There are times in my life when the stories of people in the Bible have resonated with me deeply. Where I see them in me and me in them, where their successes are my success and their struggles mirror my own.
As I sit here, occasionally resting my forehead on my desk I come to realize that today I’m not an Esther, a David, a Deborah. I’m an Israelite in the wilderness. And not a Caleb or Joshua or Moses, but one of the people that sometimes when I’m feeling virtuous, I think I’d never be like. Nope, right now my life and my state of being resonates with one of Israelites who when faced with the Promised Land before them and God’s faithfulness behind them, says “No way, nope, I love manna and pheasant is nice, and it’s not so bad, it’s a dry heat.”
And it’s hard to admit, because I want to be a Caleb or a Joshua but my impulse right now is to skulk on the outskirts, look longingly at the desert, and plot to steal a camel to get the heck out of sight of the Promised Land.
It’s been a year. A year of deep changes where God called us out of a place of ministry we loved into the unknown. And we followed. We’ve settled in a place, and it’s a good place. God has provided in ways beyond our asking, both for us and our children. There are friends and potential for ministry and all sorts of good things here.
But, as we begin to seek God and ask “where will you settle us next?”, I find my heels grasping the dirt and digging deep trenches. Because I’m scared of the Promised Land.
Isn’t it amazing how we so quickly forget the bigness of God within the limits of our own imagination? When we left the church where we pastored happily for 7 years, we knew that for God to call us from there meant that there was something so good for us elsewhere. So we moved and settled to wait. But as we begin to look around us for what God has next, after this time of wait-full suspension, I’m timid.
I’m timid because I don’t know what the future holds. I’m cringing from change, even though God has abundantly provided for us in this present circumstance. I’m worried that the ample provision that God has offered me in the past, new ways of seeing, ministering, and being, somehow won’t work this next time.
Because what if it doesn’t. What if we read God’s desires wrong. What if we make a mistake. What if…what if…?
When the Israelites approached the Promised Land, they saw their finiteness, not God’s infiniteness. They saw to the edge of their own imagination and not beyond into the glimmer of God’s creativity. They saw their own impossibilities and missed God’s possibilities.
My head knows, but my heart fears. I start to believe the enemy’s doubts that creep in and think “God was in that, but what if he’s not in this. What if we fall?”
But then I remember, a conscious remembering. I remember God’s faithfulness, his presence, his calling on my life. His way of provision that was beyond my understanding.
“But as for you, Israel my servant,
Jacob my chosen one,
descended from Abraham
I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying, ‘You are my servant.’
For I have chosen you and will not throw you away.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:8-10
The God of the universe calls me friend. He has chosen me and will not throw me away. I am precious to him, you are precious to him! No matter where we wander or where God takes us, he is there with us.
When the Israelites, for their doubt, were sent back to wander the wilderness, God went with them. As he led them out of Egypt, as he led them to the Promised Land, to the wilderness and back again. He was with them. He was their God and they were his people.
I am his child, his friend, he will uphold me and see me safely through. He desires good things for me and created me to serve him joyfully. He is with me, and he is my God.