As I look around my "world" today, I see all manner of "things" God has prepared for my enjoyment. I have a beautiful house, nice yard, reliable vehicle, tremendous relationships with friends and family. ALL specifically placed in my life for my enjoyment - and for my growth! Why do I think all things placed in my life are for my growth? Have you tried to be mature and responsible for the many blessings you have received and observed how ridiculously hard it can be to "handle" what life throws your way at times? The house helped me to grow and mature in a financial sense. In short order I learned what it was like to have a financial "burden" in your life which was kind of "bigger" that any other financial burden I had ever known. In rather short order, I had to grow up with respect to my use of money - learning to budget and take specific interest in reducing this debt year by year. It is paid off ten years earlier than the mortgage company predicted it would be - not because I am wealthy, but because God helped me grow "into" a better handling of my monies. We may not think of the "things" God places in our lives as being those things he has prepared for our growth and development, but even the simplest of God's blessings has a profound impact in the life of the one who will learn to look for the blessing "inside" the blessing!
No eye has ever seen and no ear has ever heard and it has never occurred to the human heart all the things God prepared for those who love Him. God has shown us these profound and startling realities through His Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep mysteries of God. Who can see into a man’s heart and know his thoughts? Only the spirit that dwells within the man. In the same way, the thoughts of God are known only by His Spirit. You must know that we have not received the spirit of this rebellious and broken world but the Spirit that comes from God, so that we may experience and comprehend the gifts that come from God. (I Corinthians 2:9-12 VOICE)
The human heart is incapable of fully knowing (recognizing) and understanding (having all the "background" information) all the blessings God has prepared in our lives. If we were to take up a journal and pen, we'd soon fill the pages with notes accounting for this blessing, that one, and soon another. As we'd begin that process, we'd begin to discover this blessing opened the door for that one, then another came along on its heels, until the list just mushroomed - because God's blessings are limitless and his care over our lives is without measure! Yet, God wants us to come into an appreciation of the blessings and gifts he has placed into our lives - so he sends his Spirit to dwell within us to show us those deep mysteries of his blessing and goodness. Why? God wants us to experience AND comprehend the gifts that come from him. He wants us to enter into them, but also to see the ways they actually help us to grow and mature in his grace, love, and mercy.
The part of this passage I want us to consider this morning is that which is underlined above - all those things God has prepared for each of us. In the most literal sense, preparation involves this sense of pre-planning. There is some thought which goes into the process that considers the detail necessary to ensure the "thing prepared" is specifically orchestrated for the one it is prepared to bless. God doesn't just go to the pantry, pull out a 'canned blessing' and send it our way! He has laid up those blessings way in advance, preparing even the "order" in which we will receive them into our lives. Preparation requires some "readying" of the subject who will receive and the object which will be received. As I think of the times when I have prepared for a dinner party, or perhaps even prepared to celebrate a specific holiday with family and friends, there is a lot of "pre-planning" which goes into those moments. From picking just the right ingredients from which to prepare the meal, to the actual preparation of those items into the dishes which will be served, the "readying" process evolves. The same is true in our lives - there is a process of preparation which is underway right now for the next thing God has "readied" for our lives.
The most amazing part of the preparation God is doing in our lives is that we are not even aware of the groundwork being laid to prepare the way for the next thing he has for us! Most of us don't understand the weather, but we learn to read the signs of the weather. If the wind begins to pick up, we know we may realize a little cooling or even the entry of some clouds along with those winds. We might dress a little differently, making "preparation" for the possibility of a change in weather which could bring rain, snow, or something in between. We pick up a sweater, maybe an umbrella, and make our way to the office as usual. When we make our way into the office that day, the full realization of the weather coming our way may not be known, but we have prepared for the possibilities. God doesn't always give us clarity of what he is doing, does he? Sometimes his movement in our lives is kind of like that beginning of the weather change - there is a hint things are about to be different (changed), but we don't really know what that entails or how much change will be coming our way. We prepare what we are able to prepare, in ways we can understand with our minds and appreciate with our hearts. The rest is up to him!
Even times where it appears there is no sign of growth, preparation is underway. Paul Theroux said, "Winter is a season of recovery and preparation." Those times when we don't see the preparation occurring may actually be times when God is laying the groundwork - allowing recovery to occur so we are ready for the next thing he has prepared which our heart and mind will find challenge and discovery within. Discovery of God's heart isn't by chance - it is because there is preparation! In finding his heart, we might just discover the blessing he has prepared! Just sayin!