4 Gifts in the Wilderness

In my mind, the wilderness is rarely (and, by rarely, I mean never) a pleasant place to find yourself. The wilderness is the scene in a movie where the creepy music begins playing and the lady running in stilettos from a would-be kidnapper is about to trip over a tree root and fall helplessly to the ground.

A couple years ago, we were housesitting for a friend and I decided to take a walk through the woods. It seemed like a good idea when I began. There came a point, however, when the sun had begun to set and every shadow seemed like something off of a Criminal Minds episode. Let’s just say that the walk back to the house didn’t take me nearly as long as the walk out.

No doubt, you have had your own wilderness experiences.

wilderness

God has recently revealed something to me about the wilderness. The wilderness is not a place of punishment. We think that, don’t we? We look at every struggle and we wonder what we did wrong. We see others living seemingly easier lives and it all seems unfair. I know what you’re thinking – Get outta here with that “unfair” talk. Fine, maybe you don’t use the fair/unfair argument. Whatever. I’m just going to leave it there on the off chance someone else has ever felt that way.

As I study Scripture, I have learned some interesting things about the wilderness. It’s not a place of punishment. But the wilderness IS a place of:

  • Protection: (Exodus 13:17-18) When God rescued His people from the slavery they were enduring, God did not take the quickest route. When I set my GPS, I always choose “quickest route.” But God knew that the quick route held dangers of its own. God chose to lead His people into the wilderness to protect them from the poor decisions they may have made on the fast track home.
  • Passion: (Hosea 2:14) The world is loud and full of distractions. Sometimes, the Lord leads us into the wilderness to remind us of His love for us – to refocus our hearts on Him. He wants to stir up the passion we once had for Him.
  • Prayer: (Luke 5:16) Jesus would pray in the wilderness. In fact, Scripture says that He “often” withdrew to “lonely places.” Have you ever felt incredibly lonely? Could it be that God purposely puts us in those lonely places so that we are perfectly situated to hear from Him?
  • Provision: (Psalm 78:19) If your wilderness season includes financial struggle, there can be a lot of fear and uncertainty. Your God can provide a feast in the wilderness, my friend. God will provide an abundant harvest in a place the enemy can only plant seeds of doubt.

If you are currently in the wilderness, there are three things you need to know.

  1. The wilderness is not an accident.
  2. The wilderness is not for always.
  3. You are never alone in the wilderness.

There are gifts in the wilderness: Protection, Passion, Prayer and Provision.

You are loved. ❤

Stacy

 

 

Trusting God’s Provision

Lack of provision is my biggest fear.

It seems, no matter how many times God provides for my needs, I fear that this time may just be the time that He doesn’t come through. It’s a constant cycle of me fearing, God providing, me repenting, only to end with me fearing once more.

Here I am in Exodus following the children of Israel through the wilderness. I hear their grumbling and, for the first time, recognize it as fear. He freed them, but would He protect them? He protected them, but would He feed them? He fed them, but would He remain with them?

desert

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you…” – Exodus 16:4

The Lord promises His provision. He tells them that, come morning, they would be filled with bread. You would think that they would have rushed out at sunrise to gather up the bread. God had never failed to keep His word to them.

Yet, they seem to look around hesitantly. They see something on the ground, but it isn’t something they have seen before.

When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. – Exodus 16:15

As I read those verses, I just kept thinking that we do not always recognize God’s provision. Perhaps, it’s because we have our preconceived notions of how we thought He would provide. God’s way of providing often includes something new. Maybe it’s a new job that we didn’t even want. A new city. New friends. Sometimes, God may take away something that was no longer working for us in order to provide something better. It can be scary. We have to ask ourselves, “Do we want God to provide or not?”

bread

Make no mistake; God will provide.

Just don’t be afraid when you look around and think, “What is it?”

How to Raise Servants in a Serve-Me World

I can’t think of service without an episode of The Cosby Show popping into my head. Cliff and Claire Huxtable are in the living room and the little neighbor boy shows up. Claire stands up and offers to get her husband, Cliff, a cup of coffee and the little boy gets a shocked look on his face.

“I didn’t think you did that sort of thing, Mrs. Huxtable.”

“What sort of thing?” she asks.

“You know. Serve your man.”

Instantly, Claire is offended and proceeds to tell the boy, in no uncertain terms, that she is not serving her man. The mere thought of serving another person, even her husband, was offensive to her.

The Serving Saviorwashingdishes

Being considered a servant was never offensive to Christ. One of His final lessons to his disciples was one of service. As He knelt before each man and washed his feet, Christ instructed them to do the same for each other.

For I have given you an example, that you should do just as I have done to you. – John 13:15

The problem is that this is contrary to what the world teaches. We live in a what’s-in-it-for-me kind of world. How can we teach our children that there is beauty in servanthood? How can we raise servants in a serve-me world?

  • Teach them to ask, “What can I do to help?” When it is time for my girls to clean their room, my three-year-old sometimes is found wandering aimlessly around the room. She wants to do something, but she doesn’t know what to do. I have taught her to walk up to one of her sisters and ask what she can do to help. The fact is that, left to our own devices, we will be selfish. Servanthood needs to be taught.
  • Let them see you serving. If you have ever tried to sneak the last piece of a pie when no one was looking, then you have discovered that someone is always looking. If you want your children to serve others, then that is what they need to see you doing.
  • Get uncomfortable. I have mentioned my introversion. I have admitted being socially awkward. To serve others, however, we must step out of our comfort zones. It means meeting people where they are and our children need to see us doing just that. Always being comfortable should make us uncomfortable.
  • Serve with a smile. Mother Theresa once said that the miracle was not the work she did, but that she was happy to do it. If we want our children to be true servants, we must instill in them a love of serving. It should be a desire and not an obligation.

We want our children to be healthy and happy. We want them to be well-rounded and productive members of society. We want them to be safe and successful. We want them to take care of us when we are old. {Oh, is that just me?}

Ultimately, however, we should want them to follow Jesus wherever He leads them. If they do that, God will take care of whatever else they need.

But seek first His kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:33

Whether it was the hungry or the helpless, Jesus served them.

Whether it was a brother or a betrayer, Jesus served them.

If we want to raise servants, we need to be servants.

Nothing Says Adult Like Voluntarily Going to the Dentist

I just got back from the dentist’s office. I dread these trips more than I did as a kid. When someone is staring into your mouth with a bright light and a magnifying glass, it is hard to hide your 5 cups a day coffee habit and your aversion to flossing. The truth comes out, my friends, and it isn’t pretty.

The worst part of these trips, however, is not the shiny instruments of death or the way your gums beg for mercy. No, the worst part is what goes on inside your head. And, when I say your head, I totally mean mine. It just makes me feel better to pretend we are talking about you.

So, this is what goes on inside my head during a teeth cleaning.free 1

Do I have coffee breath because that is a dead giveaway?

Where am I supposed to look?

She’s done already? Oh, she is just changing tools.

I’m never coming here again.

Am I supposed to swallow this water she’s pouring into my mouth?

How long am I supposed to close my mouth on that air, spit  vacuumy thing?

Why is she talking to me?

I think I just licked her finger.

She is done! Nope, another false alarm.

I taste blood. Why do I taste blood?

What did she just type into the computer? It’s probably really bad.

I’m never coming here, again.

Was that her stomach or mine?

I don’t know where to put my tongue.

How much are they charging me for this pleasure?

I’m never coming here again. 

Oh, she’s done. That wasn’t too bad.

Six months? Sure, see you then!

That is your glimpse into the mind of a crazy woman. It’s pretty scary.

heart sugar cookie****

In other non-dental {you’re welcome} news, I have been thinking about a verse I read the other day.

And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment. – Luke 7:37

This is a fairly familiar passage of Scripture. A woman known for her sinfulness dares to enter a Pharisee’s house uninvited. Why would she do that? Why would she put herself in a position where she would surely be ridiculed? What made her want to be in a place where she was not wanted? Why was she willing to put herself out there like that?

Why, indeed?

The answer is simple. This woman showed up at that house because Jesus was there. She was not concerned with what others thought or knew about her. She could handle the judgmental glances because her eyes were only on Him. She was willing to get a little uncomfortable in order to get a little closer to Christ. 

It got me thinking.

When is the last time I have willingly been uncomfortable in order to be a little closer to Jesus?

Mom Talk Monday: Where Peace is Found

bread banksOkay, folks. It is Thanksgiving Monday. Is that a thing? I think I just made that up. My point is that the holidays have arrived. For the last few weeks, it has been all fun and planning. It’s been little kids making Christmas lists and grown ups deciding who will bring which dish to the family gathering. Seriously, you have to assign dishes or you will end up with a whole lot of deviled eggs and green bean casserole. Am I right?

So, up until now, it’s been fun and you’ve probably been handling it well. But, now, it’s Thanksgiving Monday and the stress is kicking in.

You’re worried that Uncle George is going to complain about something again.

What if you totally burn the ham like you did last year?

You’re dreading the long drive to so-and-so’s house.

Oh, no, there are only two paychecks until Christmas. How did that happen?

If we aren’t careful, we stress and plan and worry. In our attempts to create the perfect Pinterest holidays, we totally miss the meaning of the holidays. I came across a passage this morning and I immediately thought of my Mom Talk readers because I believe that we moms sometimes forfeit peace in our attempts at perfection.

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ” Would that you had known the things that make for peace!” – Luke 19:41-42

kissesJesus was weeping over the fact that Jerusalem just didn’t get it. If you had only known what would have brought you peace. I wonder how often he speaks the same words over us.

I couldn’t read that verse without immediately thinking of Paul’s words in Ephesians.

For he himself is our peace… – Ephesians 2:14

Peace isn’t found in perfection or presents or people. Peace only comes through Christ. He is peace.

Our children do not need the latest and greatest whatever.

If the turkey is dry and the mashed potatoes are lumpy, so be it.

Bring on the traffic and long check out lines and unending Christmas music on the radio.

But whatever you do, do not let Jesus look at your family this holiday and say, “If they had only known what would have brought them peace.”

Praying you feel the presence of the only One who offers peace.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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