Detour Through the Desert

“I’m not concerned about you feeling good.” After writing and living blogs such as “I Have a Treasure” and “Hug” you can imagine my surprise when God spoke those words to my heart today. Since we often get in trouble when we take God’s words out of context, here’s the rest of the conversation:

 

Me: “I’m not good for anything. I’m worthless. I can’t even find work to support myself. Even Joseph was given a leadership role in the prison when he was thrown in. Me? I only collect dust.”

God: “A newborn baby can’t do anything. He can’t work, he can’t support himself, he is totally dependent on other people to care for him. Is he worthless?”

Me: “Well, no, but it still doesn’t feel good.”

God: “I’m not concerned about you feeling good.”

 

Then later, I read in a book, “It took one night to get Israel out of Egypt, but it took forty years to get Egypt out of Israel.” God continued, “I’m using this time in the desert to get Egypt out of you. I could give you a job tonight, but if I do, you’d be forever walking around longing for the flesh pots of Egypt and you’ll never be truly free.”

 

The book I just quoted was John Ortberg’s Love Beyond Reason. In the chapter entitled, The Roundabout Way, he speaks of the detours through the desert that God sometimes takes us on. He contends that the “roundabout way” is God’s way of strengthening us. He mentions how God didn’t take the Israelites through the shortest route because they would pass through enemy territory and get scared and want to go back to Egypt. After thinking about it, I realized that that is exactly what’s been happening these last two years, actually even before that.

 

I’ve always said that I have the weakest knees ever, and I run at the first hint of trouble. That’s what’s been happening these last few years as I have taken on odd jobs but haven’t been able to sustain them. I would start something, things would get hard, I’d want to return to Egypt (aka my old behaviors). I know God wants to use this time in the desert to strengthen me in his love and faithfulness so that I would be “rooted and grounded in love” as it says in Ephesians. Then when troubles come or when I get discouraged or frustrated in whatever job God has for me, I will be able to trust the love of God to get me through them instead of running to my old behaviors.

 

No, God is not so much concerned about me being comfortable as he is about me being victorious. When I was going to my last interview, I made up a tune that I sang the whole way there. It went something like this, “What God wants is what I’d want, if I knew what he knew.” Since I can only see through a slit in the fence, I whine and groan about how miserable I am but God who sees the whole picture knows that if he were to grant me my request now, I’d forfeit the greater thing he wants to do in my life. He’d rather me be an unemployed Israelite than an employed and worldly successful Egyptian. I must admit, in my heart of hearts, so would I.

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