By Brittani Garner
It took me a long time to realize that just like in nature, God tends to each of our hearts in seasons. What we see now is not going to be forever. Each season in life has a specific purpose, and it all leads to becoming the person He has created and called us to be. Sometimes we are hidden, sometimes we are leading the charge, other times we’re deep in the valley or in the wilderness, sometimes we’re on top of the mountain, and then there are times we may find ourselves somewhere in between. What God has been highlighting to me so far in this season, is that there are also times set apart for transition in our lives, and oftentimes they are intentional seasons of testing.
My heart is intent on ministry. I get to lead and love people very easily by being married to a pastor and it’s absolutely amazing. However, I am also personally called to worship ministry. And for the last five years, God has been hiding me in various ways from that very thing. In the midst of these years in ministry, I have been rejected by people I considered friends and family, and by people I thought I looked up to. I have had death spoken over me, lies spoken about me, and have had people that I left my home to serve and build community with gossip, slander and even openly declare their negative thoughts about me.
I’ve had opportunities arise time and time again and yet be completely looked over. And I’ve had people significantly younger than me with their whole lives ahead of them, get opportunity to walk in their calling as worshippers which is stunning, but all the while I just sat there. I sat there rejected, feeling like I did something wrong, feeling like I was being punished by God. But instead, He was only protecting me, shaping me, and molding me.
Outside of ministry, I worked at a job I hated to do, six days a week, 10 hours a day, to then have to put a smile on at church every Sunday while being excruciatingly exhausted. And still, I would have to stand strong for everybody else that looked to me to lean on. I felt alone, misunderstood, labeled, put in a box, forgotten, and in a fishbowl for all to see and to judge why I would or wouldn’t meet their expectation, because I just simply had nothing to give sometimes.
Although I was elated for my husband, if I can be honest here, I often thought, “What about me and my calling? I’m already here serving in the church. Why does being a pastor’s wife mean that I can’t also walk in the very thing God designed me for?” And in the midst of it all, including the struggles I faced in my personal life, married life, family life and work life, I had to rise to every standard and every occasion. While I would lift heavy hands in worship, I had to choose to trust that this weight would someday lead me to good things He had planned for me.
Fast forward to who I am today, greatly because of the waiting with trials I endured, and I couldn’t be more thankful for everything I walked through. There is an identity, a humble confidence, and wisdom that I gained through that season that I wouldn’t want to trade for the world. And now, I am no longer in that season. I am in transition to step into a worship opportunity that even a year ago, only looked like a distant dream.
WHEN SOMETHING SHIFTS
Right in the thick of one of my greatest tests, I am being pulled in a lot of different directions. I’m busier than ever, and I am more anxious and vulnerable than I have been in a long time. The promise that God has for me is just around the corner. All the while, there are things happening in and around me that try to coax me into giving up and, giving in to the enemy’s plan for me to lose sight of it all. And from a person who has been in a trying season for about five years of wondering if God really does keep His word, if He’s hearing my prayers, if I’ve been forgotten, if I heard His voice wrong, or if things were ever going to change, this transition season has been greatly anticipated and one I wouldn’t want to miss out on.
Of course we face trials in every season, but right now the light is at the end of the tunnel and I’m almost there. And although all I want to do is sprint to the finish line, God is wooing me into a nice stroll with Him; keeping a steady pace. I think sometimes we can assume that the lull or the opposition we may be feeling is all the enemy. But I’m starting to see that God is actually allowing these things to happen to propel me into full fruition of where I’m going next. I think when He does that, It helps us to not walk in mediocrity, but to walk in complete humility, authority, purity and confidence into what He has for us.
The actual definition of “test” is: “a procedure intended to establish the quality, performance, or reliability of something, especially before it is taken into widespread use” (Dictionary.com). I don’t know about you, but that definition takes my thoughts on testing to a whole different dimension! It’s so easy to get caught up in the testing itself, that we lose sight of the purpose. We can think ourselves into believing that when the Lord tests us, it’s a bad thing. But it’s establishing us, it’s measuring who we really are deep down in our hearts. These times are preparing us for “widespread use,” in which He delights in co-laboring with us and partnering with us to advance His kingdom. He has BIG plans for us, and we can be confident in that truth when we feel Him leading us into a season of tests.
TESTS WILL COME
In Job 23:10, it says, “…when He tests me…”, and not “If He tests me”. I would say that’s a good indicator that testing is something that is actually vital to our process, and if we want to “come out as pure as gold,” it’s not optional. God loves us too much to not allow our blessing to be greater than our character. These tests sharpen our faith, purify our motives, and enables us to receive our inheritance in its fullness.
So how do we make sure we successfully get through our testing seasons? We have to be aware, stay alert and pay attention to what’s pinging around in our minds and our hearts at all times. In quieting the lies and being “…transformed by the renewing of [our] mind…” (Romans 12:2), we are able to lean in close enough and hang on every word God says.
In James 1:12 it also says,“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him”. I believe passing through our testing season can be reflected in us falling more in love with Jesus; letting obedience be our response to love itself. Through this, He will help us see the bigger picture, and He will guide our every step toward our glorious destinies. The tension in the testing will produce gold and birth beauty. It’s through the chaos each season brings that God will reveal how beautiful we will be.