Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Lessons from the Wilderness :: Part I

I've alluded to it before here on the blog along with my instagram account, but the Lord has very clearly pressed me to share more in depth about this wilderness season I've been walking through and all He's been teaching me. I don't want to say that He's brought me OUT of this season, but He's definitely started moving me through this season - now that I'm being obedient to His voice. 

But before I get into my wilderness story, could you do something for me?

Sometime today, in your bible, would you turn to that page between the Old Testament and the New Testament? The page that may simply say New Testament. I want you to hold on to that page for a second and just stare at it.

Now, think about this :: this page represents 400 years of silence. This page, in the story of God, is where the Israelites did not hear ONE WORD from God. They didn’t see a miracle, they didn’t hear His voice they didn’t hear anyone prophesy. There was nothing. They were waiting for the Messiah.
And when I think about it, I so often we find myself on this page of scripture. Wanting so bad to turn to the good stuff - the better, more active stuff - but God has me right here on this page for His plan and His purpose. Making a way even when I cannot see it.

Do you find yourself here with me today? Do you find yourself waiting to hear from God or feeling forgotten or maybe even a bit fed up?

Last year around this time, God brought a passage from Isaiah 30, along with Jeremiah 19 into my life through multiple sources - so much so that I couldn't chalk it up to coincidence. Both of these scriptures had to do with breaking pottery, which was interesting to say the least, but a little hard to figure out what it had to do with me. So instead of waiting to hear what He was trying to tell me, I decided to move on and forget that it happened.

Do you do that? Keep walking even when you know He has said “stop and wait?” All. The. Time.

Let's be honest - not that I'm ever not - but the last year has been hard. Not hard physically or even circumstantially, but mentally just hard. There has been transition but also lots of stillness. I have felt stagnant and dry. Honestly for really the last two years, but in the last year I’ve been earnestly seeking Him and feeling like He wasn’t hearing me.

A month or so ago, these scriptures started to pop up again. I’d wake up thinking about this Anthropologie mug… about breaking it just to put it back together. It’s a story I read about last year in Angie Smith’s book, Mended. It stuck with me, but I continued to tell myself I wasn't broken. (It sounds ridiculous event to me - of course I was broken.) She needed healing after tragically losing a daughter. It was meant to be therapeutic... her story was one of healing and I didn't feel that I necessarily needed to be healed, so how could this ever help me?

But, let’s be real, y’all. Even though there wasn’t ONE THING that I felt needed fixing, I was still finding myself deep in need of Him. And as women we just simply feel deeply. And I really feel deeply. (MY husband would be shouting an amen if he was reading this).

So this time I resolved to figure out what IT was. Something was going to have to change to get me out of this emotional black hole I felt like I was in. Battling the feelings of not enough, less than and so on. All things I’m sure most women identify with.

So I broke my mug. This beautiful mug that Jeff had bought me for Christmas.  There were no angels singing, no a-ha moment, no trumpets blowing from heaven. I was - in all honesty - a bit disapointed. I thought - here we go again, God not showing up.

But then as I began to read through the scripture passages over and over again, putting the mug back together, I determined to still myself until I heard a word from Him. (And then of course, my daughter walked in and said "mommy, can I help?! Let meeeeeeee help!)

Then God did something miraculous… He began to teach me through the Old Testament, y’all. It wasn't right then - like instantaneous or anything - but over the course of several days that turned into a couple of weeks. I’ve often wondered how the abstract Old Testament stories of genealogy and sacrifices could ever be applicable to my daily life. But as I began to read + pray, He began to show me how similar this season of life has been to the season the Israelites walked through immediately after they got rescued from Egypt.

A wilderness.

Do you feel like those Israelites who didn’t hear from God for 400 years? Or the ones that are wandering out in the middle of the desert with one option - to follow God for every step they were taking?

I found hope through there story - and there is hope for you today.

What is a wilderness season, you might ask. I’m a word person, so I love definitions and the Webster’s dictionary definition of wilderness is this: “a wild and natural area in which few people live”.

So think about it.

Have you ever walked through a season of life that no one - or very few people - could walk with you through? No friend could understand completely and no spouse could make you feel better? No one seemed to have the right words and no one could feel the same way except for you.

It could be a season of transition. I know there are a lot of y’all out there who are new moms and struggling with what that means for you as a women. Maybe you just married off your last child or maybe you’re an empty-nester. Maybe the roles have reversed and you are now taking care of your parents? A season of transition can feel very lonely and maybe a bit confusing.

What about a season of waiting? Are you waiting for a job change or direction in your marriage? Maybe you feel like you’re waiting for the right one to come along? Are you waiting for your kids to grow up and be more independent? Are you waiting for a man? Seasons of waiting can feel long and extremely unfruitful, can’t they?

Maybe you’re coming off of a tragedy in your life and you don’t even know where to start the healing process. Healing is often a road that we must walk alone. Even with great friends next to us to encourage, seasons of wilderness are times that we end up having to put one foot in front of another all by ourselves. With only God there to experience it with us and guide us through it.

In my experience, and from what I’ve read in scriputre, wilderness seasons tend to come right after spiritual highs. Even with the Israelites, who I’ll get to in a bit, they had just experienced a MASS Exodus from the bondage they had experienced for 400+ years in Egypt under Pharoah’s leadership. They had seen the 7 plagues take place and then miraculously, when all hope seemed lost, Pharaoh came to his senses and let God’s people go.

Paul experienced dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus and then retreated for a few years to get to know God before beginning his world-altering ministry. Even Jesus, right after he was baptized, retreated to the wilderness and was tempted for 40 days before returning and beginning his three years of radical ministry.

So let me ask one last time today - are you walking in a season of wilderness? I'll share more of my story throughout the rest of the week - but today, reflect on your season and all of the ways that God has shown up. If you're like me, your instant thought might be - "Becky, let me tell you all the ways He hasn't shown up." But if there is ONE lesson I've learned the past few weeks, it's that He has been feeding me manna DAILY that I wasn't seeing because I chose not to. 

Look for your manna today. Reflect on how He has shown up throughout this season and then let's chat again tomorrow. I'd love to hear your wilderness story below if you'd be willing to share.

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