Originally published Monday, 30 December 2013.
There is a difference between complaint and an honest expression of our feelings before God. Faith versus feelings.
I recently devoured another book. This one entitled "The Land Between" by Jeff Manion. (Thanks Ashleigh Slater for the recommendation). He writes about the trip the Israelites took out of Egypt, and why it wasn't a short trip.
"God provides water. God provides life. After all, God is life. What if they are supposed to be learning that God can bring something sweet from something rancid--life from death? This new generation is placed in a situation where they are living the story of redemption firsthand.
I am worthy of your trust. You need to learn to depend on me."
I love this.
If you are traveling between the Land Between, I want to share with you some spiritual encouragement I have received from reading this book.
"Traveling through the Land Between, we often have to battle discouragement. Sometimes deep discouragement. The Land Between is fertile ground for emotional collapse. There are times when God allows us--as he did the Israelites, as he did Moses--to suffer need. This need may be physical, emotional, spiritual, material, or relational. Such needs have a tendency either to discourage and debilitate us or to drive us into God's presence where we ask for his guidance and provision. God sees us--everything about us. He knows our need. And he is trustworthy. He wants us to learn to trust him to provide.
I have seen your misery. I have heard your crying. And I am concerned about your situation."
Have you been crying out to God for change? For something new only to feel that God dumped you in the middle of the desert?
Recently, I had the privilege of attending North Coast Church as they opened a new venue in the San Marcos/Escondido area. Pastor Chris Brown shared from Joshua 1 (one of my favorite passages). Moses had just died. Joshua had just taken over. The Israelites were about to take their first step out of the Land Between into the Promised Land.
(Side note, don't you just love it when God begins speaking to you and they all seem to be on the SAME subject?)
Pastor Brown said that following God closely may lead to symptoms of:
Feeling like God doesn't care.
The way God spoke to Moses was completely different from the way He spoke to Joshua. When He was instructing Joshua on their first steps into the Promised Land, it's interesting there were no signs, wonders, promises, but simply a call to bold courage.
In fact, God said it three times.
Be bold and courageous.
Be bold and very courageous.
I command you to be bold and courageous.
We are supposed to be afraid. Maybe that's why we walk by faith and NOT by feelings alone.
"When God disciplines us in ways that seem harsh or difficult to bear, could it be that he is attempting to rescue something?"
Are you aware that whatever hardship are you currently experiencing is for the greater good (see: Genesis 50:20)? No matter how painful.
No matter who betrays you.
No matter if it's your own dang fault.
"The land we least desire may produce the fruit we most desire--if we will let it...The reality here can be unsettling. Often God chooses to meet us with his blessing in a place we do not choose to be. He will bless us on the detour. He will bless us in the Land Between. Often the place of blessing is not our place of preference. God leads us through the land we most want to avoid in order to produce the fruit we most desperately desire."
Maybe the difference between the death and birth of new dreams is found in the desert place. In the land between.
In the place we least want to be, but the place where God wants to bless us. Manion continues,
"We were coasting along spiritually, but when our lives were tipped upside down, we were forced to pray as we had never prayed before. We had been so self-sufficient, but when this happened we had to depend on God in a way we would have not imagined. During our trouble, words like trust, faith, and prayer took on new meaning. God met us in our upheaval, and we have been changed."
If you currently find yourself in-between, like me, let's encourage one another.
Be bold and very courageous.
Question: Have you ever struggled to stand firm in your faith versus running away with your feelings? What made you stay or run?
**Survey: Are you in transition? Please answer 5 questions for me to help me as I begin writing my 5th book proposal. Thanks everyone!
*Previously published at ReneeFisher.com.
[Photo: ciro@tokyo, Creative Commons]