Tuesday, October 4, 2011

But like the fickle Israelites of old...

by Steven

Let's face it: sometimes this journey sucks.  For me, it is tempting to associate the cause of the difficult seasons with God.  Nevertheless, when I think of it like a father leading his family across the U.S. frontier in the 19th century, it helps give me some perspective.  The wife and children must have at times resented Dad for the trials they were dealing with.  After all, it's his fault for bringing them west.  "Why couldn't we have stayed in Virginia like all the normal people," the family whines.  But the father knows (at least, our Father knows) what joys, riches, and beauties lie ahead.  He knows that rest will come, along with the security and peace the family longs for.  He also knows what they are leaving behind and how, in the long run, those things will not serve them best.

There are a lot of reasons why the journey is downright unpleasant at times; for some folks it is unpleasant most of the time.  Here again is why we need to be reminded that God never promised an easy path; He only promised that He would lead us and be with us.  I wonder if so many of the disappointments we endure come about because of having wrong expectations and not being satisfied with His presence.  We so quickly doubt that His presence is near and then blame Him for leaving us.  

However, one of the foundational and paramount claims of the Christian faith is the truth that God is near -- "God with us."  Of course, this reality is always easier to grasp when we sense or feel His presence, or when we can see some sort of manifestation of it.  There's nothing like a miracle or an internal wave of holy bliss washing over our soul to assure us that God is indeed nearby.  But like the fickle Israelites of old, we panic and doubt not only His presence, but sometimes His very existence, when our journey becomes seemingly unbearable.  Meanwhile, He just keeps loving us and sticking around in spite of our doubts.

Honestly, back in the Spring I thought for sure that by now, October 2011, I would be happily employed, serving in a vocational ministry position.  I would verbally assure Sarah that by Summer's end, we would have a steady income and be settled in a house and location that we'd call home for a while.  I was confident that God had good things ahead of us and that those good things would be materialized by now.  It saddens me that my assurances to Sarah have not yet become reality.  I am sad for her sake.  I hate how hard this is for her.  I'd be lying if I said I don't feel like I have failed her.

All the predictable questions have gone through my head many times.  Where did I go wrong?  Is this happening because of sin in my life?  Which sin? Am I over-spiritualizing this whole thing?  Have I prayed and fasted enough?  Am I waiting on God or is He waiting on me?  Is this just our lot in life and cross to bear?  Will things ever really change?  Would things be better if I had been born with a monkey tail? (A little comic relief was needed.)

But our current circumstances and status is not the end.  Heck! It isn't even real - not compared to the reality of His presence and Kingdom.  Sure, it feels real and I'm not suggesting that our debts are only in our heads.  Certainly, our lenders and utility companies don't think it's just in our heads.  But there is a greater reality, a greater "circumstance" that encompasses us -- GOD, our Heavenly Father.


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