“What Outcomes Were You Expecting?”

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

If God asks you, “What outcomes were you expecting?,” it can honestly deflate your spirit for a moment. Your answer may leave you feeling even more deflated.

People who ask your guidance and then choose the opposite path in which you instructed them. People who continue to make harmful choices and seem on a path to no return. Government and worldly systems that put forth the same outputs and expect different results. Sigh.

A friend shared with us that several years ago when he began working with juvenile offenders, he had great expectations for changing the lives of the troubled youth he was pouring into day after day. Some of these youth were former gang members who had committed unimaginable offenses. He was certain that his time spent with them was making an impact. Indeed it was. However, some showed no change in their heart and mindsets that led them into detention centers in the first place. To compound matters, he was a government contractor who desired to make an impact within a system that functioned at the pace of gravy and operated with the typical mentality of “this is how we’ve always done it.” It was hard to see change on any level. At the lack of expected progress, my friend cried out to God in frustration.

The Lord responded to my friend in that sure voice and said, “What outcomes were you expecting?” 

Expectations checking the boxes

Upon hearing the Lord’s question, my friend spent a couple days angry. When the Lord speaks, there is such hard truth to His Words. For me, His responses hit my gut like a brick but also give peace to my search for answers. The answer may not be what we want. The Lord’s response was in reference to mankind’s fallen nature and that God gave man the ability to choose to follow Him—or the flesh. My friend already understood this concept—yet, as Believers, when we are deep in the work in representing God’s love and truth to others, we pray great outcomes will be yielded. We pray that those who are lost and sowing to death will choose the path that leads to abundant life (John 10:10).

The Lord later spoke to my dear friend and instructed him exactly what he was to do in working with the troubled youth—a specific word that has helped him manage his expectations, run in his lane in excellence and trust that whatever seeds are planted, God will be glorified. God knows whose hearts are prepared to receive Him and His truth. God also knows those who will not receive Him, and yet, there are benefits that will come simply from our presence with those people.

My dear friend continues to work with juvenile offenders today and no longer overestimates God’s purposes. God’s purposes, as I am learning, are far different than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9).

When my friend shared with us the Lord’s response said to him, “What outcomes were you expecting?, it took my breath momentarily. It felt harsh. I felt the weight of truth in it. The Lord might as well have spoken those words to me. I’ve written on man’s fallen nature and the consequences thereby that adversely impact our society. I’ve written on that scripture in Ecclesiastes 7:29 that speaks of God creating mankind upright and how man has strayed to pursue his/her own ways.

I know all of this. In my expectation for great outcomes and hoping people will surrender ALL and choose to follow Christ Jesus, I quickly forgot that—in planting seeds or watering a seed that someone else planted—a person is still allowed to CHOOSE whether they will follow God’s will or their own will. They may ultimately choose Satan’s counterfeit paths that masquerade as truth. This has been a sorrowful thing to accept. You have probably felt the Godly sorrow in accepting this as well.

Isaiah55_8-9 clouds

“Choose you this day whom ye will serve;” (Joshua 24:15, KJV)

The freedom to choose is available to all of us. As we continue our work as Christ’s Ambassadors until our last days, some seeds will take root. Others may never. But whatever the outcomes, I am encouraged and you should be too. As we display Christ’s light and love to everyone we meet or speak to, there will be light where previously only darkness existed. God is still being glorified! And when Satan attempts to diminish our walk by trying to make us doubt our effectiveness as Christ’s servants, we should quickly dismiss Satan’s attacks with this scripture:

For God’s gifts and His call (on your life) are irrevocable.- Romans 11:29 

Praise God!! Be encouraged and trust God for the outcomes. Keep being salt, light and truth. Keep planting seeds in love. May you have peace in whatever way He chooses to use you to accomplish His purposes.

God bless you and stay staunch,

Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.

 

Right Where You’re Supposed to Be

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

When God transitions us into new seasons or new spaces, doubt and uncertainty will likely follow. The unfamiliar spaces stretch us, bring discomfort and we may ask, “Lord, is this where I’m supposed to be?” If the process seems too long, we may seek other options to bring about our own resolution rather than trusting in God’s perfect plan for us. We may struggle with “Fear Of a Better Option.”

I can relate. On this past Wednesday’s Voices Against the Grain radio show entitled, “Do You Struggle with FOBO?” (Fear Of a Better Option), I shared with you some of my moments of uncertainty in this new season God has me in. A successful PR professional of more than 10 years who in fall 2015, God led me to enroll in grad school to pursue my Master of Public Administration with a concentration in nonprofit and faith-based management. God is asking me to uncleave from previous, successful crutches to tread a new, unfamiliar path. I’ve cut back on certain volunteer activities, reduced work hours, and seem to have more free time than the legal law should allow!  I get to cook lunch, take naps, go for long walks, do laundry, run errands, counsel and pray for others, do my full-time coursework, and carry out this ministry.

To someone whose been employed since age 15 working multiple jobs at the same time (“3 jobs mon!” impersonating Jamaican voice), going from one thing to the next barely to pause in between, the extra time in the day, the peace, the quiet, and tranquility, unnerved me. I said, “Lord, is this where I’m supposed to be? Lord, what more should I be doing?”  

Trust God has you where He wants you

I’m confident in my spirit that this is His path for me, though thoughts of uncertainty have come. Through deeper commune with the Lord, prayer time, fasting, and words spoken by trusted prayer partners I press forward in courage and confidence. I trust what He has called me to do. I trust that He has me right where I’m supposed to be. Reflecting on Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

If God has you in a new, unfamiliar season, trust that He has you RIGHT WHERE YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE. Our God Who is Sovereign over all including your very steps, has you right where He wants you. He’s the same God who told Joshua and others, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

If anything I’ve learned in this season of transition to encourage you, is this:

  • Whatever God allows in this season is done to conform you into the likeness of His Son Jesus Christ; He will build your faith, refine your character, purge old ways and thoughts that are not of Him.
  • He will not show you the entire staircase but He will lead and guide your steps.
  • God’s calling and gifts on your life are irrevocable (Romans 11:29); He called you to this path knowing that you’re an imperfect vessel (me too).
  • The new season will stretch you, but oh what joy!!
  • Glean, GLEAN everything from this season that you can! All activities, character refining, conversations, discomforts, events, lessons learned, etc., are important for those you will impact in your new territory.
  • Create a hostile environment to deflect the enemy’s fiery darts of doubt through prayer, worship, fasting, commune with the Lord. GO forward in courage and confidence! Remain a moving target to the enemy!

As our Voices Against the Grain ministry turns “3” today, I smile with great joy!! Thank you, Jesus! A blessing that I/we don’t take lightly to pour into you His Word, instruction, love and encouragement. Thank you for each of you who has joined us in this journey—some of you from the very day we launched and boldly said, “Hello” to a public world on May 28, 2013. Thank you for supporting and joining us whether in prayer, comments and likes to posts, retweets, shares, your blog posts, tweets, testimonies shared on our radio show, partnerships, donations and words of encouragement and instruction.

Thank you, and God bless you! We remain vigilant in sharing Christ’s love with the lost and joyful in serving the Lord in “advancing His Kingdom” as the Body of Christ.

Love and Blessings,

Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.