The Journey continues…
Out of the Wilderness…
The road from Fort Worth to Granbury was dark tonight. Pitch dark. So dark you couldn’t see the other side unless a car was coming at you. So dark you couldn’t see anything beyond the edge so you hug the center white line praying not to go off the side into the nothingness that is shrouded in darkness and swirling fog. But that center line was the light in the nothingness with little white sparkling stars, reflectors, to guide the way into the nothingness.
The one thing about being guided in is that in the going in, you also are guided out if you just hang on tight that light that guides you and trust. Trust it to see you through. Those are some of the thoughts that wandered through my mind as I clicked off the “stars” that were leading me, the light.
God’s been working on me the last few weeks, I know he has. Sometimes I am just a little dense and I can see him up there slapping his palm against his celestial forehead, saying, “Don’t you get it yet”!? Well, God and I have some pretty good conversations on that stretch of road between Granbury and Benbrook and back again over the years. This morning, it finally clicked and I could hear him shake his head and say, “Finally!” OK, I admit, sometimes I am a little hard headed and so busy talking that I forget to pay attention the signs. Today, I saw them.
You and I all know that when things keep coming at you in a variety of ways and from a number of sources that God is probably trying to get something through our thick skulls.
For weeks, I’ve been making my way through the Old Testament and following the stories of the Exodus. I have spent time in the wilderness and now we are beginning the journey into the Promised Land. This partly has to do with my class, but I am beginning to believe God planned the timing of this, and He had his reasons for me dropping it last semester.
Random and daily devotionals, sermons, random readings, planned readings, snippets used as examples in other classes and in videos are mostly all related to being lead out of the wilderness and into promised land. Heck, four sermons, yesterday in my hour and a half drive into Fort Worth. Yes, you read that right, FOUR, dealt with time in the wilderness, holding on to hope and arriving in the Promised Land. I don’t think God can get much clearer than that.
I liked what Greg said in his sermon Sunday, it took a great act of faith for the person who took that first step as God held back the waters. Put yourself there. I did. And I had to ask myself, with a pillar of fire in front of me and a cloud of smoke behind me, watching the waters suddenly divide themselves, would I have had the faith to take that first step? I honestly can’t answer that question.
What the pieces of the puzzle revealed when they fell into place this morning was I did take that first step this week. I stepped out in faith when I hit apply for a new position as a Mission Co-Worker this week. I looked at it for a couple of weeks. I kept going back to it. One night I woke up from one of those nights where you toss and turn and can’t quite go to sleep and can’t quite wake up and in frustration got up and read Oswald Chambers. Just opened the book and randomly picked a page.
It was Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, asking his disciples to come and watch with me. I pondered that for a while and was struck by the thought, that the position I had been pondering was the Gethsemane of thousands of people. I had been praying “God send me to the hard places”. This position will be to one of the hardest places on earth. Harder than South Sudan.
Whether I am selected for this position or not, we are being called to “come and watch” with God and Jesus. We are being called to watch the Holy Spirit at work in the hard places, whether in our own neighborhoods or far away. We are being called to hug close to that center line and follow the light that leads us through the wilderness to the Promised Land.Follow the light and be the hands and feet that change the world and create a Promised Land for someone else.
And, you know what? I topped the first hill leading into Granbury after coming out of a darkness so dark you couldn’t see the other side of the road or the hills I know that I passed through on either side but couldn’t see. There is a place where you hang for a moment, suspended in time, where the darkness fades away and the lights from the town shine in their brilliance. As I topped it tonight, I realized the cloud of “smoke” was behind me, had protected me and kept me safe on the journey down that long dark road and the “fire” of the lights was in front of me, leading me into “what next”.
I imagine, taking that first step into the parted waters, continuing the journey through the wilderness with all our grumbling and complaining after we come out on the other side being a lot like that. I didn’t think I was in a wilderness, but I guess I have been since I came back and made the decision that I couldn’t return to South Sudan.
I have been so busy being an “Israelite”, arguing, complaining and asking why God wouldn’t just let me go back to “Egypt”, South Sudan, until the last few weeks when I finally let go and accepted what was is behind me and what will be is ahead of me and I will never get there until I let go. Until I trust enough and have faith enough to take that first step into the parted waters.
That is true for all of us I believe, no matter what our “wilderness” we have to step into the waters, cling to the light that leads us through and rejoice when the darkness is behind us, there is hope in the brilliance of the light that lies ahead. Holding fast to the cloud of smoke that was behind us protecting us and the pillar of fire in front of us, leading and guiding us to our promised land. We may not know what that will be, but we will never know until we take that first step in faith.
Thanks be to God!