Friday, September 25, 2015

Navigating The Wilderness

I have been given a vision of promise for the future. A goal from God, so to speak. Have you ever been given such a word? Maybe it's the vision of a particular ministry or outreach you will be a part of. If so, then you know what I mean about seeing the possibilities of what will be.

Recently I was reading Acts 7. Stephen is speaking to the Sanhedrin and reminding them of Israel's experience in leaving Egypt and traveling to the promise land. At first the Israelites knew where they were headed - a land where sustenance would be found and the harshness of the Egyptian life could be forgotten. But they took their eyes off the promise and let the worries and discomforts of the wilderness they had to traverse cause them to look back to Egypt as though it was a good thing.

They were so unhappy with being uncomfortable and not knowing what lied ahead that they preferred to consider leaving a God who provided shade in the heat of day, light overhead in the dark of night, and, how can we forget, manna. They wanted to return to poverty and beatings. They even wanted to worship a golden calf rather than the God who had proven Himself over and over again.

You're probably thinking, "How could they ever do such a thing?" The place these people left was awful. Who would even look back when there's the promise of freedom, peace, joy, happiness just ahead? Well, I'm here to say that I was convicted of doing the same thing as I read Acts 7. Now granted, I'm not traveling away from the same terrible things the Israelites experienced. But, I was lingering on the "what if's." My understanding from God was that every time I thought about a different word or action I would've, could've, should've taken I turned my eyes from the promise land and looked back to Egypt, so to speak. I don't want to do that.

I want the better life of the promise land. Don't you? What goal has God given you? Are you just starting out? Know that there will be a wilderness before you get to the final goal. Hopefully, it won't be forty long years for us, but it may feel like it. So no matter what comes our way, let's keep our eyes on the promise of the future and leave the lesser way behind us. May God have greater mercy on you and I as we work to maintain the right focus on the goal He has set before us.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Where Is Peace?

Are you looking for peace? What kind of peace do you want? Do want peace between countries, so that the news won't be filled with who is blowing up cities and the people in them?

I've heard it said that the days of Rome were peaceful times. But if you look closely, you'll see that they used military force whenever and wherever it was needed in order to maintain that peace. I'm sure there were many who didn't think of the Romans as peacemakers.

Right now, we do not live in a time of peace. There are so many groups who want to see the great and mighty countries of the world fall so that their smaller regimes can prosper, and maybe even bring about a religious end to the world. On the one hand, we have leaders saying the current treaty will bring peace, while other leaders warn us of the ulterior motive of the treaty signers. Do you find peace in this? I don't.

So many people are looking for peace to come from their fellow man. That type of peace will always be elusive because man is finicky. He can't even trust himself. Where I do find peace is not from outside sources, but from God.

In recent months I've heard the song "It Is Well With My Soul" more times than I care to count. Each time I sang it or heard it I became more choked up over the song. You can look up both the song and the songwriter here and here. In the midst of complete sorrow and downturns in life Horatio G. Spafford wrote the words to this song. The peace Spafford held onto and wrote about didn't come from his life experiences. In fact, what happened to him would have put most people on tranquilizers nowadays. The kind of peace Spafford leaned on focused on scripture like Psalm 30:11 where God turns wailing into dancing and mourning into joy.

That's what I'm looking for...joyful dancing before God in spite of what is happening in my life. That's the peace I want. Not the temporary peace that comes from a signed treaty which can be wadded up and tossed into the wind at a moment's notice.

And how do I do that? By keeping my focus on God and the fact that the ultimate victory is His. Nothing this life can throw at us, looking at Spafford again, is greater than the peace we can find in God. I just have to keep my eyes on God's victory and off my own shaky path.