“Home, Away, Home” components of every good musical piece as taught to me by Dr. Begbie in my first graduate school class at Regent College in BC, Canada. I’m not highly musical but if I remember right, classical pieces start in major keys, move to minor and then back to major. It has this effect of music that is easy, peaceful, calming (home) then away from home to music that is more jarring and finally coming back to the easy peaceful music. I think it was in the same class, also taught by Dr. Alan Torrance, that I learned about a biblical theme “Promise, Problem, Provision”. If you read the bible with those themes in mind it is amazing how often God gives a promise, people encounter a problem and doubt the promise, then God provides. Frequently the provision isn’t how people expected it but it is a delivery of the promise.
One of the difficult parts to the prophetic, the process of listening to God and hearing God speak on my behalf or on others is interpretation. For example the Old Testament shares multiple promises of another King like David who would come and rescue the Jewish people. God promises God will take care of the Jewish people and rescue them. It took years of problems (promise...problem) before God provided an answer to the promise. Over the years people took the promises and interpreted what the provision would look like. They developed a picture of their messiah. So when God’s promise did come, some people missed it—Jesus looked different than their interpretation.
I frequently hear God promise. And usually God will give enough to be encouraging but spare the details of how that promise will unfold. Just as frequently sometime after the promise, I encounter problems…it seems as if the opposite is coming true or at least that God has forgotten the promises. God's promises require some form of participation from us...this is where the discernment gets tricky. What does the participation look like? When do I wait and when do I proceed? What does that look like? I can choose in those moments to cling to the promises and trust. Sometimes God has me move forward without knowing the end result. But sometimes I take the promises and try to make them happen myself…a bit like Abraham way back at the beginning of the bible. God promises that Abraham and his wife Sarah will have a kid. (Promise) They are both super old so think it is impossible. (Problem) So Abraham has sex with his slave girl and has a kid with her…. (Provision?) But no, Sarah actual does have a kid. Abraham didn’t need to try to fix his perceived problem—he just needed to wait a little longer and trust.
In a completely dumb and trivial example: there are these British cups that I like and have honestly started to become a little obsessed by. I started wanting some but given our budget these days it felt out of the question. I was talking to God about them and thought I heard God say, “I’ll provide some for you, don’t worry.” (promise). “But how” I thought—“how are you going to provide”? (problem) There was an online sale going on where cups were more than half off (provision?). So I spent way too long stressing about it, thinking about it, looking at them. Then I bought some. I couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t a wise choice of our money at this point. I canceled the order. That same evening I received an email from someone saying “she wanted to give me 4 of these cups—she had too many and so would I come over to her house and pick some out?” (Provision!!) I created more of a mess than I needed to, was stressed out and tried to make God’s promise come true by my own might. I couldn't figure out what my participation in the promise looked like. This time all I had to do was wait and trust but sometimes God's promises require my action and figuring out what is what makes my head spin.
It is so easy in the “away” portions of our lives to loose hope and trust in what God has promised. Sometimes clinging to the promises of God helps during those times. But sometimes the promises seem so unrealistic, take longer than we think or even come in forms we didn’t picture. So we try to make them true ourselves. But it is amazing how often when God brings us back “home”—whether in big promises or little--God comes through in God’s time and in God’s way which though different than I picture is better than I could have imagined. So if you are in an “away” season don’t loose hope and keep your eyes peeled for ways God will come through and will provide answers to the promise. Home-away-Home. Promise-Problem-Provision.
Ali Millikan, Author
I love Father, Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit. I love my husband and kids. I believe that God is in the room with us; that hearing God's voice is for everyone and that it will change your day to day reality.