"Afterward Moses and Aaron went in and told Pharaoh, Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, Let My people go, that they may hold a feast to Me (worship) in the wilderness." (Exodus 5:1)
Over the past week I have come across this verse multiple times. One time a friend texted it to me. Another time my Pastor preached from it and just yesterday (2-09-16) I was listening to a podcast and the speaker mentioned it. Now at this point I’m like, “Okay Lord, what is it that you’re trying to tell/teach me through this verse?"
As I leaned into the verse a particular word jumped out at me....
When I generally think about the Israelites being held in captivity by Pharaoh, the next thought that naturally comes to mind is the Lord promising to rescue them from Pharaoh and deliver them into a “good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8). Rarely do I think about the Israelites being freed from captivity and lead into the wilderness to worship the Lord.
It's because when the Lord is doing something new in my life and He is taking me to a place I’ve never been before, I've often envisioned that it's going to be better than where I’ve been. Ultimately it is, but sometimes a wilderness experience is the prerequisite to the promise land.
I moved to California from Texas about four months ago. I've never lived outside of Texas before so I was ecstatic at the idea of moving to another state and experiencing all of the newness and excitement that relocating provides: the beaches, weather, food, new scenery, and of course...Hollywood! I couldn't WAIT!!
It was a total shock to my system when I arrived and immediately started experiencing hardships. Everything was foreign to me. I was lonely and had no familiarities. I was completely out of my comfort zone! What shocked me the most was spiritually I felt completely disconnected and abandoned by the Lord.
I couldn’t understand how obedience could lead to such discomfort or how following the Lord could lead me feeling lost and confused. Just like the Israelites did when God led them out of Egypt, I grumbled and complained. A lot! I would be lying if I said I was completely out of that place. However, the Lord has been so gracious and consistently consistent in teaching me some valuable lessons about the wilderness.
The wilderness is the place where we are forced to abandon the familiarity and comforts we are so accustomed to which are those cravings and bad habits. You know, it's those unhelpful appetites we tend to develop over time. The wilderness is where preparation will occur, dependency will be birthed, character will be built, and our faith will be strengthened.
I’m not sure what situation you’re currently in right now or what your wilderness looks like, but please be comforted in knowing this:
1. The Lord is always at work no matter how many times we feel the Lord is silent. We typically grow weary and frustrated because we aren’t sensing and feeling His active movement in our lives and we aren’t seeing the manifestations of our prayers come alive. Be encouraged because here's the truth...HE IS NEVER STILL! He is always working behind the scenes on our behalf. Always! (Read John 5: 17, 19-20.)
2. The Lord knows what He’s doing: "The Lord took the Israelites through the wilderness because He wanted to protect them from the Philistines" (Exodus 13:17)
3. The Lord is with You. It’s less about where we are in life and more about WHO is actually with us.
Be encouraged my friend and know that the wilderness is not your/our final destination. God has a purpose for the wilderness and although it may seem like nowhere at the time, it is somewhere if that’s the place where the Lord has led you/us to be.
So trust Him, even in the midst of not understanding Him.
Praying for you,
"I decided to join the vision of A New Me: Transparently, Abundantly, because of one reason...Dr. E's (but I call her "Poog":) heart. Since the first day we met, her love for the Lord and for His people has been extremely evident. Dr. E (Poog:) is a woman of excellence, so I was confident that anything she put her hands on would be done well and would be done with an great deal of love. She is a good steward and can be trusted and for that, anything she asks of me, my answer will always be, yes!" -Antrenette Carr
Get ready to embrace “A NEW ME: Transparently, Abundantly.”
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