water from within.

Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s medication, or maybe it’s just that I got tired of being around myself all the time, but a few weeks ago I started to come out of my desert wandering funk. I haven’t arrived anywhere. There’s no promise that’s suddenly been fulfilled, no mountain of opportunity that’s suddenly appeared in front of me.  In fact, life looks pretty much exactly the same as it did a week ago, six months ago, a year ago.

But I stopped looking for rain to come from above and started living like I have access to water right underneath my feet.


walking on water 2

When I spent a month in Kenya, I lived in the desert. They were living through a terrible drought and every day I prayed for rain.  I was so convinced it was going to rain, in fact, that I carried around my bright green Gore-tex rain jacket everywhere we went. In the dry, hot heat that rain jacket was my symbol of faith that God could send rain to water that sun-scorched land. But no matter how long we prayed, no matter how much I believed, no matter how hard we hoped, rain didn’t come. I left that desert just as dry as it was the day we arrived. I had stared up at the sky for 30 days wondering why the sand was so parched beneath my feet.

When the month ended I moved on to another country, eventually returned home and haven’t thought too much more about that desert season that I barely dipped my toes into. Until a teammate sent me a news article about Turkana last month.

This article announced the discovery of a potentially enormous underground supply of water.  Five large aquifers were discovered far beneath the desert sand, wells containing over 66 trillion gallons of water to be tapped into.  More than enough water to bring an end to the drought in the desert, more than enough to sustain life and health and growth.

And my mind was blown.  I had stood on top of these wells, a layer of sand all that stood between the water and my feet, and stared up into the heavens wondering why there was no rain to be found.  I lamented the barrenness and pleaded the need on behalf of people in a land I barely knew. And all the while, water was just under the surface, out of sight, just waiting to be discovered and absorbed.

It’s no secret that I’ve hailed these last several months as a desert with a promise just out of reach, but somehow recently my eyes have shifted downward and I’m shocked to discover again the enormous wells I have access to just beneath the surface.  Fresh rain hasn’t poured down from heaven no matter how many Gore-tex tokens of faith I’ve waved at the skies. But I’m discovering deep, deep wells of life-giving water, wells that have been there all along, wells that might even be inside of me.

splash

It’s like the Lord is saying, “Stop waiting for me to rain down at you, on you, to you, I LIVE INSIDE OF YOU. No outward expression is going to replace the inward access you have to my spirit, my breath, my water. To me.”

There are desert seasons. There are mountains and valleys and promised lands, and yes, there are deserts. And they’re barren and dry and disorienting and lonely. But maybe instead of raising fists at the sky, we’re supposed to look down underneath, just within,to see that the Life–the Promise–is not Out There somewhere, but deep inside of us.

 

 

 

where there is always enough.

On top of a garbage heap in Nicaragua, we portioned out food; we set up tables of provision while they dug through the trash. I pried open a full plastic bin while he pried off a tin coffee can lid.  I picked up a spoon while she gathered bottles and cans.  I tip-toed around glass while she dove right into the pile.  Metal table legs balanced precariously sinking into the dump–there was no level ground, we just hoped it would stand.

And when they came, we portioned out the meal–rice and beans so they’d be full, eggs for some protein, fried cheese just because it was a treat.  I was careful with my portions, fairness was my goal.  In the dump, they fought for the most valuable trash–at our table there would be no fighting, no disappointment that he got more than his share.

When the eggs started to run out, I added a scoop of beans and rice.  It was the best I could do and I prayed there would be enough.

nicaraguaBut there is never enough these days.  Not enough light in the evening, even the 6:00 hour feels like I’m stealing from the night.

Not enough time with friends, they seem to be making memories together faster than I can catch up.

Not enough wisdom, I’m making things up as I go along.

Not enough opportunities, breakthrough, celebration, rest.

No, there is never enough these days.

And that’s how I know I’m solidly planted in the wilderness.

Because the myth of the wilderness is that there is never enough.  And a funny thing happens when there isn’t enough.  My hands close in fists, clenching the small bit I have so that it doesn’t get stolen away.  And in holding on tightly, I squeeze the very life out of the little I’m holding onto.

And when there isn’t enough, everything that comes along must be pounced on quickly, if I don’t snatch it up someone else will. I claim my territory before I even know where I want to set up camp for fear that it will be gone by the time I decide.  Sometimes I’m not sure if I grab on because I actually want to or just to keep someone else from getting more.  Healthy, I know.

So, this verse about manna in the wilderness makes me angry.

Some gathered a lot, some only a little. But when they measured it out, everyone had just enough. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough. Each family had just what it needed.

exodus 16:17-18

Because all I can see is that some gathered a little and some gathered a lot.  Some filled buckets full of provision without even knowing what they had picked.  Some piled high plates of opportunity, did they even look around?  Some carried gallons, some held only spoonfuls, how was this fair?  Was there rushing to the pile, scrambling to claim what was theirs?

In my world there would be calculation, rations, portions and shares.

But that is not the way of the wilderness.  The wilderness isn’t about claiming what we see with our eyes, it’s about looking into the emptiness and finding all that we lack.

Though the gathering was uneven, unfair by my count, somehow everyone had just what they needed, nothing left over, no one coming up short.  Which makes no sense to the running tab that’s always counting in my brain.

Unless.

Abundance isn’t about having more than we need, abundance is having access to the unending source.

Beach Scene 7277

I’m desperate to live from a place that believes there’s always enough, that believes your abundance doesn’t equal my lack.  Portion is not a rolling tide pulling from your shore to fill up mine.  Portion is offered from the deepest ocean depths, spilling outward across shorelines, it’s only measurement marked on my own sand.

Many are running to the wilderness these days because they’ve learned that when plenty is visible, people have already staked their claim.  But when plenty is a daily provision, a daily relying on the One Who Provides, there is always enough to go around.

The work of my soul in this wilderness season is to pry open my hands, let go of what I think I’ve already claimed.  To look into the vastness and swirling of sand and believe at just the right time the food will appear.  And to practice the rhythms of my response, “The portions aren’t fair, but there is always enough.”

where i remember the journey.

When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to get to high school.  Something about the idea of lockers and football games seemed like the peak of arrival.  Turns out I didn’t go to very many football games.

When I got to high school, I counted down moments until college.  Dorm rooms and meal plans sounded so grown up and I couldn’t wait to shop in the bookstore.

I dreamed about my first job, my next job, travels, and marriage, each season quickly turning from promise fulfilled into the waiting ground until the next.

dreamer

I’ve been in a hurry to arrive as long as I can remember.  I don’t have to know exactly where I’m going to be in a hurry to get there.

This month started as an attempt to find truth in this wilderness season.  And, if I’m perfectly honest, there was some part of me that thought maybe acknowledging it, maybe writing and declaring and claiming, would propel me out of this season faster.  There was a minor breakdown around day 10 when I realized that wasn’t exactly the case and I may have just added another pressure to this journey.

But somewhere along the way I’ve found myself believing the things I’m writing.  Somewhere along the way I began to find the beauty of the journey.  I don’t know exactly when it happened.

Maybe it was realizing that God becomes the very thing our journey lacks.

Maybe it was so many reminders that we are not alone.

Maybe it was remembering that God sees me.

I’m not saying the longing for the promise is gone and I’m not saying I want to stay in this wilderness ground forever.

But I am saying that I don’t want to get to the fulfillment only to look back and see clearly all the moments I missed.  I don’t want to arrive at the object of my longing and not be ready to step into the land.  I don’t want to become so focused on the promise that I lose sight of the Promiser.

We’ve been sold a lie that life is about waiting for the land.  We see only from mountain to mountain, constantly looking for the next peak to reach.  We’ve been taught what to wait for, instead of learning Who we wait on.

And this month has reminded me of the goodness of that One.

I’m not done writing about this wilderness journey.  I just might take a little more time to organize my thoughts.

But at the end of this month, I’m more convinced than ever that we will “see his goodness in the land of the living.”

Because I already have.

31 days of truth.

 

This is Day 31 of 31 days of truth from the wilderness.  Click here to see all blogs in this series.

on failure in the wilderness [and eating in my bed.]

I should have written a blog last night.  It’s not that I didn’t have time–I was eating take out on my bed in a hotel room and watching HGTV like it was my job because I don’t have cable at home and PROPERTY BROTHERS!  Really, this is research for when I buy my farm, right?

 girl on bed.

Seafood turned out to be a poor take out choice because a hotel room is smaller than you might think and fish more potent than you might imagine.  After a mild panic that all of my clothes for the week would now smell of fried fish, I brilliantly tied up the bag, stashed it in the bathroom trash can, and shut the door for the night.  You might wonder why I didn’t just take it to the lobby, but that would have required more clothes and seeing people.  So, now you understand.

There was a time not that long ago when this all-or-nothing extremist would have been paralyzed after missing a blogging day.  I would declare my attempt unsuccessful and give up completely on this 31 day commitment.

If I couldn’t do it perfectly, it wasn’t worth doing at all.

If I didn’t get it right, I might as well give up.

If I wasn’t making progress, then I must be losing ground.

The only harder than trudging through the wilderness is carrying that pressure while you walk.

And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”

Numbers 14:4

“We can’t do this, we might as well go back.”  The Israelites are no strangers to wanting to turn back, wanting to give up, wanting to return to the start.  And as many times as they’d failed, I can’t say I blame them.  They blamed the Lord, they blamed themselves, they blamed Moses–but whatever way you look at it, their failures would have sent me running back to the start.

Some of us are overwhelmed by the many times we get it wrong on this journey.  Some of us are so afraid of taking the wrong step that we can’t even figure out where to set our feet.  And some of us simply believe our very presence in the wilderness is the result of a failure on our part.

Some of us are beating ourselves up over poor choices made and others won’t make any choice at all because we’re terrified it’s the wrong one.

The wilderness oozes with lies about our performance and failure.  Our tender spirits are fertile ground for those lies to take root, and if our failures don’t lead us in circles, our thoughts certainly will.

But the challenge of the wilderness is to keep moving forward, despite failures or mistakes.  To pick ourselves up and recover and move on.  To believe that one misstep doesn’t disqualify us for the task and doesn’t negate the progress we’ve made.

There’s no room for perfection on this wilderness way.

31 days of truth.

This post is part of 31 days of truth from the wilderness.  Click here to see all blogs in this series.

where we establish ourselves.

When I was 21 I spent a semester in Uganda.  It was a combination of my thirst for adventure, my belief that I could change the world, a sudden need to escape from a certain boy, and that whisper that Africa breathes over you that you can’t quite explain unless you’ve been there.

A recipe for disaster if ever there was one.  It was good and bad and hard and lonely and different and lonely and stretching and lonely.

200415_4425636231_7110_n

In the end, I did some good things, bought some typical souvenirs, cried buckets full of tears and came home a little earlier than planned.  It would be 8 years before I found my way back to the Pearl of Africa, many of them spent feeling like a complete failure because I hadn’t thrived when I had the chance.

It didn’t look like I thought it would.  I didn’t respond like I thought I would.  Things didn’t go like I thought they would.

Because the fulfillment of the promise doesn’t always show up just like we expect it to.

 ”But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

Numbers 13:31-33

It devastates me to read this on the other side of the story.  To see the Israelites with one foot raised ready to claim their soil, so close to living out the fulfillment of a promise made generations ago.  And then to see them, one more time, miss the entire point and, this time, Miss the Entire Point.

They couldn’t see past themselves.  They couldn’t see past the obstacle.  They couldn’t see past the fact that this was not how they imagined entering the Promised Land.  They saw it as a gift to be given and didn’t see how this was a gift.

But as critical as this moment was, I don’t think it was ever actually about this moment.  No, this was about the Red Sea, the Manna, the Arounds, and the Foot of the Mountain; this was meant to be the culmination of faith developed, trust nurtured, covenant sealed and hope fulfilled.

We cannot expect to ignore God’s provision in the wilderness, to exchange His Presence for that which is just present, to beg him to release us back into the hands of our enemies and then suddenly trust his leading when we arrive at the Land.  No, we cannot expect our shallow wilderness sight to be developed overnight into eyes that see deeply when we reach the Promise.

We are banking on the promise to elicit our response of faith, when the work of the wilderness is to establish it.

We can’t get water out of a well we haven’t dug.  And because, sometimes, the promise doesn’t look like we expected, sometimes we’re gonna need a well.

We’re going to stand at the edge of fulfillment, feet poised to claim our soil, and we are going to find out if our response will be, “we can’t” or “we can surely do it.”

The wilderness is for establishing ourselves as Those Who Trust the Lord.  Those Who Wait on Him.  Those Whose Faith Runs Deep.  Those Who Take Possession of the Land.

We will be worriers or we will be warriors, but the choice won’t be made in that moment.  That’s what the wilderness is for.

31 days of truth.

This post is part of 31 days of truth from the wilderness.  Click here to see all blogs in this series.

because this is what happens when i don’t [grieve].

Tears have been just below the surface most of the moments lately.  I so needed permission to let them out.  Because it’s good and it’s cathartic and it’s healthy and it’s holy.  Yes, that.

But mostly because bad things happen when I don’t.

Like the last month of my life.

Because I’ve been avoiding grieving.  I’m been avoiding sensitive subjects.  I’ve avoided being alone with my thoughts or really even letting myself think.

And, I figured, why not let you in on a little of that?

It started when I watched an entire season of Friday Night Lights.  In one weekend.  Without ever getting dressed.  Amazing.  But then I realized some people might actually use the word pathetic, so I spent the next weekend signing up for every commitment ever known to man ever.

Seriously.

I joined a dance class. Desir80′s.  That’s an 80′s dance class taught by Desiree.  But that was only after I accidentally went to a hip hop class in my jazz sneakers and demonstrated just how white I am.

Volunteered at church.  Stalked the pastors of said church because they weren’t responding to my emails.  Set up a meeting where they now either think I am the best thing that ever walked though their doors, or they are afraid of my crazy and don’t know what to do with me.  It’s a toss up, really.

Researched grad schools.  Because I have all kinds of time and self-discipline.  Obviously.

Mormon Row Moulton Barn, Grand Teton National Park, WY

Considered buying a farm.  I don’t even know.  But actual research was done.

Bought a plane ticket.  To Colorado.  This might be the only actually sane thing I’ve accomplished.

Ordered myself a Stitch Fix.  They send clothes to my house.  Ok, this sounds pretty sane too.

Called five different counseling centers and got voicemail at each one.  They really think I’m going to document my crazy on their machine?  Because, clearly, that’s what this blog is for.

Committed to this flying by the seat of my pants incredibly well thought out month of blogging.  Did you know that the definition of forever is 31 days?  Because it is.

And then I went to see this change-your-life forever amazing concert.  But, seriously though.  I can’t do it justice.  So I won’t try.

And now you see why it’s important for me to let myself grieve.  Because there was a brief period of time where I almost ended up with a chicken coop in the backyard.

Thank you for your contributions.  Your vulnerability.  Your encouragement.  For letting down your guard and for acknowledging the loss.  This is holy work we’re doing here.

Does your crazy come out when you avoid processing and grieving?  What does it look like for you?

31 days of truth.

This post is part of 31 days of truth from the wilderness.  Click here to see all blogs in this series.

where i give us permission to grieve.

Things in my life haven’t exactly turned out like I planned.

When I was seven, I was going to be a Broadway star by the time I grew up.  Or President of the United States.  Or a brain surgeon.

Clearly that worked out for me.

When I graduated college with no sign of a “ring by spring”, I adjusted my plans declaring 25 as the perfect age to get married. That would give me a few years to enjoy life on my own before settling down into wedded bliss.

When 25 came and went, I declared that was really ok just as long as I was married by 30.  At the time, I couldn’t imagine much worse than being a thirty year old spinster.  Turns out, I would survive.

I’ve since made a bargain with the Lord about 35 and what things I’ll take into my own hands if that number comes and goes [hint: this involves a brown baby from Africa], but we both know I’m kidding.  Mostly.

lights

Jobs I thought were long-term that ended after a season, friends I thought were forever [isn't that what the song says?] that drifted further away, shifting family dynamics–I am the oldest, but no longer the first to any new milestones–no, life has not turned out exactly like I planned, often sending me right back into the wilderness just as the promise came into sight.

And over the past three weeks you’ve told me your stories.  Jobs ended and no new ones can be found. babies wanted and babies lost. families longed for, relief asked for, change hoped for.  I had no idea the honor it would become to be entrusted with your wilderness longings.  And they’ve wrecked me.

I’ve wept for your disappointments and mine.  I’ve wept at the sweetness of the Lord even here, right here in the middle of the desert.  I’ve asked why and how long, even though I know those questions aren’t the point.  But they keep me turning to Him and I think that might actually be the point.

And so today, for one day, I think we need permission to mourn.  Guys, I’m always going to bounce back up towards the ascent. I’m the eternal optimist who will forever find the victory despite how great is the obstacle that we face.

But.

We are disappointed.  The future we imagined may not ever turn out like we planned.  The sweetness of the past might never be fully recreated again.  And we will come back around to all the true things that those statements imply.  But for today, may I be so bold as to give us permission to grieve.

To let out the deep breath you’ve been holding in.  However ragged and shaky, let out your sigh.

To release tears to flow freely–they are not a sign of weakness.

To cry out, “But I thought, I hoped, I wanted,” even while knowing “He is, He will, He can.”

Disappointment may be the mantra of the desert, our expectations mirages that slip away before we can arrive.  But grieving gives value to our unmet expectations, acknowledging their sacredness in our lives.

And so, I declare this space holy for those that would like others to acknowledge the loss in their lives.

I won’t ever be a “young” mom.  But the good news is that I could run for President when I turn 35.

What are you grieving? And how can we mourn with you?

31 days of truth.

This post is part of 31 days of truth from the wilderness.  Click here to see all blogs in this series.

permission in the promise.

Today’s post is a guest post from one of my dear friends, Jordan McGuffin.  Jordan thinks more than she speaks and every word she writes carries weight.  I’m honored to have her thoughts here today.

You know, the beginning of a blog used to be my favorite part to write. It is the section that draws people in (because you know if you aren’t hooked by the first couple of sentences…wait come back! There’s more.). It’s the tone setter—the place where momentum begins and anticipation arises.

I’m starting to believe that the anticipation, the expectation if you will, is actually a bigger part of the story than I once realized.

Sunset on Acacia Tree

Let’s look at the Israelites journey really quick. I mean really, where else would we turn to during these 31 days of truth that Kelly has been writing about?

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites…’” –Numbers 13:1-2

“Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.’” –Numbers 13:30

“But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.” –Numbers 14:24

These three verses tell me that God told the Israelites that he was going to GIVE them the land, and all he asked was that they explore. He in no way implied, that they go in and deem it a possible or impossible promise. I believe he wanted them to see and dream of what could, and what would be theirs!

While I am in the midst of a wilderness season of my own, I am so intrigued by Caleb. I read and re-read these verses about the promise God has spoken over the Israelites and their journey to see it come to pass, and six words ring louder and louder in my head:

There is Permission in the Promise.

Caleb had a “different spirit.” He smelled of hope and dreams. He feasted on the promise of God—despite where he found himself each day. The very definition of a promise includes the words “a right to expect.”—look it up (use Google!) Caleb and Joshua were the only ones to enter the promise land via the wilderness.

Did you catch that? They made it through the wilderness, and not any faster than the next guy.  He is giving us permission, no matter where we are in the journey, to expect the fulfillment of his promises.

Permission to risk…to bet on his words over the voice of doubt.

Permission to try…to conquer fear with motion.

Permission to hope…to let expectation and anticipation rise in your bones.

Permission to dream…to explore in what WILL be.

God is not asking us whether or not it is possible for his promises to be fulfilled in our life, rather he is giving us permission to anticipate and expect for when they are.

Since life is often times more about the journey and questions rather than the destination and answers, THEN let me ask you…

What does it mean for you to have permission in the promise? For me it means there is permission for me too hope and believe in what God says—not cover myself with the all too prevalent doubt and fear.

31 days of truth.

 

This post is part of 31 days of truth from the wilderness.  Click here to see all blogs in this series.

where i take back my song.

The story goes that when I was two years old I spent the night with my grandparents.  In typical grandparent fashion, they took me out to dinner, perfectly pleased with the opportunity to show me off.  I was the first.  Explains a lot.

As dinner was drawing to a close I did the most natural thing for a two year old to do.  This two year old, anyway.  I climbed up out of my chair, pulled myself onto the table, stood tall and proud and proceeded to sing every word of the old hymn “Standing on the Promises.”

Standing on the promises of Christ my King, through eternal ages let his praises ring

Glory in the highest I will shout and sing, Standing on the promises of God.

My parents would later ask, mortified, why they didn’t stop me, pull me off the table and apologize to the patrons of the restaurant.  ”You let her sing every verse?!”  My grandparents, though, were thrilled with my spontaneous performance and it’s probably a good thing I didn’t know any other songs or this could have gone on for awhile.

Oblivious to my environment, I had a song and I wanted to sing it.  No one had yet told me to stop.  And no one had yet explained there are some places where our song would be silenced.

Dancing on the table

“Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord…”

Just after crossing the Red Sea, the Israelites put their trust in the Lord and celebrated what he had done; they burst out in spontaneous song, “The Lord is my strength and song and He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him.”

And then the wilderness came.  The weariness of travel.  The fear of attack.  The uncertainty of how long they had to go.  Instead of lifting their voice in praise, they opened their mouth in accusation.  In song, they celebrated what God had done.  In speech, they lamented what he had yet to do.

A sweet friend sent me a message this week and quoted Mike Bickle from a study on Hosea, “Nobody sings in the wilderness…people complain in the wilderness.”

But what if we did?

Because the wilderness is not the environment for singing.  The wilderness has sold itself as the breeding ground for fear, it’s shadows pulling us into self-preservation mode–there’s no time for singing when we’re using all our energy to play endless tracks of “what if?”

What if the Lord brought us out here to die?

What if he doesn’t provide like he says he will?

What if everyone forgets about me, gives up on me, moves on without me?

Which is all the more reason to defy our situation and take back the song we’ve given away.  I’ve found that once we’ve given up our voice, it takes a little time to get it back in tune.  To remember that we like the sound of it, to remember that no one is coming along to shush us in our seat.

And so today it might start small.

But the more we use it, the more we build it up.  Songs of revelation to cling to in the face of fear.  Songs of promise to declare when we’re afraid.  Songs of deliverance to sing over ourselves.

Fear can’t have my voice anymore.  Because the Lord is calling, “Remember who you are.  Remember the child who held court in a restaurant, unaware that the environment wasn’t ‘right’.”

Today I’m climbing up out of my chair, pulling myself up onto the table, standing tall and proud and taking back my song.

Anybody in?

31 days of truth.

This post is part of 31 days of truth from the wilderness.  Click here to see all blogs in this series.

image credit :: creative commons

an exchange in the wilderness.

I wouldn’t consider myself a naturally patient person.  Anyone who has spent ten minutes in the car with me would probably agree. I have only one speed when driving: get there fast.  My mom jokes that I’m just speeding from one red light to the next, accelerating immediately after it turns green only to slam on the breaks at the next light a few hundred yards away.  We won’t even talk about what happens when I get stuck in traffic.

My destination is always my goal and I have little patience for any obstacle that would hinder my progress along the way.

When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”

Exodus 32:1

The Israelites have seen the Lord deliver them from Egypt, they walked on dry ground through the Red Sea.  They have every reason to trust Him and no reason to doubt his faithfulness and, yet, at the end of 39 days of waiting on Moses, they decide they’ve waited long enough.  They exchanged the untamed reality of God’s presence and glory for the tangible falsehood of a golden calf.  They traded the sweetness of what they could not control for the emptiness of what they could, and bowed down before a god fashioned out of their own device.

 Colorful mountains near Sheep Creek Lodge, AK

Moses was “so long” in coming down the mountain and the Israelites were weary of waiting.  Their one request for this god was that he would “go before them”, to close the gap between themselves and the promised land.  And so they turned their jewelry into a god, fashioning it in the form of a cow.  They expected it to become their leader, ushering them closer to the canaan land.

A cow.  An animal that is herded by human hands.  An animal that is steered to till the soil.  An animal that is led by plow and reins and an animal that is controlled by man.

The Israelites weren’t just looking for an object worthy of their worship, they didn’t need a statue to bow before.  They were looking for a god they could control, for an escape from their standing still.  And it is no coincidence that the god they designed was in the form of an animal whose direction relies on human command.

Because they wanted a god they could throw their reins around, a god they could steer and direct at will.  A god they could convince themselves was leading them, though they had already determined their goal.  Ironically, we form idols of our own escape, or at the very least of company along our wilderness way; “leaders” we must pick up and carry that become baggage in our own hands.

The foot of the mountain is wrought with temptation to take matters into our own hands.  Our drive towards the promise entices us to seek out the fastest route, to ignore God’s timing along the way.  And so we turn our “jewelry”, our possessions, our gifts and opportunities into something we can serve, something that makes us feel like we’re making progress.  We trade the wild, glorious reality of God’s presence and timing for a safe, tangible object where we can fix our eyes and control our progress.

But it’s in the moments where it seems like the least movement is happening where our hearts are most drawn to worship, to press in to a leader worth following.  It is in the stillness, in the waiting where we are free to rest in His presence, nothing to pull our attention away.  In these moments, the Cloud beckons us deeper asking, “Will you take your eyes off the destination and fix them solely on me?  I have promised you the land and I will not go back on my word.  But the land is only one expression of my goodness and, in me, you have access to the very goodness source.”  Regardless of where we are in our seasons of waiting, it is Him, not the promise, that is ultimately our goal.

31 days of truth.

 

This post is part of 31 days of truth from the wilderness.  Click here to see all blogs in this series.

image source :: creative commons

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