What we see is not what we get

I just recently returned from a trip to Africa. I went over there with a good friend of mine named Michael. We went to help put in a well and a church building in a rural community in Zimbabwe. It seemed like absolutely nothing went according to plan on this trip. We had a well defined timeline for all of the projects, but it seemed like every day we were running into some kind of new issue that pushed that timeline back. This was especially true of the well.

We had a plan to drill to 120 meters into the ground in order to have substantial water for the well. We expected to strike water anywhere from 90 meters to 120 meters. So as the drilling crew inched closer and closer to 90 meters in depth, we all pulled up some chairs and waited to see water erupt from that hole. However, the water show never came. We watched as they drilled meter after meter and saw nothing but dry dust coming from the hole. They even went a little deeper than our original 120 meters, but no water came. Or so we thought.

It was a devastating feeling. I think every single person at the site was having a few words with God. We could not quite understand why He would ordain such a project, and then not provide the critical water for the community. How would He allow us to come half way across the world, representing dozens of people who gave money to drill this well, only to spend thousands of dollars on a dry hole in the ground? Did we just not hear Him correctly? Were we not showing enough faith? Was there some sort of sin that was blocking His blessing? These were questions that we were all asking ourselves. The people in the community and the church staff were a bit discouraged, and so were we.

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Then came the long talk Michael and I had the following morning. After going through the whole list of questions mentioned above, we settled on one thing. We decided that we were going to trust God. Believe me, at that moment He didn’t “feel” trustworthy. We knew that His word says that He is for us and not against us, but at that moment it felt like He was against us. We knew from His word and from past experiences that our God is always faithful, but what we saw with our own eyes did not line up with that truth. However, at the end of the day, we decided to take God at His word. This project was ordained by Him, and nothing is going to stand in the way of His plans. We decided to believe that He was going to complete the well, and we declared it in faith even though we could not see it.

Shortly after that conversation, we called up the geologist who had originally surveyed the land. That is when the man explained to us the condition of the ground that we were drilling into. Typically, what one would expect to see when drilling a well is a huge eruption of water coming up from the hole when the drill breaks through a fracture that holds water. However, in this situation, that was not the case. The geologist explained to us that this ground actually had several underground streams, so to speak. Because of the nature of those streams and the pressure of the drill, the water was being pushed away from the hole during drilling. He proceeded to tell us that there was probably water in the hole and we just didn’t know it.

We decided to rig up a little device to drop down the hole to measure the water level, and low and behold we discovered that there was a considerable amount of water in the hole. It was incredible. The whole time that we were criticizing God and complaining to Him about what we could see from the surface with our physical eyes, He was being true to His word and His promises about 60 meters below the surface.

Shortly after this whole incident took place, the Pastor of the church in Zimbabwe asked me to preach at the service that Sunday morning. Almost instantly, Holy Spirit put a message on my heart regarding the well. The premise of the entire message is that what we see and feel is not what determines the truth about our incredible God. Rather, it’s what His word says about Him. Sometimes, because of selfish motives and a limited perspective, what we see is not actually what we get. And that is a good thing! For example, what we saw was dry well. What we saw was an unfulfilled promise and a reason to doubt our God. However, that is not what we got. What we got was yet another situation where our God proved faithful and true to His word. What we got was another example of our Heavenly Father’s goodness.

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What we see is not always what we get. In fact, what we see is rarely what we get, because we often get far better than what we see. Our spiritual enemy would want nothing more than for us to lose heart and to lose faith based on what our circumstances tell us, but our God’s goodness, grace and mercy goes so far beyond what we can see from our worldly perspective.

During the message, I shared about a time last year when my wife was dealing with a debilitating neck injury from a car accident. All the doctors were telling us that it was just something she was going to have to learn to deal with. They were simply trying to help her manage the pain. But our Bible said something different. Our Bible said that Jesus came to heal the sick. Therefore, we prayed and believed that God would heal her. For months and months we prayed, but the healing did not come. So what do we do? Do we quit praying? Do we start trying to rationalize why God’s word just doesn’t apply to this situation? Or do we continue to believe and pursue the truth in His word despite the fact that our circumstances don’t seem to line up with that? We decided to keep praying. We decided to keep believing that God is who He says He is. Guess what? God eventually did heal her miraculously and completely, despite what the doctors said.

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So the question that I asked the congregation in Zimbabwe is the same question that I want to ask today.

What is that thing in your life where the circumstances don’t seem to line up with the truth of God’s word?

For example, even though God’s word says that Jesus came to give us life to the fullest, do you maybe not feel like you are living life to the fullest? Even though God’s word says that Jesus came to set the captives free, do you still find yourself in bondage to some sort of addiction or sin? Is what you are seeing just not lining up with the truth in His word? If so, you can rest assured that our God is faithful to His word. Our God does what He says He is going to do, and you can trust Him. Don’t be afraid to keep believing for that breakthrough, even if your circumstances are trying to deceive and distract you. Just like the dry dirt that we were seeing was not what we were actually getting, what you are seeing is not what you are actually getting. You are getting something far better!

2 Kings 6: 15-17
When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.
“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

Written by Brian Maisch

I have a heart for setting people free from spiritual bondage and world oppression. I believe that the radical love of God manifested through his people can transform the world, and I believe that journey begins with us on our knees in a place of humble submission to God’s will.

2 thoughts on “What we see is not what we get

  1. Good stuff Brian. So so true. We walk by faith and not by sight. Our faith is tested in moments when the expected results don’t come as anticipated within the time frame of our plans.
    It is not faith at play when all happen within range of our “power” and plans. God operates outside our sphere of timing because ALL things work together for good…

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