A few weeks back I was encouraged to watch the Priscilla Shirer bible study One in a Million. My Aunt Susan had just finished the study with a group from her church and she graciously lent me the videos at the very second I needed them most.
Thank you Aunt Susan.
Today I felt compelled to write a little bit about my insights and experience from the study as I hope it brings encouragement and confidence to some of you reading this, others enduring some sort of trial or difficulty. The study chronicles the journey of the Israelites from Egypt to the promise land, their 40 years wandering in the wilderness. Ugh. Not a particularly pleasant time, but God was there for every second of it teaching and moving his people closer to Him .
Here are a few things God has taught me through their experiences and mine over the last few weeks...
Learning #1: We all go through wilderness times and we always will. These times are purposeful and develop potential in us we would have not had otherwise.
At first, this is very depressing information! I mean really, who wants to be in the wilderness? Who wants to have hard times? I told a friend a few weeks back that I wished life was just a slow, steady uphill journey instead of continual ups and downs. Circumstances are great one day and then they plummet to dismal in a moments notice. It leaves us constantly wondering, "Where is God in all this? Is He here?" Wouldn't it be great if things just always got a little bit better instead of ever getting worse? Of course. The truth of the matter however is that circumstances will never be a slow steady uphill, but our relationship with Jesus can be - always growing closer to Him and listening more intently for His voice and direction. This brings me a peace that life's circumstances never will. Growing closer to God is a very painful process that requires self-sacrifice, but knowing Him is worth it. He wants us to be more and do more than we could every imagine.
God is predictable in His character, but unpredictable in His activity. The circumstances around us do not in any way correlate to God's ability or greater purpose. He knows no bounds, His ways our greater than our ways, too great for us to understand. God is always working in us and for us even when life seems upside down. ALWAYS.
Learning #2: The wilderness is not the barrier to the promise land, wandering is the barrier.
How easy it is to get completely caught up and distracted by circumstances and difficulty and take our eyes off God and who we know Him to be. This is when fear and doubt creeps in. Fear of what could happen, fear of losing something or someone, fear of losing control. Doubt that God will provide or worse, doubt that He is with us and cares at all. When we already feel down and shaken, beaten up by strife and pain, Satan takes a whack at us and crushes our faith with fear and doubt. Fear is simply the enemy's attempt to keep us from doing what God wants us to do. Don't give in to it! We know God does not abandon anyone who searches for Him. God loves his kids!!! And He wants to work miracles and bless us. Fight to know God better through those times instead of letting it drown you and handicap your belief in Him and miss the miracles He has in store.
Learning #3: Even while you are still in the wilderness, start living today like God has already performed the greatest miracle in your life.
For weeks I have been praying for so many things, asking God to move in big ways and small ways, asking God to work creatively on our behalf, asking God to carry our burdens and bring us peace. I have been waiting. And I hate waiting. I hate waiting in check out lines at the grocery store so needless to say I hate waiting on God to work miracles! :) But I am willing to wait because I want what He wants, I want His best. Exercising patience and trust while you wait is good, but we also should exercise a firm faith that He will get us through and open a door even when we cannot see a single door at all (or room for that matter!). This is true, lasting faith. Belief in the unseen. Belief the impossible can and will be possible. Child-like faith. Trusting Him like Joshua did when they had to cross a roaring river, trusting God to deliver the land of milk and honey.
My God is the same God and he can do the same for me. He wants to do the same for me! How crazy is that? God's presence and power are not saved and bound to the pages of the bible. He still works like that. God wants us to not just say we believe He will provide, but act like it even before we have what we need. It sounds crazy, but he wants us to go out on that limb for Him so He knows we really do place our life in His hands without reservation.
I want to be that one in a million.
The one who believes God, looks for His footprints, and trusts that He is doing a mighty work in me and outside of me.
I want to be that one in a million that lives a life free of fear and anxiety, free of anger and confusion.
I want to live a life consumed by God's promises instead of this world's failings.
I want to be the one and I hope you do too.