Updated: Apr 25, 2020
When a season ends and you remain in it, there is no grace to sustain you. Grace is on the move and you have the choice to GO willingly or grudgingly into the new season. Everything is changing, and normal just won't be normal anymore. Where are you at? Are you levelled up?
Initially, I thought I was writing this blog for people over 40, because I felt my 'personal stuff' would be relevant to this 'specific' group. You know, my 'niche', but with further reflection, starting over, over forty is a blog for anyone going through process. Thank goodness I realised sooner not to put a label on where it could go.
Isn't that what we always do? Put a label on it!
Not like me
Just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the UK, Starting Over, Over Forty dropped into my heart. I wasn't sure what it meant or represented, so I made a note of it on my phone and later in my journal. Then the pandemic hit and I kept hearing the still small voice of the Holy Spirit having conversations with me.
If you ask those who know me, I don't run to the front. Although if you met me, you would think being outspoken meant I want to be in front. A bit of a contradiction. Yes, I have a bubbly personality and I am an influencer but I like keeping my life private and being behind the scenes. Being behind closed doors is my normal.
Life is just quieter when you are hidden. Or is it?
Back to the unravelling of sooforty, I found myself writing more and more, reflecting, pondering and having these beautiful revelations in God's Word, during bible study at home, while listening to messages online and in my quiet time. Holy Spirit was keeping me schooled on me.
I love and enjoy all I am being exposed to and believe this happens to everyone. There is a purpose for revelation - transformation, prevention, correction, affirmation, establishing and so much more. I tried to retreat, to internalise my process but I was not allowed. I had to start sooforty, this time felt different from any time before.
When a cup is filled to overflowing, some of what is within the cup must be poured out before it can be refilled to overflowing again.
I kept hearing, "IT IS TIME".
I thought, time for what? Ah, I don't want to put myself out there. People can be funny, to say the least. It's safer on the inside, familiar, content and I don't have to deal with anyone else's issues or drama. My personal issues are more than enough. I 'control' my own environment.
Oh, really! Is this you living for Me? I heard clearly.
"No", I said. "It isn't Father God, I am sorry, please forgive me."
It is time. Time to believe God and who He says I am and who He is. Let go of introspection. You are not what you experienced. Leave the temporary (worldly perceptions and earthly hoardings) and move in the permanent (Spirit-led and King-directed).
He said, "You will see differently. You will move differently than before. It is time to come out from the wilderness and cross over into the promised land. Everything happening right now is not a coincidence. Utilise it. Get in position."
Do not gather and heap up and store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust and worm consume and destroy, and where thieves break through and steal. But gather and heap up and store for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust nor worm consume and destroy, and where thieves do not break through and steal;
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is sound, your entire body will be full of light. But if your eye is unsound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the very light in you [your conscience] is darkened, how dense is that darkness! (Matthew 6:19-23)
I had said, 'Yes'. Yes meant withholding nothing. Stepping forward regardless of my emotions, limitations, what I see happening around the world or the responses and reactions of 'others'. Overcoming my fears and facing my destiny for God's glory, has become the driving force to set me in motion to write - starting over, over forty.
You can run but you can never hide
I had spent so many years running away from myself and using every excuse under the sun to support my actions. It was self-sabotage wrapped in fear and part of my process to get to this junction in my life.
The devil was using every attempt and weakness to keep me locked down, to envelop me, to deter me from God's love and plans for my life. Worst still, I was allowing it. I was too unaware, ignorant, self-conscious and weak to resist. I didn't make the effort or take the time to sit with the Holy Spirit to learn, transform and take action on how to resist and continue moving.
Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour. Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset—rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace [Who imparts all blessing and favor], Who has called you to His [own] eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the dominion (power, authority, rule) forever and ever. Amen (so be it). (1 Peter 5: 8 - 11)
Instead, I ran, got stuck and hid. It was easier and familiar. Not going through the process did not stop me from being called a Christian. But is that enough?
The number 40 is significant of process - facing tests, passing trials and completing probation. We learn about Moses' journey marked by 40 in the bible:
He lived for 40 years in Egypt
He fled Egypt for 40 years
He stayed on the mount to get the Commandments for 40 days
The Exodus he was leading lasted for 40 years in the wilderness
My children and I have been studying the book of Exodus which means "a mass departure of people; a way out or departure". I won't cover everything we learnt but I'm sure you see where the 40 comes into play? The Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness travelling a journey which should have taken 11 days. The process of a nation and a man with their God.
We are all going through process today, whether we recognise it or not.
Moses ran away after killing an Egyptian, he was afraid and ashamed because he thought everyone knew what he had done. To make the situation more intense, Pharaoh wanted him dead, so he ran and found himself in a foreign land for 40 years. A temporary stay nearly became his forever destiny, actually, it became the name of his son, Gershom (meaning exiled, alien, or bell).
But Moses was created for more.
He made the decision to stay with Reuel [Jethro] because he felt content. He was satisfied with his life. What did contentment look like? Having a wife? Being fed? Having a job? But was his contentment an indication of fulfilling his life's divine purpose? Did his fear just restrict and contain him?
I can relate to Moses' life story, I too had been running away from who God was saying I am because of my decisions and actions and how I had been living my life separate from God.
I too had become afraid, contained and restricted.
Now, I know what you are going to say, I didn't kill anyone but every time I disobeyed God's instruction, I was committing a sin against Him. Murder is a sin. Sin makes you run away from God because of guilt, shame, condemnation and fear. Billy Graham put it this way, “A sin is any thought or action that falls short of God’s will. God is perfect, and anything we do that falls short of His perfection is sin.”
Within the depth of my soul, hidden layers of unrighteousness and sinful living which were evident in my character and mindset. Receiving Jesus set me on the journey to discovering identity and purity through transformation - taking off veils and layers is a part of process.
I am saved. I am holy. I am His but my soul and body needed to know what my spirit had received.
Boy, did I feel all the above, and yet God was saying, 'I love you Michelle and I have got you'. Got me? Why would God want me? I saw myself as a failure. An utterly incompetent Christian. I had refused to live my life for He who first loved me - Jesus, Holy Spirit, God.
It was too hard to receive or believe.
The journey the Israelites went on for 40 years in the wilderness, was to strip them of every mindset which went against God. 40 years? Mindset? Perception? Vision? Do you believe it can take that long? I do. We live our lives exposed to deceptive worldly knowledge and understandings daily, without a relationship with God where would we be?
This brings us back to why sooforty is here, for us to come out of the wilderness (worldly and religious mindsets) and enter into the promises God has for us, I believe sharing our stories and lessons aids us through His process. It is my hope to share what I learn (past and present) on this platform and pray for God to use it as He sees fit.
What we must be mindful of, is what the wilderness represents?
a lack of creativity - wore the same clothes and shoes
limited food to eat - physical and spiritual food
going around in cycles - what are these cycles? (mindsets, culture, traditions)
never going hungry - recognising Your Source
what was lost in that place - time, generation, destinies (seed)
going against giants - preparing for what was ahead? skills, knowledge, character
limitations - unbelief, lack of gratitude
Moving forward requires actions and so does resisting.
Being in a wilderness season is different for each of us, it does not have to be exactly 40 years for it to be a wilderness season. Whatever it is you need to process with God, do it.
40 is symbolic of different things in our lives, as we all face different challenges:
40 failures due to wrong decisions
40 minutes pondering on the wrong thoughts,
40 losses because you felt afraid to pursue what was in front of you
40 hours dabbling in an ungodly act,
40 days without direction or clarity,
40 places you have found yourself wondering what next
40 weeks in a bad circumstance,
40 months in sickness or
40 veils placed upon you from trauma, peoples' opinions, negative self-talk.
40 years of religious activity.
The number 40 represents more than the age of an individual but it can be your age.
It is time for you to finish - that challenge, cycle or wilderness and enter into what God has promised you in this season. Time to unlock the stored up treasures in you as an individual, in those you are called to and within the community you were created to influence and activate. What will be different for you?
reconnecting with a loved one or family
starting a new path
spending time in God's presence
moving to a new location
stepping out into ministry
facing the past and moving forward
starting a new business
Spend some quality time with the Holy Spirit to find out what God is saying and take action. Get into position.