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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Waiting for an Oasis

I try to read my Bible daily. Sometimes, I'm in a hurry and breeze through it without much thought (honest confession time). Sometimes I think, "Oh, that's nice." Sometimes, I see the application of the verses for my life. And sometimes, God uses certain verses like a cup of cold water to wake me up. Well, that's what happened this morning.

One of my passages for the morning was Exodus 15:22-27. Previous to these verses, God has brought the Israelites out of Egypt in spectacular fashion culminating His miracles with the parting of the Red Sea. This particular passage takes place 3 days later. The Isrealites are wandering in the wilderness, waiting for God's next step in their journey. And, the complaining begins. They are thirsty and the only water nearby is in Marah and that water is bitter, not drinkable. Even though the Israelites have just experienced God's powerful provision during their exodus out of Egypt, they start complaining that He isn't providing what they need. Moses takes their complaints to God and He tells Moses to strike the water, turning it sweet and drinkable. God then proceeds to command them saying He will take care of them if only they will listen for His voice and obey His commands. Then, I read the last paragraph of chapter 15. I'm sure I've read it before but I don't remember it.

"Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water." Exodus 15:27

Okay, so they were grumbling and complaining in the waiting and wandering about water and if they would have just given God a second, He was leading them to an OASIS. Instead, they complained and God, in His mercy, provided for their need sufficiently. But, had they waited patiently for God's best and listened to God's voice because He was guiding them, they would have seen He was planning to provide for their need abundantly.

As I always do, I started to judge the Israelites. Seriously?! God just sent all these plagues forcing Pharaoh's hand, He parted the Red Sea for them and then He collapsed the sea on the Egyptians who were pursing them and seeking to re-enslave them. Three days later they question His love and provision for them. Seriously?! (Insert face palm emoji.) It's like when my kids open the plethora of Christmas presents and a week later, ask me for a new toy. Seriously?!

But, today God showed me my face in the faces of the Israelites. God has worked abundantly and miraculously in my life. He has never failed me. He has always provided. Yet, when I sit in a period of waiting for God's next step for me, I often grumble and complain. I whine that it's taking too long. I grumble, thinking I know the next best thing for me. That destructive thinking leads me to think God isn't providing for me, that He doesn't love me or that He isn't leading me where I think He should. And, sometimes in His mercy, He provides me with a gift, a small reminder that He is there. But, what if one step later, after the waiting and wandering, He had something even more spectacular to give me if only I had waited patiently, listening for His lead. What if my grumbling and complaining led me to a small watering hole, when I could have been led to an oasis in exchange for my obedience and faithfulness.

I desire the oasis, why do I settle for the tiny watering hole?

Here's my prayer for myself and for all of you who struggle in the waiting:

Lord, I confess that I live like the Israelites. I am prone to grumble and complain while I am waiting in the wilderness. I pray for your forgiveness and that I would be able to look to you in the waiting, discern your voice and wait for your best. Amen.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Plan Making and Perspective Shifting

The past few weeks have not gone as planned for me. Dang hurricanes. Reading that you may think, "Man, how was she affected?" I really wasn't. I have power, food, a dry house, all my possessions are intact and everyone I love is safe. So, why am I whining? I'm throwing a pity party because my kids have been out of school. I lost power for a few hours. I've had to help friends and family and even those I don't know which has taken time. I'm just being honest. Some people are awesome at throwing out plans and living in the moment. A need comes along and they happily serve. Kids are out of school and they are excited about spending time together as a family. They are able to throw caution to the wind and be spontaneous. Those people are not me.

I want to be one of those people, but that's not how I'm wired. I concoct plans in my mind and if those plans don't work out; I get in a funk. When school started a few weeks ago, I was so excited. I had all these grandiose plans. I was going to write constantly, be incredibly productive and get things done. But, that's not really how things have gone down. In reality, it's been one distraction after another. Sick kids, house issues, hurricanes, friends and family in need, no school and on and on and on the list goes.

Let's just get real for a moment. I struggle with contentment. Oh sure, I'm content when my plans are coming to fruition, the stars align and everyone is on their best behavior. Man! Then I can get the work done. I can be productive. I can do what it is God is calling me to do. I feel set and at peace. But, the SECOND things don't go as planned, I feel defeated and think, "Oh well, there goes the day. Guess this day is going to stink. Maybe another day I'll get it done."

And, as He so gently and lovingly does, God spoke to me through His Word this morning to reveal what was wrong with my perspective. He reminded me:

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares 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 (ESV)

"Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand." Proverbs 19:21 (ESV)

Oops. Yeah, my perspective is all wrong. Not that it's wrong to have plans. It's not. But, the problem comes in when we don't hold the plans loosely, when we cling to them so tightly that we can't see what God might be doing instead. 

I had big plans for the last few weeks. And, you know what? They were MY plans. Not God's. Sometimes those two things line up and sometimes they don't. When they do, great. But, when they don't, I should not have such a tight grip on mine that I can't see God's. My problem is not the devising of plans, the problem is my resistance in giving them up when they don't line up with God's. 

I'm grateful that God's mercies are new every morning. I'm grateful that He sees me, knows me and loves me enough to correct me when needed. I pray today that I would keep my hands open and hold my plans loosely, knowing that His ways are higher than mine and living in His moment and not mine, is the best plan of all.