Season of Preparation

“I am preparing you,” the Lord has told me over and again. But while much of our society gets its preparation in college, graduate school, internships, residencies, and apprenticeships, I am being prepared by the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God, and in life experience. For someone with an Ivy League education who was raised to strive for a great education, a great resume, great accomplishments, and great success, the way the Lord has chosen to prepare me is anything but comfortable and familiar.

In fact, this piece of my journey is trying to say the least. Instead of sending me out to get another job, find a new relationship, search for a new hobby, or sign up for a class, the Lord is continuing His work on the condition of my heart. Quite simply, the Lord is teaching me to love. What better preparation is there, after all, for the work of ministry – or for anything else in life, for that matter – than to learn to love.

But shouldn’t I have learned this lesson long ago? Perhaps. But this isn’t an easy lesson, and He is not teaching me how to love with my own human heart. He is teaching me to love with His heart – the one He placed inside me when I was born again by placing my faith in Jesus the Christ.

In this season of preparation, the Lord is teaching me to love those I don’t want to love, to love those who are hard to love, to love those who have hurt me, to love those who are still hurting me, to love those who challenge me, to love strangers, to love friends, to love in challenging situations, to love even while I walk through the refining fire, to love when I don’t get what I want, to love Him, to love people, to love the animals He has created, and even to love myself. He is also teaching me to be loved, by Him and by others – to receive love. Without His love flowing into and through me, how can I love others with His love?

Well, shouldn’t that be easy for me by now? No, not with my history. It wasn’t so long ago that the Lord took me into the wilderness to take the hardness off my heart. My heart was so clogged up with sin and has become so hardened over such a long period of time that His love couldn’t possibly flow through my heart to reach the world around me.

But just like people who undergo heart surgery only to need follow-up surgery, I needed follow-up help. My heart was no longer hardened, for the most part anyway, but now I had no idea whatsoever how to let His love flow continually through – or through at all.

If love were only a word, if love were merely about saying, “I love you,” my season of preparation would be short. But not so. This lesson is so vital to the rest of my life, to my very existence, and to all that the Lord will call me to do and be on this earth, that He is taking His time with me.

Study. Lessons. Tests. Chastening. Repentance. More confession. More study. Lessons. Tears. Tears. Frustration. Stress. Ouch. This is hard! But I cannot imagine my life without this season of preparation. Each time I try in desperation to yank myself out of this season of my life, I find myself right back in it where I belong.

What good would the rest of my life be without loving the way the Lord has called me to love? Oh sure, I could return to the days of striving regarding my education, resume, accomplishments, and success. But I would look back at my life one day and see a whole list of accomplishments and a heart that had failed.

Instead, God so graciously has given me this season to learn this lesson of loving with His love. Hard? Yes. But truly incredible. So incredible, in fact, that I encourage others to join me on this high road to learning to love God’s way.

Ecc 3:1  To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 
Ecc 3:2  A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 
Ecc 3:3  A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 
Ecc 3:4  A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 
Ecc 3:5  A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 
Ecc 3:6  A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 
Ecc 3:7  A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 
Ecc 3:8  A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. 

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