Monday, November 10, 2014

Into the Wild.

Hi faithful readers, all 3 of y'all...

Yes, it's been a while since I've laid my life out in print.  This season has been simultaneously abundantly blessed, abundantly full, and abundantly challenging.  To be honest, I haven't written because I simply have not had the words.  I still don't, but in the interest of vulnerability, I am inviting you into a small part of my life right now.

The Bible is pretty clear that God wants to bless us.  Like a father, he delights in His children.  While I don't give much credit to the idea that following God equals a big home, nice car, perfect marriage and easy life, as Christians, I think it is easy for us to fall into the trap of thinking "if the going's good with God, the going's good with me."

Am I making any sense?  Probably not.

Some of you know that there are big things developing on the horizon for us.  Some of you don't.  If you are part of the latter party, don't fret--all will reveal itself in due time.  Let's just say that more than any other time of life, JP and I feel that we are living in the will of God.  That's not to say that we are perfect, that we have audibly heard from God, or that we are not making mistakes along the way.  Simply that we heard a word from the Lord, and in devoting our lives to following it, God has not just opened doors, He has bulldozed entire walls to make openings that we were formerly sure were blocked.

Sounds great, right?  All should be well.  That's what we're told.  That's what we're taught.  One of the dark secrets of the church is that we love to share when we're happy, but we keep to ourselves when the going gets tough.

Well, things are tough.  While we have never been more assured of our purpose in life, we have also never felt more lonely.  Did we hear from God wrong?  Did He forget that He designed us for community?  Did He miss the part in our prayers where we prayed for friendships and support and encouragement?

Or is this part of the journey?  Are we being brought to the wilderness as a test, meant as a roadblock to prevent us from going forward, or is this part of His plan to equip us with exactly what we need?  Is this wilderness journey a detraction from our calling, or confirmation of it?

Over and over and over in the Bible, the Lord leads His followers into the wilderness before BIG things happen.  Moses in the desert with the burning bush.  The Israelites before they inherited the promised land.  Jesus before He began His sermon on the mount.

Stop right there, people.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not much of a wilderness adventurer.  I mean, I own some Chacos, and I've been rock climbing a few times, but I've never spent the night outdoors.  I have literally never been camping.  And I don't feel like I'm missing anything.

I am not enjoying this metaphorical wilderness any more than I enjoy the literal.

Maybe He knows that we need a challenge.  Maybe He allows us to be cut off so that we have no choice but to be dependent on Him.  Regardless, I am choosing to believe this is a blessing and not a curse.

One verse in particular has stood out to me more than any.  After the Israelites were led by Moses out of Egypt, we all know they spent 40 years wandering in the desert.  Sounds mighty depressing.  Sounds like God forgot His roadmap.

But Exodus 13:17 tells us "When Pharoah let the people go, God did not lead them along the road to the land of the Philistines, even though it was nearby; for God said, 'The people will change their minds and return to Egypt if they face war.'"

What did the Israelites gain by journeying into the wild?  They witnessed God as a pillar of clouds during the day and a pillar of fire by night.  They saw God literally part the waters before them.  They filled their bellies with the Lord's provision of manna and quail and drank water from a holy rock.   The 10 Commandments, the law that governed Israel for many generations to come, was given in the desert.  All of these miraculous signs and wonders would never have been revealed if they had simply crossed the border and taken what was promised to them.

So folks, here we are.  We have seen the Promised Land, but we are not there yet.  There is wilderness between us and our future, and while it is dry, and it is desolate, we take comfort in the fact that is also ordained.  Ordained for our benefit, and for God's glory.

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