The Wilderness Way

“So God led the people around by the way of the wilderness by the Red Sea.”
Exodus 13:18

Blink and you miss it in that verse nestled right before the crossing of the Red Sea in the Exodus of the Israelites. Right there, God led them out into the wilderness. It’s where John the Baptist would be called from before birth. It’s where Christ would spend 40 days. It wasn’t new for Moses to be in the wilderness, it’s where he met God.

God was intentional in leading His chosen people out of bondage and directly into the wilderness. There was another route, a more direct one along a road. But they would have encountered the Egyptians’ fortification for defensive purposes there, done long before the Exodus. God knew this, and He knew the Israelites were not prepared for battle…yet.

He knows this about us too. Knowing that the route we see as easier and exactly what we would plan out for our escape from slavery and bondage within this world isn’t for us. That route has a battle on it that we just aren’t ready for, so He leads us out into the wilderness just like Moses and His chosen people.

A few verses later we see exactly what was in store for the people of Israel on the wilderness way:

“And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night.”

He led them out to safety, to security, as a safe place and trusting guidance on their journey. He would part the sea through Moses’ hand. He would provide a way of escape for them. This wilderness way would point directly to depending upon God fully in the journey, for provision, for light…for all of it. This wilderness way was so the Israelites would focus on Him, His Presence with them in the entirety of each step, each moment, each day. In everything.

How often do I even recognize His Presence with me in my own life? In my wilderness, do I see it as a way to be prepared by Him? To be led by Him? To fully acknowledge and depend fully upon His Presence with me in every moment? Do I stop to consider He goes before me, leading my way into and through the wilderness because that’s exactly what He wants for me, and knows this is the absolute best for me?

Excuse me, God.

I don’t feel well.

I have a busy schedule.

My knee has been hurting.

It’s too hot.

What do these things sound like to you? Those are excuses for me. Ones I have uttered when I really just didn’t want to do something. When I didn’t feel compelled or truly wanted to do something.

It’s that way in life all the time. When we are looking for an excuse, any excuse will do. It will fit the situation so we can stay right where we are, in the comfort of our own self. I know I am guilty of it. I will find any excuse not to get up and run in the morning before work, including being tired from the previous day of not working out as well. I will find that my schedule is far too busy to help out another group or area sometimes, simply because I don’t want to do it.

Will God ever ask you to do something you are not able to do? The answer is yes–all the time! It must be that way, for God’s glory and kingdom. If we function according to our ability alone, we get the glory; if we function according to the power of the Spirit within us, God gets the glory. He wants to reveal Himself to a watching world,” says Henry Blackaby.

God’s in the business of using the people He calls. Equipping them for the work they are to do, for what situation they find themselves in with His guidance. If you look at Moses for a second, you’ll see from this side of the story of his life God used him in miraculous ways. But when he first began, there at the burning bush, he kept pointing to excuse after excuse. I know I have thought if I give Him enough excuses He will grow tired of me and ask someone else.

Isn’t the awesome realization that He has chosen you for this particular thing such a great reminder? It doesn’t depend on us to do. It’s on Him to do through us. That He foreknew this would happen at His appointed time. He knew that the circumstances would be in His perfect timing and not any other moment.

Lately I have been reminding myself of that. In the midst of some really trying, exhausting times recently I have had to stop and remember that the Sovereign God knew. He purposed the people who are in it to complete the task He set out before them. He positioned them in such a way to bring about His glory in the midst. To me, that’s pointing it all back to Him. So that none of us get the glory as we shouldn’t. That even in the mundane and in the task, we can be laboring for His glory to shine and not our own.

My prayer is that we would focus on the God who called Moses, Noah and Ruth to work in our lives, in each moment He has called us to in life. That we would walk with Him, leaning into and on Him in every moment, knowing it is not us but Him.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NKJV)

With Blinders On.

“I have nothing to say.”
“I don’t have time.”
“There’s too much to choose from.”

I’ve heard these lines, a lot of times from myself, but also from others a lot. I’m starting to realize that we limit ourselves far beyond what we are capable of in life. We live as though we have these blinders attached to us, and one object in front of us.

We put blinders on to focus and hone in on a specific issue or thing. We limit our vision to this one thing. For a time, that one thing is good. Then suddenly the blinders are gone, but we continue on as if they were not. The focus remains small, cyclical, and begins to eat away at our energy and drive to do.

W don’t take the time to stop and turn our heads. To look beyond this one thing to the options, the vision stretching out before us to provide new opportunities, new interests. Instead we stay within this comfort of safety, however limiting it is for not only us but for those we are leading, those we are seeking to lead.

What if we looked up? What if we looked around? What if we got beyond this one thing to the thousands of other things? What impact could be made by pursuing one more? How would your vision look for yourself? For those you lead?

Why are you striving these days?

Something, in the midst of all the things going on, has shifted in my head.  I’ve had this on my mind since Wednesday, and last night it laid itself out fully before me.  This statement is what caught me by the jaw and really rung my bell:  “Compare the amount of time you worry about what others think and your attempts to please them to your level of concern for what God thinks and honoring Him.”
Much of what I have been doing is an attempt to please others and really strive to meet their standard.  My focus has been on them, and most definitely not on God, nor on pleasing Him.  What I’ve been pushing myself on, and beating myself up over, is the approval of everyone else.  I’ve placed these expectations in God’s arena, fully expecting them to be okay with Him.  I’ve given them free-reign in my life, and they have wreaked havoc over and over again. 

I’ve listened to others, before God.  I’ve let their words matter more than His.  I’ve gotten my intentions out of whack, and forgotten God’s call for my life.  I’ve consistently beaten myself up over how I can please ________.  In all of this, I’ve thought God was the one I was pleasing.  But He’s not been pleased with me on this.  I had blinded myself to what I was actually doing, because it was me doing, not God.  The work that God was doing in me got tainted by all of this.  I cannot continue to do this, knowing now that it’s not God I’m working for in this.  My priority has to be on Him, and what He commands of me, on His work and where that leads me.  I have to stop leading myself, and allowing others to affect that path. 

I must “fall in love with the work God’s called me to, not the results” in order to be pleasing Him, rather than myself or others.