Are You Wandering in the Desert?


The Israelites grumbled in the desert. IMG_3958

In my self-righteous present, it’s easy to look back and think I’m nothing like those who couldn’t seem to get a clue about trusting God. Even after forty years of him patiently guiding them, providing food and clothes that didn’t even wear out, and speaking directly to them through a tremendous leader, they still cried out asking

Why did you bring us out of Egypt?

(Translate: bondage, slavery, painful existence, starvation and abuse.)

Today God showed me how close to that brink I am.

The Miracle of Us is an exciting story full of romance, challenges and, well, miracles. God connected me and my Australian husband, Brendan, across an ocean via an internet dating site. Against all odds, we Skype dated, spending only a total of nine weeks together in person spread out in four separate visits over a year. Soul mates, we marveled at how perfect we were for each other. We had no clue how to address the practicalities of joining our lives. With seven children and 8,000 miles between us, the impossibility of it seemed insurmountable.

Yet, God assured us of an amazing, abundant life together: the Promised Land.

Now, five year later, in the midst of some significant challenges (job searches, lawsuit over moldy house, illness, broken van, etc.), I am tempted to ask God,

Why did you?

I adore my husband. No question there. My acquired children are a delight and couldn’t be any more my own than those I bore. The life and connections we have here are priceless. God’s miracle of bringing us together, merging our families and settling us remain a source of awe and wonder both to us and others. But that doesn’t mean easy or without conflict.

Romantic fairy tale collides with “jagged cliffs of reality” (son Chris’ phrase).

And God knew every one of those difficulties ahead of time. So, why? What was he thinking, planning, promising?

In every miracle, rescue, amazing promise, we can easily ask why when the path temporarily becomes rocky and heated. Like in a desert without shade or water, we can wander, thirsty and tired and forget the miracles, the promises and the good we’ve had; and start asking “why?”

So far, this is what I’ve discovered:

God is preparing us for something better and greater. The Promised Land occupation required the driving out of “giants” and people who worshiped idols instead of God. It took work and fighting. The people needed strength, courage, patience and perseverance. Mostly, it meant the Israelites had to rely on God to supply all these traits. They had to have faith. I’m learning all of this.

Good doesn’t mean easy.  Booker T. Washington said “Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.” Brendan and I together are good. Getting us together was hard work, but so worth it. A rocky path makes legs stronger. Rocky life makes hearts stronger. That’s good.

True love isn’t a feeling, it’s a sacrifice. A choice to be the same with someone as I promised I would be. Better, worse, sick, healthy, right, wrong, sinful, righteous. Am I willing to do or allow whatever it takes to be faithful to someone I love? Jesus did. He calls us to. He makes us able to follow his lead.

I don’t have it all figured out.

But I know God does. And he’s the only one who matters. If I keep my eyes on him, I will enter the Promised Land just as he plannedIMG_3401 and promised. And in the meantime, he makes streams in the desert. In so many ways. Doesn’t he?

 

What is your desert? How is God meeting you when you wonder “why?”

Excerpts Continued…


     Brendan “winked” (like a Facebook Poke) at me a few days later. Ok, six to be precise. And yes, I did count. I was sitting in my favorite chair in my bedroom/office, and Carol was working at our desk. I saw the “wink,” a computer generated standard email that indicates someone’s interest without them writing anything personal, come up and I caught my breath. Up until that time, I had ignored most winks feeling that if someone was actually interested in me they could go beyond that easily pressed button and send a more personal, if even brief note. But when I saw that the wink was from the Australian man, my heart flipped and tears came to my eyes. Oh my gosh, Lord, could this be the one? I thought. Really?! And it may seem corny and overly sentimentally romantic, but I knew somewhere deep in my being, albeit not concretely, that he was. Chills spread over my body. My amazement, excitement and tears prevented me from responding immediately.

“Oh my gosh, Carol. I don’t know what to write. What do I write? I can’t believe this. Really? Oh my gosh. What do I say? I can’t believe I’m crying,” I pestered Carol, feeling dazed and speechless.

“Just be yourself, Laura,” the ever practical Carol replied with a calm, knowing smile.

“Right.” Easy for you to say when I have just received a WINK from this amazing Australian man. A WINK for goodness sake! A wink suddenly taking on an entirely different meaning for me.

I deliberated for quite a while; actually until I became nervous that unless I responded soon, he would think me disinterested. (This was of course before I had counted the difference in time zone hours and realized he was probably asleep.)  Finally, my ‘brief’ (no less than a page) email was ready after numerous edits and rewrites. I hit the send button with a quick prayer something like, “Here goes Lord. Please do what you want with this,” and away it flew into cyberspace, my whole future clinging to its back, resting within its words and God’s hands.