So much of life is waiting. . .

As a Christian, I am waiting for a lot--for God to do His refining work in me, for Jesus to return, for me to GET how much God loves me and for me to see what He is doing . . .

What to do in the meantime? I have learned much about what the Lord is trying to teach me, tell me and show me through the discipline of daily time spent reading the Bible. So often we make this time harder than it has to be.

This blog was born out of wanting to share what God is showing me and wanting to be an example that daily time with God is not a deep or mysterious thing (well, every once in a while it can be), but simply a time to read scripture and note what jumps out at you that day. We don't have to be scholars or super-holy or ministry leaders to do this. Some days I hit the jackpot and others I come up empty--but only by persevering do I give God the space in which to speak and myself the stillness in which to hear and obey.

As of June of 2017, I've now decided to include parts of our adoption journey, which is, so far, yet another chapter of waiting.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Walking in Confidence or Complaint?

Last summer I got to sit in on the second day of the Willowcreek Leadership Summit, and one of the speakers was Jeff Manion, pastor of Ada Bible Church, who spoke on "The Land Between." The "land between" refers to the time the Israelites spent in the desert before they entered the Promised Land. As a result of hearing Manion's message, I am now reading his book titled The Land Between. The subject of the book addresses why God allows the transitional in-between times in our lives and about how we should handle these times.

When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, God purposefully did not lead them home a direct way (Exodus 13:17-18):
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, "Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt." But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea.
I have had my own times of wilderness and of traveling the land between. Some journeys seem to take so much longer than I ever thought they would. I wonder a lot why God allows some trials to last for years.

One of Manion's premises in his book is that God was trying to teach the Israelites to trust Him. They needed water, He gave it to them. They needed food, He gave it to them. However, the people didn't learn to trust. Every new need was met not by asking the Lord to provide, but by complaints which assumed that the Lord was not going to meet their needs. There is a quote on p. 141 that I have been thinking about this morning: "Hardship intended to build trust results instead in contemptuous complaint."

Part of hardships, big or small, is to show me that God's love and provision can be trusted, and to beckon me to go to the Lord and ask for what I need. Like the Israelites, I often complain first, assuming that God will not help me. Sometimes I don't trust the Lord to meet the need, and sometimes I cravenly reject the provision the Lord gives, wanting something else instead, like the Israelites who grew sick of manna and asked for quail (which they received, and along with it a plague that killed many of them). When I react in such a way, I am rejecting the Lord--I am saying that my way is better, and that He is not enough.

The idea of trusting God in hardships sounds so holy, yet works itself out with much blood, sweat, and tears. I have to trust God when someone I love dies after I have begged and begged for healing? I have to go to God believing in His goodness when, yet again, the answer is "No."? I have to believe there is a purpose to the pain when my brothers and sisters in Christ sin and hurt me and I don't even know why? I think the Lord wants us to come to Him and cry out with our honest feelings. Moses did, Elijah did, Jesus did. He wants to give us what we need. My choice is believing that what God gives IS what I need, even when my heart disagrees, and believing that a trusting and loving relationship with Him is worth more than whatever good thing I want.

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