I am not sure how it is for you, but for me personally, the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve have historically been rather uneventful. Neatly and quietly tucked away between some of the celebrational highlights of the year, these four days have, at times, seemed rather mundane! Nevertheless, when we look at life, it really is in the quiet, uneventful and even humdrum times that God Himself is deeply at work in us, sometimes in an almost unseen and hidden way.
All of us need a certain time of preparation. Our characters need to be honed by the Master craftsman, who knows exactly how to accomplish His purposes in us.
In the Bible we see David being prepared by God for his confrontation with Goliath in the fields of Bethlehem while tending sheep. Later, when he was being prepared for kingship, God did this by and large in hide-outs between rocks, crags and caves where David was hiding from Saul.
Moses was being prepared for leadership whilst watching his father-in-law’s herd in yet another ‘unseen’ place, for forty years! Joseph was prepared in slavery and in prison. Elisha and Joshua faithfully walked for a time in their mentor’s shadows. Paul the Apostle, who was to formulate much of foundational Christian doctrine, spent many years at Gamaliel’s feet, not having a clue what God had in mind for him. And ultimately, Jesus Himself, who had the biggest task of all, spent many quiet years - of which we hardly even know a thing!- before God moved Him to the forefront. Isn’t that amazing?
Without any doubt, God is looking for men and women of integrity, whom He can depend on, even when times get rough. He seeks to develop our character and knows that what we need is some time in a quiet place, perhaps a desert-like place even, for Him to be able to do His deepest work. As it took Him years to prepare His servants of whom we can read in the Bible, wouldn’t it make sense to expect the Lord to use the same approach for our lives? So let’s not be discouraged when we find ourselves in a time in our life, wondering what God is up to and not being entirely sure exactly what He’s doing. He may just be wanting to work within us in an extremely profound way!
Rather than being discouraged, let’s ask Him for help so we may respond to His refining in the right way. For those of us who may be facing a time of refining, a real source of inspiration can be found in a quote attributed to the French physicist / mathematician / theologian / philosopher Blaise Pascal (1623-1662): ‘Your character is who you are when no-one is looking.’ Going by that definition, in all honesty, most of us still need some more work! May God help us to press in, persevere, be patient, and come out the other end as people of indisputable integrity and unquestionable character!
Prayer: Father, forgive me if I have been fickle, and wanted You to do all things within my time frame, rather than in Yours. Please help me to persevere as I give myself to You, for You to prepare me and refine me in the ways that You see fit. Thank You that I can trust in You even when I myself might not understand what You’re doing! In Jesus’ name, Amen.