While shopping the after Christmas holiday sale in a local hobby store in January of this year, I was scanning the available items when my eyes focused on a pure white rectangular throw pillow with cursive script boldly declaring "Believe," followed by a swirling line of silver ending with one delicate glittering silver star. This may seem a bit strange, but I have not been able to get the image of that succinct and concise script expressed on a simple pillow. Believe! What a simple message and yet so profound. My thoughts traveled back to our forefathers - far back to Abraham and Sarah, to David, Solomon and especially Mary and Joseph as the shimmering star hung in the heavens showing the way to the wisemen, marking the Lord's birth and declaring to all that night to "Believe." Everyone at some time in life must choose to believe, even when the signs are not there and hope seems like a vapor. God has given His grace, faith and strength to us to choose to believe. Sometimes circumstances and obstacles seem so overwhelming, but God uses these very moments to teach us to persevere, endure and to nurture hope and trust.

I don't know about you, but the past ten years were challenging. There were moments when I wanted to give up and yet my heart would not allow it. You see, we often blame the enemy for our challenges when God is actually performing heart and soul surgery on us. This is the work of the Cross which includes the path of brokenness. Some call this work the process of transformation while others refer to it as the PIT - Person In Training. We essentially learn He is strong and we are weak. We learn to look outward to service instead of inward to our own wants and desires. We are taught to wait on God for promotion instead of promoting ourselves. We learn to be content in Him and what He has provided, instead of wishing or even pouting that we lived in someone else's shoes. We learn that time is not particularly important to God and that he is interested in our personal development, including character, gifts and integrity. We also learn He trains and teaches, and the lesson may be followed by a test, allowing us to see the progress in our growth and development. In the process of transformation He will dismantle all that we are, so He can fill us with all that He is. Transformation is a covenant exchange.

How often we encounter the challenges of life and immediately blame the enemy or someone else. Yes, sometimes we open doors for attack through our own poor choices, but most of the time the circumstances are staged for God to work deeply within us. I spent too many moments moaning and whining to God, even begging Him to deliver me from harsh situations, until I finally realized my circumstances were being orchestrated by Him. He used each situation to destroy unbiblical belief systems, and unhealthy mental structures I developed while in the world. As He demolished the old systems in me, He renewed my mind and taught me to lean on Him. He rebuilt kingdom structures and taught me to serve. He strengthened me to stand, to endure and persevere when waves of adversity flow, and He grounded me in His promises teaching me to trust. He continues to develop obedience and the understanding of sacrifice.

You may ask, "How long does this covenant exchange process take?" It simply takes as long as it takes for you to surrender to His divine work and plan for your life. To allow Him to teach and train you, mature and transform you into the vessel He desires you to be, so you can accomplish the work He places before you. If you have given your life to God, He will wield His scalpel and reshape your character. Often through adversity He changes us from the inside out. It is His mercy that guides and transforms a surrendered heart, because He wants you to succeed. He loves you and one of His greatest desires is to have relationship with you and bless you. And like a good Father, he desires to prepare you and equip you to touch a world in His name. So as you yield and allow Him to change you more into His character and image, He will provide all that He has laid up for you. He will release your inheritance and you will know the reward of His joy and peace, contentment and life as He comes to you with His presence.