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I want to share some of the lessons that God taught me while Bret Wade and myself were on a missions trip to India. I hope that these will be a blessing to you.
This last lesson was not fun to learn, but it is something we need to know and understand if we want to be serious players with God in furthering His plans and purposes.
Lesson - We Have Only Done Our Duty
It had been a very powerful trip and a great deal of kingdom work was accomplished. I sort of expected God would reward us for our work by protecting us and giving us a very smooth and uneventful trip home. But God had other ideas.
He brought me to Luke 17:7-10, which says:
- "Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, `Come along now and sit down to eat'?
- Would he not rather say, `Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink'?
- Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?
- So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, `We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'"
Then God told me that I had merely done what was expected of me. Over and over during the past years I had prayed and asked God to send me. So when He answered the prayer and sent me, I should not expect special treatment or a special reward for doing what He sent me to do. The teaching, the salvations, the signs and wonders and heals all just fall under the auspices of "doing my job." God does not promise to protect us from all hardships or spiritual warfare counter attacks. These come with the territory. The more we get in the think of things, of advancing His kingdom with Him, the more we get in the center of the warfare.
Then God began to review some of the great one's He had sent. He had me look at Paul. God used him very powerfully. But Paul experienced all sorts of spiritual warfare counter attacks.. he was stoned, beaten, shipwrecked, arrested and riots were even incited against him. The early church faced great persecution and many were asked to lay down their lives as martyrs. God used and empowered His people, but He certainly did not protect them from every inconvenience or hardship.
Then God asked me, now that I understand how it works, did I still want to be His servant, did I still want Him to send me? I swallowed deeply, thought about it for a few minutes and then replied, "Yes, Lord."
When we started our trip home, the Lord told me that the power anointing had lifted and now we were under "grace" for our return trip home. I was not sure what grace meant, but I hoped it meant that God was going to give us a smooth and uneventful trip home anyhow.
But it did not work that way. It was a three hour taxi ride to the train station. Once we got there, the train was very late and we had to stand on the platform in the hot sun and wait a very long time for our train. For some reason, that exhausted me. Once the train arrived, we went to our assigned seats to find that there had been a mess-up in our seating. Also, someone had used the luggage space under our seats, which was supposed to reserved for us. So we had no convenient place to put our luggage. Everything about the train ride was chaotic and uncomfortable. We had a sleeper car, but I could not sleep on the train. The ride seemed to take forever. 13 hours later, we finally arrived at our destination and took a taxi to our hotel.
We had prepaid reservations to arrive at 7:00 AM and had paid for 24 hours even though we could only use it for 12 hours until it was time to depart for the airport. When we arrived, there had been a mess up and our rooms were not ready. We were asked to wait for half an hour and we would be given the next available rooms. About 20 minutes later, a large group came in and they were immediately given rooms.. at least they were given 8 of the 10 rooms they requested. We had been waiting about 45 minutes when God spoke to me. He told me that if I did not go up to the desk and firmly insist on getting our rooms, we would not get them at all. I suggested to God that He have Sharath do this. God told me that Sharath could not do it because he was Indian and they would ignore him. Rather, a westerner had to become insistent. So I reluctantly got up and went to the desk. They tried to brush me off several times. I continued to be insistent and a bit firm, as God had told me to. Finally they gave us one room and told me the other would not be available until 10:00 AM, three hours after we arrived. God said not to leave the desk until I got the second room, or I would not get it. They finally found a room that would be ready at 8:30 AM and promised they would give it to me. I asked for the room number and they told me which room it was. Breakfast ended at 8:30, and breakfast came free with our rooms. So I figured we better put our luggage in one room and then go eat.. it was 8:15 already. Then I could come back to the desk to get my room key. We got back to the desk about 8:45. They had given my room to someone else.. I should have listened to God when he told me not to leave the desk until I got the room. Another 20 minutes at the desk and they said room 320 was being cleaned and would be ready in another half hour. I said that I was not willing to wait, and I wanted to go to the room even while it was being cleaned. So I signed in and they had a bell boy take me to the room. As we walked up, the cleaning lady walked out and said the room was almost ready.. she just needed to change the sheets. I stood in the hallway outside of the room for about one minute waiting for her to finish up. Suddenly another bell boy walked up with two men and said that they were to be given this room. I snatched the room key from the door and said, "I have already signed in for this room and I have already paid for it and I have the key, so I am keeping the room." I could not believe how hard I had to fight for my prepaid room. I could not see how this was "grace" .. it seemed more like the enemy harassment in every little thing.
When we got to the airport, things continued to go wrong. I was bumped, stepped on (to the point where it really hurt) and jostled more times than I could count. My seat broke two hours into the 16 hour flight (a 6 hour leg followed by a 10 hour leg) and a piece of metal kept sticking in to my legs and was very uncomfortable. The flight felt like torment, but I found a few ways to "adjust" and get a bit less uncomfortable as the trip progressed. I tried to sleep but was too uncomfortable. I tried to pray, but was too miserable to concentrate. Nearby babies were screaming and crying the whole trip. The man behind me kept leaning over my seat and sneezing on my hair, and I had to wipe it off with a tissue. It was probably the most uncomfortable flight I've ever had. To make matters worse, I had to take my malaria pill just before we took off, and it made me sick to my stomach.
I did have one effective prayer time during that flight for about 20 minutes. I asked God what happened to this "grace" He had promised me. He said that grace was not the absence of inconvenience, but a supernatural empowerment to deal with the problems in God's way.
The flight was made an hour longer because we could not land right away. We had to circle for half an hour and then wait another half hour on the runway until our gate was available. When we finally disembarked from the plane, I wanted to scream "Hallelujah!" But by the time we cleared customs, I had developed a sore throat and by the time we got home from the airport, I had a full pledged chest cold. I was sick and bedridden the next 5 days.
I wondered why God would heal all of those people in India and then let me rot in bed with a bad cold. Why wouldn't He heal me too? So I asked Him about it. He told met that spiritual warfare comes with the territory, so get used to it. I ended up deciding that I was not thrilled with the hardships and inconveniences, but I was willing to put up with them to move with God in His power and anointing. Then God told me, "It does not feel like it to you at the moment, but you've had a promotion."
I mentioned that to Bret later on during the week. Bret quoted the scripture, "You must through many tribulations enter the kingdom." He said, "Tribulation is the door to enter into moving in God's power and authority. Most avoid it. It is how we respond that makes all the difference."
The truth of the matter is that God's power an anointing are available to anyone who is willing to commit to Him and serve Him on His terms, to do it His way. But God has an equation we must follow to see that power and anointing in our own lives.
power = tribulation + willingness and good attitude + faithIt was not a fun lesson to learn, but it is an important one. If we want to do with the Father what He is doing in His power and anointing, we can! But it will thrust us into the midst of a spiritual battle zone, because the enemy is actively resiting God's kingdom advancing. This means there are times when we will take hits, times when the Father will allow us to be inconvenienced or suffer a bit of discomfort. It comes with the territory of moving in His power and authority, so we better "get used to it." Someone once described the spiritual warfare this way, "There is a 'price to pay' for moving in the anointing. If we are not welling to pay it, then we won't be given the anointing..." or more simply, "God won't let you play unless you are willing to pay..."
I encourage you to count the cost and then earnestly desire His anointing... it is awesome to move with Him in His power and anointing. It is well worth the inconveniences of any spiritual warfare and enemy counter attacks.