Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Lead Me

Wrapped in a pink blanket she was laid in my arms. The room was quiet. My husband’s face showed the anguish I would experience in days to come, but at that moment, I was the proud parent of a baby girl. A soft covering of black hair covered her small head. “She has long fingers,” I said as if it mattered.

That cold November day was the beginning of the most vicious attack on my faith. One year and two months to the date I had lost two children before they would have a chance to see the world. I considered myself a strong Christian, but the loss of my second pregnancy placed my beliefs on trial. Everything I believed about God and who He was caved in on me. How could a God that said he loved me take away another child? I felt my trust in Him faltering immeasurably.

 Could I trust a God who said He loved me but allowed pain to come into my life once again? I found myself facing a fork in the road. I had so many issues with betrayal in my past from loved one’s who had hurt me, that the last thing I could have ever imagined was God betraying me—especially because He knew how messed up I already was. The betrayal left a chasm between me and Him.

I wrestled with God about what His word said and the contradiction I felt regarding His faithfulness and love. How can He say He loved me, seen the pain I had experienced the year before and take another child away from me. In my heart and mind, it just didn't make any sense. I felt as if a tremendous undertow of distrust took me under.  I was drowning in the loss of my second child and the loss of my God.

Paul’s words, “What shall separate us from the love of God,” rang in my ears. I thought I had faith, but when this trial overtook me, I realized that I was not equipped to handle it. Was this going to be the breaking point where I would remove myself from God? A mighty battle ensued between faith and unbelief. I felt like a babe in Christ when it came to this fiery trial. The mere thought of God not loving me enough to keep me from this pain was more than my emotions could handle. That wasn't the loving God I believed in. I was angry, but in my affliction and confusion, God lead me into the wilderness.

I always said I was lost in the wilderness, but in reality I was never lost. God knew where I was at all times. He used this time to show His faithful love towards me. It was here where He taught me, restored me, and matured my faith and understanding of who He was. There is no one else to depend on but God in the wilderness, so He has our undivided attention—a time of being lead back to the cross.

“From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2

Wilderness Living

My study through the book of Exodus brought me to the story of when God brought Israel out of Egypt. I have made some notes that I observed in my reading about the wilderness that I wanted to share with you. It is my hope that it will guide you into having a different perspective of wilderness living when you find yourself there.

God leads us into the wilderness (Exodus 13:17-18). When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God lead Israel out of Egypt and into the wilderness.

I believe God leads us into the wilderness when we’ve lost our way. God knows what we need to bring us back to Him; therefore He directs our steps into that desert land. It is a time of our total dependence on Him for everything. God purposely brought Israel by way of the wilderness because He is a faithful shepherd and will not let us go astray. He knows that when we are seeking answers in our difficulties, the wilderness is the place to find them. The wilderness is about remembrance. He wants to bring us back to Him by calling to our aching hearts and have us recall His love for us.

“Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You [are] the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.” Psalm 25:5

“For You [are] my Rock and My Fortress; Therefore, for Your name’s sake, Lead me and guide me.” Psalm 31:3

“Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your tabernacle.” Psalm 43:3

There is only one way out of the wilderness and that is through it (Exodus 13:18 NLT).

There is no other way out but to go through. Spiritual growth happens only when we go through the situation. Escape only causes delay. The time in the wilderness is just us and Him. It is where faith is strengthened. It can be grueling at times, and the desire to give up can be strong. We may fall into complaining and murmuring when we don’t understand what the Lord is doing. In Exodus 14:11-12, Israel cried out to Moses saying that they have been brought out of Egypt to die in the wilderness. Wilderness living doesn’t always make us feel safe. In fact, it may make us feel the very opposite. We may experience times when we don’t feel God’s presence and feel as if we have been left to die in the desert but rest assured that He has never left our side.

“And the Lord, He [is] the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

The Lord calls us to follow Him in the wilderness (Exodus 13:21-22). God led Israel through the wilderness with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. This allowed Israel to follow Him day or night.

The Lord goes ahead of us so all we have to do is keep our eyes on Him. God doesn’t leave us alone for a second. It reads that God did not remove this pillar. He knows the wilderness, we don’t. So, we must keep our pillar before us at all times. His word is our pillar. Reading the word daily is essential when we’re in the wilderness because without it, we can fail to follow His leading. The New Testament reads over and over again about following Jesus. There is no other way. We can go off and follow a false god that can promise us a salve for our hurts, but God alone is the only true salve that brings about the healing that we most need.

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me” John 10:25

The Lord positions Himself between us and the enemy in the wilderness (Exodus 14:1-20). As Israel is making their way through the wilderness, they find themselves in hot pursuit by Pharaoh and his Egyptian charioteers. It is at this time that the pillar that was leading them moves and positions itself between the Egyptians and the Israelites.  

The enemy knows that we are vulnerable in the wilderness and believes this will be the perfect place to overtake us. But God uses this opportunity to flex His muscle and show His might on our behalf. He wants to show us that He can deliver us—He wants us to see His glory. He places Himself as a barrier between us and the enemy. God wants to save us for His name sake. God’s plans are so above our understanding, and He calls us to trust Him even when things look hopeless. He knows how the enemy works, just as He knew what Pharaoh was going to do. Nothing escapes God. So, when it looks as if there is no hope of escape God already has it under His control.

“Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; Make Your way straight before my eyes.” Psalm 5:8

“For My thoughts [are] not your thoughts, Nor [are] your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

“Do not be afraid, Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord” (Exodus 14:13). Moses called out to Israel these last words before parting the Red Sea and taking Israel over dry land.

These are words that we need to remember when we a traversing the wilderness. The Lord Himself will fight for us. He will be our vindicator. Times of wilderness living can sometimes cause us to hyperventilate, panic, fret, grow anxious, doubt, complain, and on and on…but fear not because He will never leave us of forsake us.

It has been 22 years since I lost my daughter in a stillbirth, and her life remains with me to this day. People say that when they go through a difficult trial in their lives that they would never wish it upon anyone, and yet they would never trade that time for anything in the world. You don’t come out of the wilderness the same way you went in. You come out even better. In the wilderness, God taught me that faith is not about my will but His, about trusting that He will never leave us or forsake us. This trial by fire removed more dross from my life that I might reflect more of His glory. Little did I know that my daughter’s death would be the greatest gift she could give me. Truly God leaves nothing wasted.

“Yet indeed I also count all thing loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them rubbish, that I may gain Christ” Philippians 3:8

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