Friday, January 16, 2015

Wilderness Breakthroughs

Recently I have been overwhelmed with feeling stuck. The worst part of it was, I couldn't even understand why I felt that way. My prayer time was starting to feel cloudy and unproductive and my days were just sort of dragging on. I blamed it on being in the wilderness and sort of shrugged my shoulders for a while thinking this is just the way it would feel here. I thought perhaps it just came with the territory of awkward seasons and feeling sort of in between everything right now.

But then one day, when I just couldn't take the icky feeling anymore, I finally got my first breakthrough. Oh yes, there have been several as of late and I am so very very thankful and excited to share!

I realized finally why I was feeling so stuck. Because I was attempting to find some sort of balance between standing still and waiting on God and also being bold and brave enough to take giant risks and leaps of faith. I felt stuck because I couldn't determine if my current stillness was me simply trying to wait on God, or me being afraid of the failure that might come with another leap of faith.

It wasn't an answer, but it at least gave me some insight and helped me to focus my prayers and my direction.

I tossed this idea around for a couple of weeks sort of just considering it from several angles and attempting to figure out if indeed my stillness was from fear or if I honestly was trying to wait.

Just when I felt sort of stuck agin in my revelation about being stuck, another breakthrough found me!

I have been studying the book of Exodus for a couple of months now in hopes of learning from another infamous wilderness journey that was ventured long before mine. In a previous post I shared my scripture for this year. Since I landed on that in Exodus 15 and had been studying it here and there, I decided to look it up and attempt to learn it in Spanish. I stumbled upon the word "inagotable" in place of the English word, "unfailing." Since I had never seen that particular word in Spanish before, I was curious to see the translation. Little did I know that my little research detour was going to bring even more breakthrough. The translation of the word into English is, inexhaustible, tireless. So, I went back and read it like this...

"With Your inexhaustible, tireless love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In Your strength You will guide them to Your holy dwelling."

Can you just take a moment and let that sink in? For me that was HUGE! By this point, I was sure that God was so sick and tired of hearing me pray and ask and complain about the same things over and over again and miss His voice and His leading time after time and I had almost reached a point of exhaustion and frustration in even bothering. BUT NO! His love and His leading and HIs guiding are INEXHAUSTIBLE AND TIRELESS! Never not ever does He get tired listening to us or showing us or leading us. We never exhaust Him or His love. I don't know about you, but that was certainly a truth that I needed to let settle deep inside of my heart.

So. Backtracking a little bit, I just landed in Exodus 14 the other day. I was already feeling really charged and encouraged by these previously recounted breakthroughs and I was really excited about digging into Exodus for some more! *(Isn't that the best! When after a long bout of reading just to read you finally have a moment in God's Word and it makes you want to spend every spare moment you have digging into it so you can have another! Those moments to me are such fun surprises because we never know exactly when or where they will find us! But those scattered and random revelatory moments are enough to keep me disciplined and reading daily because by golly I never want to miss out on one!) I digress.

Exodus 14 is the telling of the Israelites being delivered by way of the Red Sea. So here they are. Finally free. Finally heading out to who knows where but at least away from the oppression and tyranny of Pharaoh, finally gaining some trust and momentum....and then someone looks back and realizes it was all too good to be true after all because the army is closing in fast. My gut reaction is to roll my eyes at these people as soon as they start complaining and being afraid...but my gut reaction also comes out of a perspective that already knows the ending. If I am being totally honest, I probably would have been right there with them. "Seriously. We were this close...what a tease!?" So, they start yelling to Moses who tells them to be quiet enough for Him to hear what God is saying to do. God tells them to stand still and to wait and see how He will deliver they are quickly being hunted down by an army. Funny how His direction rarely makes any logical sense. They manage to stand still until He directs them...and when He finally does give direction, He points them in the direction of a giant body of water.

Now just imagine. You are out in the middle of nowhere with no idea where you are or where you are heading. That in itself already requires a large amount of trust. Just when you are getting used to the idea, an army bound and determined to wipe you out is charging at you. Wanting to trust God, you ask Him for some guidance through clenched teeth. He tells you to hang out for a minute and He will show you what to do (He always seems to be telling me to "hang on for a minute" haha) and although you are terrified and confused you bring yourself to keep your feet planted until He speaks. Then, when He finally speaks and you are more than ready to throw your trust into whatever plan He is about to present, He informs you that the way out is in the direction of that giant body of water.


I know that in that moment, all I would be able to see or comprehend was me trapped between a deadly army and a body of water that would swallow me up. Of course that's all they could see too. #Humans

Thank goodness for Moses who had enough God sense to just keep trusting despite the crazy, illogical instructions. Thank goodness He knew His God well enough to move forward toward that sea and that he had enough leadership/wilderness training to convince those people to follow him.

It was here that God gave me yet another breakthrough. Of course I didn't hear some audible voice, but in my head it sounded a little something like this...

"Rachel. Do you see how I brought them to a place where they had no choice but to rely on me? If they stood still, they had to trust that I would somehow keep that army from destroying them, and if they moved forward, they would have to trust that somehow I was going to make a way through that sea. But either way, they had no choice but to fully rely on me. That's what's most important to me. Total reliance. I want you always in places where you must fully rely on me. So, you can choose from here. If you stand still and decide to stay here in your wilderness until I open another door, that's fine because you will have to trust me through the dryness and waiting for another opportunity. OR, if you choose to move forward through this particular door, that's fine too because it looks nothing like you imagined and will also require you to rely fully on me. You aren't stuck, you are out of yourself." -God

Okay then. It was relief. A strange sort of relief, but relief nonetheless. I have reached a point where I can stand still OR move but it's really irrelevant because most importantly, I have reached a place where I can no longer rely on myself and I have no choice but to rely fully on God and what He is doing and who He is.

After all, my scripture for this year says, "In MY strength I will guide you..." I suppose it's about time I start learning what that really means.

When you read a little bit further down in the chapter, another amazing thing happens. It says that the cloud they had been following moved behind them and came between them and the army, and the pillar of fire continued to lead them from the front. #woa What they saw there in that moment was a physical representation of God's presence being able to protect and fight for them AND guide them at the same time!

I know I forget that sometimes. I know that God is so much bigger and stronger and wiser than me, but I often forget that He is a much better multitasker than me as well! I think I am like super woman because I can manage to carry my coffee and an unpredictable toddler at the same time. But God, He is able to fight for me, protect me on all sides, and continue leading me and lighting the way all at once...and SO MUCH MORE! He is everything He says He is all at once ALL the time! 

And that's just a couple chapters of Exodus people! If you think it's just some boring, old testament book, I would encourage you to give it another chance because the wisdom and breakthroughs I am gaining from my daily reading are just priceless and they are giving me the strength and courage and energy I need to make it through this wilderness! Mostly I am gaining the strength and the courage to admit that I lack the strength and courage and to daily entrust EVERYTHING to Jesus.

Reacquainting myself with this story and this moment in time when God showed Himself faithful and able has encouraged me and inspired me to pray bolder and more trusting prayers. I have been practicing putting phrases like "I trust you with," or "I believe you can/will/are able to" in front of every request or prayer or concern or even thought that I bring to Jesus. It has greatly enhanced my mood and my perspectives this week.

So, this week I will leave you with a dare! Dig into your Word (even when you don't really want to) and go searching for breakthroughs! Share them, document them, THANK GOD FOR THEM and then get bold and brave in your prayers. Dare to trust God this week...the same God who promised to deliver and redeem and bless and who made good on His promise x10.000 and in big, beautiful ways!

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