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  • Ayanna A.

I've been here before.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation that feels like repeat? Different people, different place maybe, but somehow it feels like it could be Déja vu? You’re thinking, I’ve definitely been here before…

Some people leave a job after finding one that they know is much better. But in a short time, they are in a similar dynamic between themselves and their employer or peers as they had in the workplace they left.

Others end one romantic relationship, then meet another person with the high hopes of a fresh start. After the honeymoon phase passes, they can find themselves at another impasse.

Recently, I left one relationship and found myself in a far-too-familiar power dynamic. I don’t know about you but I can be so eager to be past a problem that I don’t take the time to investigate what may be lying deeper that this scenario is pointing to that needs addressing.

After spending hours, which turned into days, ruminating (see: worrying) about how to fix the relationship, I took a step back and I asked, What am I to learn from this scenario? Is there a larger lesson or root that needs to be addressed?

Reading John a while ago, a phrase stood out to me that I’ve been pondering: What if while meeting our immediate concerns, God wants us to discover something through experience about His Nature?

The next day the crowd that had stayed on the far shore saw that the disciples had taken the only boat, and they realized Jesus had not gone with them… So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went across to Capernaum to look for him. They found him on the other side of the lake and asked Rabbi, when did you get here? Jesus replied “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs.” John 6:22-26

For context, let me provide you with the backstory... Jesus had grown to be so famous and sought after that over 5000 people were following him with no thought for their needs like food and water. The demands of the crowd quickly outnumbered Jesus and his 12 staff members’ physical supply. Jesus being God and all does what He do— He gave thanks for a few bread loaves and fish and caused them to stretch to feed everyone, with 12 baskets left over.

In that very place, in the hands of Jesus, thousands of people saw lack become more than enough.

The next day He walks across to the other side of the lake, and the crowd of people follow Him there. But the people sought Him, because their bellies were hungry again.

They failed to understand the sign. Jesus did not do the miraculous only to feed their bellies, although that was part of it. He wanted them to not just receive the miracle, but to get a revelation of who He is. Perhaps that God is My Provider.

I wonder if sometimes we (see: I) can get so caught up in God answering emergency prayers or seeking answers to our toughest problems that we fail to understand the sign or what the scenario could teach us IF we are open to it.

Just like the enemy often robs our finances, health, relationships, etc. in order to steal spiritual substance from us (i.e. hope, joy, peace, tenderheartedness, vision) so God doesn’t just want to bless us naturally (although He absolutely does because He is a Good Father, see Matthew 7:7-11). While both are priorities for Him, He is much more interested in us prospering eternally than temporarily or momentarily here on earth.

He wants to answer our cries and show up for us to meet the most urgent needs, to heal the brokenness caused by abandonment, neglect, disappointment, betrayal, loss. AND in order to impart truths to us about His character. It’s both/and at the same time.

He wants us to know who He is.

Then, we can build memorials of understanding of who He is and carry them forward into our futures as tokens for the next challenge we face, and to pass on to others.

One of the temptations of being in spaces where you see the power of God manifest regularly is that we seek God for things, rather than himself. We have faith to see signs and wonders, and that faith pleases Him. But we also need the maturity to desire him because we love Him and not just His gifts.

God is beyond just meeting our supply, He is after our transformation. What if experiences are meant to be the place of impartations of understanding and revelation about His nature? What if they are meant to change us from the inside out, and shift our perspective about who He is, who we are, and what is possible?

When our responses change, we change. Our real time responses prove if the lesson was learned. Just like tests in grade school— our responses are the difference between if the test is passed or if it needs to be taken again to ensure what was taught at one level has been retained.

That necessitates going deep and having courage. The type of courage to confront and look straight in the eye the very thing you may have been avoiding or running from.

A wise woman told me you cannot overcome what you won’t confront. Alternatively, the enemy loves darkness and ignorance. Why? Because in those places, he has the upper hand. Ignorance leads us to destruction (Hosea 4:6) thus anything we are unaware of is leverage for the enemy. He delights in our avoidance and ignorance because it gives him tactical advantage.

Which is why the best thing we can do next time is face head on discomfort, inconvenience, fear, shame, tough conversations.

So we can get to the other side.

Not just for what we can get, but for who we can become through experience. Because truly often our biggest need is to know and understand who He is.

God is all about growing in relationship with us, by any means necessary.

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