October 30, 2009
The Broken Way
"Moses answered the people, 'Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today ... the LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still'" (Exodus 14:13-14, NIV).
Friend To Friend
While at a recent football game in which my son, Preston, was playing, I had a moving conversation with another team mom. It was the first time we'd ever dialoged beyond socially expected niceties. Between cheers that went up to our football-playing boys, she stumbled upon the fact that I was in ministry and was excited to share about how God has intimately drawn her heart to his over the past five years. How He met her where she was. Ministered to her through the hands of others. How He sparked life into her soul through His Son Jesus Christ. She was radiant. She spoke with excitement. Joy in every sentence. Praise on her tongue for the God who gives her strength and life. She told me of her grueling battle with an aggressive form of breast cancer.
She was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 35 - as a wife and mother to three small children. Initially, she was angry with God for allowing a disease to ravage her body, furious that her husband and children might have to live without her. Though she fought to understand the "why" of it all, she confidently testified how God used the pain-filled journey on the broken road of cancer to lead her to saving Grace. She is now grateful for the broken way that God breathed new life into her soul as she battled death in her body. As she spoke, the troubles of my life faded to a humble corner of my heart. Her words reminded me that God really can and should be glorified through each hard place we find ourselves in.
Life is filled with challenges. The struggles we endure often leave our hearts breaking and our minds aching for reprieve. I've not battled cancer, but I have experienced my fair share of times when I've been caught between faith and a hard place, just like her. As a wife, mother, daughter, and friend, I've learned that hard times are inevitable and that they hurt.
Toward the end of our conversation about her cancer and faith, my new friend confided that fear still tries to invade her days. She said that she constantly has to choose faith and to trust God instead of dwelling on the possibilities of another future diagnoses. Every one of us doubts at times. We all fail to trust. Scripture assures us that even when we are faithless, God remains faithful. As we walk broken paths that challenge our faith, the truth remains that God does deliver in and through the pain. Though there are struggles that we might take to the grave with us, God is still good. Each hard place is an opportunity for Jesus to show His power in and through our lives.
When we find ourselves on the broken way, we often feel like we are wandering in the wilderness. In Exodus 13:17-14:31, we see a dreary desert drama of the Israelites. Stop here to read the full account now if you can.
"When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, "If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt." So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea." (Exodus 13:17-18a, NIV)
As God moved through the leadership of Moses to bring His people from captivity to freedom, from poverty to inheritance, the Israelites were not led the easy way. They didn't get to take the paved road - even though it was shorter. They had to walk through the desert. God led them the harder way because He knew it was best for them in the long run. Sometimes we are led the harder way too. The broken way. Even though our minds conceive an easier solution, He knows what is unknown to us, He sees what is unseen to us, and His ways are trustworthy and best.
"By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people" (Exodus 17:21-22, NIV).
"Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel's army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left" (Exodus 14:19-22, NIV).
God has given us his Holy Spirit to lead us by day and by night; to be our Strength, our Power, and our Direction in the deserts of life. Just as God made a way for the Israelites when they called on Him as they faced a seemingly impossible Red Sea situation, He will make a way for you. Call on His name. Trust His plan. Reach for His hand.
Dear Lord, forgive me for the times when I try to navigate the deep waters of life on my own. When my heart is heavy with burdens, please give me Your strength and remind my soul to trust You. I need Your guidance and power today.
In Jesus' Name,
Now It's Your Turn
Do you feel like God has led you through the desert?
Do you trust that He can and will make a way for your Red Seas to be parted when you call on Him?
Grab a journal (if you're a journal girl). Spend a few moments contemplating the circumstances of your harder way. Then lift your eyes from your situation to your Savior. Call on God, and say to your soul: "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today...the LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."" (Exodus 14:13-14, NIV)
More From The Girlfriends
I've seen it in my own life. God delights to deliver us from our hard places in and through the pain. Hang in there, friend. He knows each tear you've cried and He has never left your side. In the words of a beloved hymn by Helen Lemmel, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."
WALKING ON THE BROKEN WAY? God delights to heal and transform lives … including your own. In her book, Broken Into Beautiful, Gwen Smith invites you to experience how the unconditional love of Jesus can change your life and bring strength and healing to your heart. He can transform your life into something beautiful. To order Gwen's book, Broken Into Beautiful, please CLICK HERE.
GOT FACEBOOK? Stop by Gwen's Facebook Music Page at www.Facebook.com/GwenSmithMusic. While you're there, be sure to listen to a few songs, leave a message on her wall, and add her as a friend!
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how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Originally published Friday, 30 October 2009.