Listen to this article, read by the author, Jessie Mejias.
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 (NKJV)
As a prayer counselor, I know I am just as much in need of regular spiritual care as my clients. That’s why I meet regularly with a prayer minister to do what I would call “spiritual hygiene.” Most often, I will have something that has been troubling me or a challenge I’ve encountered that I want to pray through. Once in a while, it feels like I’m on pretty solid footing and that there is nothing specific that I bring to the session to pray about. It was in one such session that the Holy Spirit unexpectedly dealt with me.
My prayer minister and I had spent many hours tackling some issues troubling my heart for almost two years, but I had finally arrived at a place of feeling settled. I had released forgiveness to some people who I felt had abandoned and betrayed me. I never understood why these things had happened to me, so many questions filled my heart and mind, but I believed I had put them all aside.
After bringing my prayer minister up to speed on where I was, we stopped to hear if Holy Spirit had something He wanted to show me. He quickly showed me that behind the unanswered questions in my heart was a sense of entitlement that I needed to know why I had been betrayed.
It was ironic that I felt this way because one of the things that I have consistently brought to the attention of my clients who are working through forgiveness is their need to release their sense of entitlement. By this, I mean that they must release the demand to be treated in a particular way or to have some need or desire met. I carefully explain that it is not that we should not desire the good thing that we didn’t get, but that we must give up the demand for what we feel we deserve. So I was shocked that here I was with my own demand for what I felt I deserved, which was to understand the WHY.
As I prayed, I realized that not only did I have to release the feeling that I deserved to know why this latest betrayal happened, but I also had to let go of the need to know why others along the way had betrayed me. In my mind’s eye, I could see a parade of all the “traitorous” people who had come and gone through this ministry, culminating in one person who had been particularly hurtful. I also needed to let go of why my sister had to die as tragically as she did at such a young age.
My prayer minister got a picture of me dressed in armor but with one piece missing: the back of the armor that was still exposed. As we prayed, I saw myself with Jesus sitting in front of a campfire. The entitlement I felt looked like a pouch hanging on my back, just around my neck. I saw myself take the pouch off and give it to the Lord. It went into the fire, and I saw the fire leap up like a massive column before my eyes. After I prayed to surrender my whys and sense of entitlement, I saw the fire recede. Then I saw that within the flames, there was some kind of metal being refined.
My prayer minister and I agreed that my vision signified that my spiritual armor was now complete and no longer exposed in the rear.
The next day I journaled about this and invited the Lord to show me what else He wanted me to see and hear.
He spoke to me about keeping my eyes looking forward, not backward, and pointed out that trying to see what is behind me only serves to strain my neck. This need to know has kept me looking behind me, and the stress comes from being unable to see the complete picture. He encouraged me to fully surrender the why and to give Him those last nagging doubts.
I revisited the picture from the day before. This time I saw Jesus squatting in front of the campfire as I sat cross-legged opposite Him. He was stirring something in the fire. I heard Him say,
Fire refines. I am replacing questions with answers. I am replacing fear with courage. I am giving beauty for ashes. Trust me with the why. If I need you to know, you will know.
Since then, I have been content to leave all explanations to the Lord, should He wish to give me any. I may never know why some things have happened to me, but I am willing to trust Him with whatever is or has been going on behind the scenes. I am trusting Him to work ALL things—including the bad—for good because He is a good God.
For more insight into surrendering the why, I recommend this podcast from Redeemer Anglican Church here in Richmond: Persevering to the End.