After you have suffered a while, may the God of all grace perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
1 Peter 5:10
The Lord whispered to me while rolling over in pain in bed one night and said "Joseph's gift was perfected in his wilderness." All that week I had been studying Joseph's life between the pit and the palace, but my focus was on all the times the scriptures noted "And the Lord was with Joseph." Mainly because I'd been sort of in a wilderness of my own and sometimes it was hard to see, feel, or hear the Lord. Anyway, having found comfort that in all Joseph went through, the Lord was with him, I was pretty much done with my study of Joseph, or so I thought.
But that whisper in the night sparked a renewed interest in my Old Testament hero. After further study I realized that while in slavery Joseph's gift of leadership and organization blossomed. And while in prison his gift of interpretation of dreams matured to the point that he found himself called before Pharaoh. The act of exercising his gift for Pharaoh - interpreting Pharaoh's dream - was a blessing in disguise. In doing so Joseph saved a nation, gained his freedom, received elevation/promotion, found a wife, and his name went down in history for thousands and thousands of years.
I am sure that when he was betrayed, falsely accused, and forgotten, Joseph couldn't imagine that a brand new life would one day be his. A new life, a new job and a new family. All because of the gift God gave him. He was faithful over a few things - those few things being his gifts - and God made him ruler over many (Matthew 25:21. 23).
My own wilderness journey began when I lost my job on July 1, 2015. After the shock wore off, after the pain and shame subsided, I remembered that like Joseph, the Lord was with me. I went back to work part time that Fall, but was let go again the following June. The shock, pain, and shame quickly returned. So did depression.
But then I remembered the gifts that God placed in me. And I remembered regardless of where I am in life - on the mountain or in the wilderness - I must remain faithful to my calling, exercise my gifts, and not bury my talents. So I got to work.
First, I re-released two previously published chapbooks as full length memoirs. Then I published three of the many manuscripts that had been sitting on the proverbial shelf gathering the dust of the last two decades. By the end of 2016, I was the author of six books. Pictured below are a few of my wilderness blessings. Some are internal and cannot be photographed. Yet, even as I type this, James 2:17 comes to mind: Faith without works is dead.
Something else also happened in June of 2016. God shifted something in the atmosphere that I didn't realize the significance of until earlier this month. You see, back in May of 2013 I was invited to conduct a book signing and lecture at a senior living facility in Voorhees, N.J. Honored and excited, I spoke on the topic 'My Life in Rhyme: Nine Poets Who Moved My Heart and Pen'. It went over so well that I was invited back to conduct quarterly poetry readings. Two years later I was asked to include poetry writing exercises. I did. Then in March of 2016 I was asked to restructure those sessions into a Memoir Writing Class. I did. That was June 23, 2016, one week after I was let go of the part time job.
Pictured below is the first resident of that facility who published her memoir. (Nancy Korn Whomsley, Before I Became Your Mother).
As 1 Peter 5:10 states above, I now realize that God was perfecting my gifts in the wilderness. There was a plan and a purpose for my pain. There was pruning that needed to be done in order for my gifts to grow. And in order for God to continue to perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle me, I must yield to - and not resist - the process.
If you are in a wilderness season in your life, don't neglect the gifts God placed in you. Allow God to perfect your gifts in while you are in this season. Remember, even in your wilderness, God knows the plans He has for you, plans to prosper you, not to harm you, to give you hope and an expected end (Jeremiah 29:11).
All six books are available as paperback or e-book at www.amazon.com/author/patriciamiddleton
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Click on the title to purchase Before I Became Your Mother by Nancy Korn Whomsley.
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