Lonely Times of Preparation

“Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” (1 Kings 17:3-4)

When God called for a famine on the land, He sent Elijah to a remote creek to be fed by the ravens. Agrarian cultures like Israel feared famines the most, but God sent Elijah ahead to an unlikely place to take care of him. God moved Elijah around a lot; in fact, most of his life was spent in preparation for something God wanted him to do down the road.

God does not waste time with us. Most people seek a change when the going gets rough. But muscles that are not exercised cannot grow strong. God in His infinite wisdom, knows where you will be a few years from now, and must prepare you for the task. Athletes talk about the lonely hours of training, as they repeat endless cycles of rigorous workouts in order to arrive at the contest primed and ready for action. No concert pianist arrives at a grand performance with only a few hours of preparation. He or she practices for months so that they will peak at just the right time. God has called us to something, and loves us enough to prepare us.

In addition to not wasting our time, God prepares us for specific callings in life. For some, it will be visible and public, while others will serve Him in the background. But make no mistake: both need preparation, and only God knows how much. Each calling requires specific training. God shapes and molds us to prepare us for the roles He ordained us to fulfill.

We spend most of life looking forward to something that can work for us, especially when we recognize our current season of preparation will lead us to success down the road. When God calls us to do something for Him, He doesn’t send us out ill-prepared. Before He sent Joshua to conquer the land of Canaan, He first had him wait on Moses, serving as his assistant. All of Jesus’ disciples spent time with Him, learning valuable truths for the task ahead. As we ponder the value of spiritual preparation, let’s consider three truths:

1. No time is wasted in sharpening your tools.
So often people want to rush to the battle lines ill-prepared. They rush into the adult arena with a kindergarten education. They want to begin at the big league level and skip spring training altogether. Give God the time He requires to shape us to be the person He designed us to be.

2. We won’t know exactly what He’s called us to until we get there.
From a human perspective, we will face many “surprises” in life. We might declare, “I wasn’t prepared for this!”

Think again.

Only God knew where we would be and what we would do. Then we will look back and say, “God knew exactly what He was doing.” He took the time to prepare us for what we could never have done without preparation.

3. Make the most of lonely times.
Sometimes God places us in the public arena to perform some function that will make a difference. At other times, He sets us aside for prolonged training in order to prepare us for something greater. We should capitalize on the times set aside for preparation. From a spiritual standpoint, God takes our entire life to prepare us for heaven. We need to learn our lessons well, including times of chastisement, when God disciplines us for our good. How can we encourage a suffering saint if we never suffer ourselves? When we suffer, we can comfort them with the same comfort that we received (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

May God show us the wisdom of submitting to His will in all things, and not to despise those seasons He sets aside preparing us.

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