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Getting Out of the Desert

I had an interesting morning. I was out on my balcony praying in the sunshine, looking back over this past year. I remembered the fear, the times of trial, the insecurities and moments of deep doubt. But right next to each of those moments was a victory, a moment of overcoming, of moving forward. God reminded me that all He had promised—and some neat things He surprised me with!–had all come to pass. Now it may not have been in my timing, but neither did I have to wait forever. Sometimes it was even ahead of my timing, but they all brought joy.

It shames me how quick I am to doubt God. At this point in my life He has delivered me from so much, so often, and so thoroughly you would think I would just live in a constant state of surrender and peace. Certainly I reside there more firmly than I ever have before, even during times of deep trial. But I’m still human, and my thoughts still fight against me.

It reminds me of the Israelites marching for 40 years around Mount Sinai, lost. God had delivered them from the Egyptians and had done some remarkable, crazy powerful miracles in front of them (these are the folks Moses took out of Egypt, parted the Red Sea in front of, etc.). Food even dropped out of heaven for them each morning! But they were restless; discontent. They doubted God. They actually longed to be back in bondage because at least they understood all that would lie in front of them. It was walking in faith and not always knowing the outcome they found so very difficult.

I can relate. I catch myself walking around the Mount Sinai’s in my life, falling easily into a well-worn path that sadly leads to the same mediocre or downright bad outcome. And when I arrive at that same point of discontent and misery I can actually feel surprised, like I somehow didn’t realize I would end up there once again. Yet every time I take the reins of my life back in my hands, every time I choose to not trust and surrender, that’s exactly where I end up.

Far from feeling discouraged by all these facts, I felt incredibly encouraged. Why? Because I realized that each and every time, regardless of my actions or my level of faith, God always prevailed. Every time He told me something He made it happen, even when I got in the way. And the wrong decisions, the less than stellar choices He used for good purpose. Nothing was wasted in His hands. Nothing. How cool is that?!

These are the things that deepen my faith and help me to get out of the ruts of my life more quickly. These victories remind me God has something so much greater in store when I have the humility to look away from the mountain (an unhappy but known quantity) and toward God and his plan for me (a happy but often unknown path). These are the moments I know God’s strength is so much greater than mine, and that my life is defined not by my mountain, but by a God who loves me and takes me by the hand, leading me to victory after victory. And as I sat in the warmth of the sunshine, my heart smiled.

For Further Thought: How about you? What is your current mountain? What are some ways you can remind yourself to keep your eyes on God instead of the mountain this week? And in the moments you blow it, remember these scriptures: “Even when we are too weak to have any faith left, he remains faithful to us and will help us, for he cannot disown us who are part of himself, and he will always carry out his promises to us,” (2 Timothy 2:13) and “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been according to his purpose,” (Romans 8:28).

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