18, NKJV).
Oh Father, so be it! Align us with Your heartbeat. Give us the strength to lean into the fire. Help us to stand under the weight of Your love. Give us the grace to take Your invitation—to allow You to OVERCOME us with Your goodness and mercy!
Mandy Woodhouse is a wife, a published author, a speaker, an evangelist, and a teacher. Originally from Louisiana, she and her Australian husband are the heads of Evangelism and Discipleship at Glory City Church in Brisbane, Australia, and they both sit on the Queensland Prophetic Council. Mandy has a strong gift of exhortation and a love for the Word of God. She lives to use her prophetic voice, creative teaching style and her writing skills to impart hope and to awaken true, righteous identity in the body of Christ, across the globe, while always pointing to Jesus.
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