I had my fifth conversation of the week (and it’s only Tuesday) with someone today who was going through the process of being stripped. They did not even realize that it was God taking them through a powerful process that is required of all of His elect. The Lord dropped it into my spirit to write about it so you can understand this inescapable process and how to move through it without losing your sanity.
There are three stages through which the Lord takes everyone who says they are a believer. These stages are phases He allows to strengthen your walk with Him, move into your authority and teach you how to have unshakable faith. I used to think that it was only me going through this, but after years of working closely with those called to do great things in the Kingdom of God, I have come to see an undeniable pattern.
The steps I am talking about are:
In order to create you anew, God must break your of your old self. He must take you through a process of humbling you so you fully surrender to His will in your life. He breaks you of who you think you are. You cannot truly serve God with pride, ego and arrogance. They have to go and this is the phase in which he causes you to question everything that you have used to define yourself. For me, He used becoming a single mother to break me. This reality took me to a place of breaking me down so ruthlessly that there was literally none of me left. One day I fell flat on my face and cried out to the Lord to no longer do my will, but for His will to be done in my life.
Once the breaking has begun, then He must empty you of your old ways. He must empty you of your past habits, beliefs, thought processes, addictions, behaviors and uncleannesses (Ezekiel 36: 29; Galatians 5:19). This is when you lose your “appetite” for the friends you’ve always had, the places you have always gone and the bad habits you have participated in. It feels like He has taken you by the ankles and is shaking everything that you are familiar with out of you.
Once He begins emptying you of what you think you know, He begins to pour the Truth of His Word in you. This is when you begin to hunger and crave His Word. When you are in this phase you are more interested in learning His ways than you are attached to your old ways or what you have learned prior to your walk with God and coming into the Truth of who He is.
Just like an infomercial…right when you think the deal is done, there flashes a big, “BUT WAIT, THAT’S NOT ALL” on the screen of your life. There is one more phase that no one wants to talk about – stripped.
Then…comes the stripping. This is the final part of the process of Jesus testing you to see if you are truly worthy to be called one of His. He is testing you to see if you will serve Him no matter what. This is where most “believers” fall off their Christian walk. But, it cannot be avoided.
He then has to strip you from your worldly possessions. He literally removes anything that you are overly attached to from your life. Cars, houses, friendships, relationships, titles, money, jobs…
This is when you can feel like you are at your breaking point and possibly cannot go on. You must realize when you are in this step of the process because if you don’t, it can take you out. The great news is that He has left a way to pass through these processes with ease and joy.
You must remain in Him. You simply cannot look with your natural eyes because things look CRAZY! You must stay absolutely focused on the vision He has planted within you and know that His word does not return void (Isaiah 55:11). You are going through a season of pruning and it is necessary for Him to reconnect you with him – the branch.
The longer we fight these phases, the more difficult it is to move through them. The Body of Christ is being stripped. He is separating the true believers from those who have just been playing church and giving the Lord lip service.
Here are a few steps that can help you pass through these phases without too many battle wounds:
1. Don’t make it mean anything. When you are being emptied and stripped you can easily feel like you are not good enough, unworthy, embarrassed or that God has forsaken you. He has not. Just know that you are passing through a phase on your way to your promised land.
2. Renew Your Mind Daily. As you pass through this process, you cannot rely on your old mind. You have to adopt the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5) so you can see what is going on in your life from a Heavenly perspective and not the world’s. Ask Jesus, “How do you see me? What are you preparing me for, Lord?”
3. Spend more time in His presence. Set aside time every morning to not only pray, intercede and study the Word, but carve out time to sit in stillness and listen for His voice of instruction and peace that passes all understanding. Do whatever it takes to fully lean on him and not anything of the world. Let the Holy Spirit show you what it means to meditate on His Word day and night (Joshua 1:8;Psalms 1:2).
While these experiences may look different for everyone because it is according to your faith, your issues and your attachments, the process is identical. The Lord has to purify you in the fire of life to prepare you to really be ready to receive and to serve.
Know that on the other side of this is the “exceeding abundantly” that He promises those who believe in Him. He must break you, empty you out and then strip you to then finally fill you with His glory and blessings. You know you are ready when you move into a place like the Apostle Paul when he said, “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” He said this as the Lord was blessing Him greatly through the gifts of the church at Phillipi after a challenging period.
Unlike the rich young ruler, you must remain in a state of being unattached to material things (Matthew 19:16 – 23; Mark 10:17 – 23; Luke 18:18 – 23). You have to be willing to walk away from anything in order to receive everything.
Hang in there…it will be over soon.