Monday, May 25, 2015

When Faith Falters and Worry Sets In

I sometimes wonder if I'm really using my life the way God wants me to. I wonder if he's leading me and if I'm following correctly. If I am following correctly, how come I end up feeling like I'm in the middle of a wilderness sometimes?

We all go there. Like the Israelites, we ask God if he brought us out of Egypt and into the wilderness just to let us die.

He didn't. Not in the case of the Isrealites, and not in our cases today.

Here's how I know:

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, "Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt." But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. (Exodus 13:17-18, ESV)

We can learn a lot from the Isrealites' wilderness experience that applies to us:
  1. God leads his people. And how did he lead them? Back then, he did it by a cloud during the day and a fire during the night "to give them light" (vs 21). In John 8 and 9, Jesus says he's the light of the world. In our times of discouragement, he's still our blazing pillar of fire today, accessible to us through his Word and through fellowship with other believers.
  2. God knows his people's limitations and leads accordingly. When they first left Egypt, war would've derailed the nation of Israel. They outwardly equipped themselves for it, but God saw through their armor. He also sees through ours. I may think I'm equipped for publication, but until he says it's time, it's not in my best interest.
  3. Ending up in a wilderness does not mean we're outside God's leading. Just because things look grim or hopeless or hard does not mean it's time to turn around. We often get to see God in new and closer ways in the wilderness.

It's not long after this passage that Israel starts complaining. The Egyptians seem to have them cornered at the Red Sea. Since I'm already talented at complaining, let's skip forward to Moses' and God's responses in chapter 14, verses 13-15:

And Moses said to the people, "Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent." 

The Lord said to Moses, "Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward." (ESV)

It's not our skill or ability that will win the battles of life. It's God, moving on our behalf. When the obstacles seem insurmountable, we must trust the God who leads us.

But standing firm in our faith doesn't mean staying in one place. We're to "go forward." That'll look different in every situation, but as you try to discern what it means for you, remember that God  doesn't want us to be frozen with fear. He also doesn't want us to turn back to our own figurative Egypt.

Are you walking in a wilderness today? What situations has God led you out of and away from? What does it look like in your life today to stand firm and go forward? 

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