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Are You Ready?

I thought I was ready to be a wife when I took a husband on that lovely, leafy October day. I just knew I could handle everything that would be expected of me—no debating that issue. I certainly tried, but it took only about two weeks of marital bliss for me to discover that I wasn’t nearly as ready as I thought I was.

I had the same mind-set in my Christian walk—I can do it. And I tried—awfully hard, but I am confident that God would often, while observing my "perfect" performance, shake His head and mutter, "Oh, Anabel. That’s not what I meant."

Moses thought he was ready. It would seem that during his forty years in Pharaoh’s palace he had learned one thing very well: "I can do it! I have been well trained. I have great power and strength. I will be Israel’s deliverer, the savior who will set my brothers free." He began his glorious role by killing an Egyptian he saw abusing a fellow Israelite. But this one-on-one extermination plan wasn’t any too successful. He ran for his life the next day as he fell from prince to pauper, tending sheep in the desert of Midian instead of being a lauded leader among men.

And all the while God was shaking His head, muttering, "Moses, that’s not what I meant." Moses wasn’t wrong in his vision, in his dreams, or in his goal. His method was wrong. His perception of how God worked and of God’s ways was wrong.

Like Moses, Saul of Tarsus had a goal: To be all God wanted him to be. And what did that mean to Saul? It meant being well-informed, a teacher of the law, a Pharisee; it meant being dedicated, enthusiastic, a persecutor of the heretical sect known as Christians; it meant being blameless, a keeper of the law par excellence, the "chiefest" of the law-keepers! He wanted to be an enthusiastic disciple to whom others could look and be challenged by his flawless performance, his commitment to God. A worthy goal? Yes. A very worthy goal. Saul had learned, as had Moses: "I can do it! I will be God’s protector." God had to violently penetrate the wall of Saul’s misunderstanding: "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" Paraphrased that says: "Saul, you’re doing it all wrong. That’s not what I meant." Like Moses, Saul’s motive was not wrong—his method was wrong.

And then, there’s Anabel. Oh, I’m not putting myself in the same company with Moses and Saul, but all three of us were well trained, competent, do-it-yourselfers. I related to Paul, "I want to be all God wants me to be." And I would have agreed with Moses, "I want to be a leader for God." I thought I was ready to do all of that, but I was ignorant of God’s definition of readiness, and I certainly didn’t know He was saying under His breath, "Oh, dear Anabel, that’s not what I meant."

What does it mean to be "ready" for the plans God has? For me to be ready? For you to be ready?
1. Being ready means being willing to be all God wants me to be, not what I want me to be (or what I think He wants me to be).
2. Being ready means being willing to do it God’s way instead of my way.
3. Being ready means being sensitive to God’s direction in my life; it means meeting a need not through a sense of duty or guilt, but because of His direction, His presence, His life within me guiding me.
4. Being ready entails confessing my abject weakness and relying solely on His indwelling strength.
5. Being ready means relinquishing all glory and praise to Him (and that’s even if the results don’t turn out like I think they should have).
6. Being ready entails risking the loss of acceptance, praise, and any—or all—of the things I have clung to for my security.

You see, what God wants me to be does not depend on my circumstances, the people around me, my talents, my gifts, or on making a right turn when I should have turned left. God is not nearly as interested in changing my circumstances as He is in changing me in my circumstances. It is crucial (and I chose that word deliberately; it means "supremely critical; decisive") for your Christian walk—indeed, for your life—that you learn what Moses and Saul learned, that you learn what I learned:

You cannot be all God wants you to be until you realize—until you grasp, until you accept—this truth: YOU cannot be all God wants you to be. That’s not part of your job description. That’s in God’s contract.

Gene’s Story

Gene didn’t have time for God; he was too busy enjoying life. Successful in his work, respected in his community, family holding together, in good health—why should he need God? He was doing just fine—all by himself. And today he was doing what he loved to do more than anything else—bird hunting. It was cold, but that Arkansas air was invigorating. A new dog added to his excitement. All was well with Gene.

His dog flushed a covey: Not bad shooting, old boy, Gene thought to himself, and Sandy is retrieving just great.

"Give!" That’s bad. She isn’t dropping the bird.

Gene laid his gun on the ground and proceeded to scold the excited pup. She stepped on the trigger.

Odd—how one minute all’s well, and the next minute Gene is lying on the cold, Arkansas ground with a gaping wound in his leg, bleeding, isolated, and no one knows where he is.

"God? Ahem. This is Gene. You up there? I need some help down here. This is serious stuff. I’ll do anything if You’ll just get me out of this mess. I’ll give money to the church. I’ll even start going to church!"

No answer. It’s midday, but you can’t tell it. It’s getting colder, or at least it seems that way to Gene. The bleeding isn’t as bad, but the pain is intense.

"God? Gene again. I need Your help. I agree with You. I haven’t given You much thought these past years, but I plan to change all that. I really do. I’ll start living my life for You—You know, my money, my job, my family, my managerial skills. I want to start using all those things for you, but I need You to take care of this one situation right now before I can start on that new plan." No answer. It was 17 degrees last night. If only there were some trees around instead of this open field!

"Well, God, looks like I’m not gonna make it. That bargaining didn’t seem to impress You a whole lot. Oh, well. Bargaining time is over. I’ve been wrong all along, and I see that clearly now. I need You, God. I need Your Son, Jesus. That’s it! That’s all I need."

Strange. A peace.

"I love You, Lord. Doesn’t really matter, does it? If I don’t make it tonight, I’ll be with You. Thanks for loving me, for letting me come in at the last minute like this. I’m just sorry I didn’t respond until the game was over—so sorry. Forgive me, Lord."

A farmer was heading home, driving down a little country road. What is that out there? Looks like a man. I’d better check on it . . .

Anabel had tried bargaining. Thirty years is a long time to hold out on a deal, but I held out. I wasn’t lying on the cold ground with a bloody leg that would eventually have to be amputated, as Gene’s was, but I was desperate. I was hurting and in my pain I finally came to the same conclusions Gene reached: "Lord, I can’t get myself out of this one. You’re going to have to do it for me, and I’m trusting You, Lord. I’m not going to tell You what to do or how to do it. I just want You to know that I love You."

Anabel was ready—and God tenderly said, "That’s what I meant, Honey. Everything’s okay."

About the Author

Anabel spent decades teaching in many contexts through Lifetime Guarantee Ministries. She has taught countless others how to have a genuine intimate faith and a sound marriage. She shared from her heart about living from the heart. Lifetime’s beloved founder and mentor passed away November 7, 2010. Her legacy and influence are timeless and priceless.