So, I’m a little behind on my blogging. Ever since I moved out of the dorms last Thursday, I’ve just been going, going, going (in a good way). I never knew a girl could have so many appointments in one week…I’m trying to squeeze everything in before I leave. So far, it’s working : )
You are probably not going to believe this when I tell you, but God has raised $3,850 already! To think that all the details of my trip are coming together in less than 27 days still blows me away. It’s funny when I reflect on the day I got my acceptance letter. They emphasized in the letter to make quick preparations, because the trip begins in 27 days. For the next few days, that’s all I focused on- 27 days, 27 days, 27 days! I got so stinkin’ stressed out and anxious that I was a nervous wreck. Then I started focusing on God. That’s when everything began to fall together. Have you ever heard that quote “Don’t focus on the size of your waves, focus on the size of your God.”? I love that! It’s so true. When you realize just how big and awesome and powerful God is, the circumstances in your life certainly start to shrink in both size and intensity. Soon, those stressful situations get turned into adventures where you get to see God move in ways you could have never imagined. That’s what’s been happening to me. Now, I think it’s kind of fun when something seems impossible to do. Then, I wait in anticipation and say, “Okay, God, I can’t wait to see how you’re gonna pull this one off!” He sure is a lot more creative than I : ) This isn’t to say I don’t still have my moments of doubt- that strikes us all- I just think God has taught me a lot over these past few weeks about resting in His perfect provision and timing.
We studied Deuteronomy 8 at Eikon last week…not my typical book of study, but it was perfect for what I was going through! I felt like I had taken this big step to go to Patmos (and like I mentioned earlier) started freaking out. I was confused and didn’t know if I had made the right decision- I was reluctant to tell some people because it felt like it wasn’t really going to happen. Looking back, it was a whole bunch of the Devil clouding up my vision and causing me to doubt God’s ability. So, basically, I felt like I was just wandering around, in what I like to call “the funk.” You know those times when God seems so far away, but you know for a fact that He’s right there? You know those times when you try your very hardest to pray and study the Bible, but it’s just not “happening”? That’s where I was. I was doing everything I thought was right, but something was missing. Sounds a lot like the Israelites, now doesn’t it?
2 Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.
As soon as the pastor read this, I went “That’s why!” That’s why I’m feeling this way. God hasn’t abandoned me- He’s LED ME IN THE DESERT. HE LED ME THERE! God wanted to see how I would survive on the bare minimum- no warm, fuzzy feelings during worship time- no scenes with His overwhelming presence. How will she react when it seems like everything she “needs” is gone…except for Me? I think a lot of times we get so fixated on the “perfect worship set” or the lighting effects or the pastor who uses crazy illustrations or the people who go to church with us. We forget that it has nothing to do with us or the people around us. Forget all that junk- I just want Jesus! I realized that no matter how put together everything is around me, it all felt like chaos without my eyes fixed in the right place. I remember saying, “God, you feel so far away!” And, then I thought- my relationship with Christ shouldn’t be based on feelings, but on truth. Feelings come and go- blaze and wane- but, truth…that’s here to stay! Clinging to the truth of God’s promises and holding fast to His Word is what gets us though the desert.
3 He humbled you…
He also humbled me. That’s for sure. You know those times when you think, “Finally! I’m doing something right- yes!” Well, God likes to remind us real quick that it’s not us doing the good, but Him. As soon as I tried with my strength, I once again realized that I was incapable. I bet God’s up there going, “I wonder just how many times we’ll have to go over this with her.” Praise the Lord for His loving patience with this kid : )
…causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. 4 Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years.
To say that He caused me to hunger might be an understatement! I had been on this spiritual high for a few weeks and was so used to everything going my way. I bet most of you know this- it’s no secret: it’s so much easier to praise God when everything is good and dandy than when the going gets tough. Isn’t it? So, God did prepare me for the wilderness. He showed me time and time again answered prayers, open doors for opportunities, and friendships that propelled me further into His arms. But when all the cushion around your relationship with Christ is no longer there, how do you react? For me, it was a whole lotta drama queen and not a lot of clinging to the Word. But, that’s what the wilderness is for. To teach us, to humble us, to remind us that He is all we need.
And, I don’t know if you caught verse 4, but the Israelites wandered for FORTY YEARS with clothes that didn’t wear out, with feet that didn’t swell. In the desert. That’s just amazing. So God. He tests us, but He doesn’t stop caring for us. He supernaturally provides for our wilderness experiences, no matter how long they might drag on.
So, a spiritual battle was alive in my heart, and I remember saying on Wednesday afternoon (before Eikon), “Okay, I give up. I’m defeated. I’m sick and tired of trying.” Christian- don’t ever say that! I might as well have said, “Devil, you win. You are victorious over Christ.” Ouch- how that must have broken my Savior’ heart! Jesus died so that I wouldn’t be defeated, yet there I was declaring my defeat. The same lips that sing “Your Grace is Enough” and “Mighty to Save” were saying, “God, you can’t do it.” It’s seriously like an arrow to the heart when I remember my attitude then, but praise God for new mercies and faithfulness each morning!
5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.
After hearing this message on Wednesday, I was reminded of purpose in the wild. God didn’t lead me there to punish or to torture me, but to refine me and develop my character. He’s a God of love, a God whose discipline we should enjoy because it ultimately makes us more like Him. Too bad I was busy throwing a temper tantrum (boy, do I have a lot of growing up to do!).
But, all in all, lesson learned. Thank You, Dad, for seeing the big picture, even if I seem miserable and disappointed in the process! His wisdom never ceases to amaze me, especially when I look back and see His hand guiding me.
So, one last little tid bit…you should read the next part in Deuteronomy 8, especially if you’re “in the wild” right now.
6 Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and revering him. 7 For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills; 8 a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; 9 a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills. 10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.
With great obedience comes great reward. God doesn’t ignore your hard work. When I read this passage, the word that keeps coming to mind is “lush.” God is doing all this to bring us to a lush land, to a promised place where our needs are met and our expectations are widly exceeded!
My wilderness period didn’t last for forty years, because God knew I wouldn’t survive. Each and every day, He’s using life’s situations and trials to develop my character and reveal His character to me. There’s no doubt, I’ll have more wilderness experiences to come, but I should be better prepared. For now, I’ve arrived at the last verse. Praising the Lord for the good He has given me. May I never forget it. Ever.