After living in Colorado for 5 ½ years, we felt like God was calling us to South Texas. This was a hard move. I had an incredible writers group and started blogging while I was in Colorado, and I delivered one of my first message at our church’s youth group. Colorado was where I started to walk out some of the things that had been on my heart for many years.
One of my fears about moving was that I would leave all these incredible people that I had gotten to know…I mean, they were my people. What if I couldn’t find other writers and speakers where I was moving? I knew for sure that there weren’t any writer’s conferences or workshops in South Texas. I was afraid that I would no longer have those connections. Part of me thought that I, along with my writing and speaking, would just disappear into oblivion. I know, dramatic much?! I still remember my husband’s words to this day-“Hunny, God knows where to find you.”
After getting settled into our new lives, we quickly discovered that I would need to find a job to help supplement our income. I thought, Lord, did you bring me all this way to go backwards? Please know that when I say backwards, I am NOT saying getting a job is backwards! Not at all! But I’ve always wanted to be able to stay home with my kids, be there for all of their events, and just be present. It’s something I never had as a child and wanted for my kids. And up to this point, I was able to stay home with my kids while working maybe 8 hours a week at a Rec Center in Colorado.
One night my husband and I went out to dinner to talk about how we were doing and where we were at with everything. It was a new season…and a busy season. He had taken a position as the Children’s Pastor and I was working and directing Kid’s Choir and our kids were starting a new school. I had often shared my desire to speak and my passion to minister to women. He said he felt like I needed to lay those things down so we could focus on this new season and all that it included. I’ll never forget how the hot tears fell down my face. I was struggling to be in this new place and everything felt like it was fighting me…and then this.
And if so, for how long? What if I lay them down, and He never gives me peace to pick them back up? I later cried out to God, and my only request was that if He was going to take this dream away (this dream that was from Him in the first place), that I needed Him to take away the desire also because it was just too much.
We read in Genesis 22 that God tested Abraham.
Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
Genesis 22:2 (NIV)
Now let’s back up a little bit with this story. Abraham and his wife Sarai had prayed for a son well into their old age. When they gave birth to Isaac, Sarai was ninety and Abraham was 100. But God gave them their dream, a son.
When God asked Abraham to give up His dream, his only son, the Bible says that he got up early the next morning and began to load up his donkey. He didn’t argue, or plead with God.
He just obeyed.
I’ll be honest-if it had been me, I’d be like, “Did You really say that God?” or I’d be begging God for another way. But not Abraham. He went out the next day with his son and made a fire.
“Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
Genesis 22:10-12 (NIV)
For Abraham, it was a heart check. Did Abraham really love God more than he loved his son? Or had his son become an idol in his life? I believe these passages reveal that God was still number one in his life- above and before everything else…even his only son.
The Lord taught me so much through this season of letting go and surrendering. It felt like such a wilderness experience. When I think of the wilderness, I think of searching in a dry and open land. I think of a place where I have more questions than answers. I think of desire and struggle. I have a feeling that most of us have been through some form of our own dreaming in the wilderness experience.
Here’s what I’ve learned as I’ve walked through that wilderness experience:
- God is still there. Hear me on this- When you’re walking through this wilderness, God can feel uncomfortably quiet. I know. Over and over you might ask, “God, are you still there?” He’s there and He’s using this time to change you and draw you closer to Him.
- God will still use you. Are you breathing? Then rest assured, God has a purpose for your life. Because of some of the things I’ve had to walk through, God is now able to use me to encourage others on their own journey through the wilderness. He will do the same for you. Nothing is wasted- no pain, no silence, no wandering in the desert is ever wasted with God. He can and will use it all.
- God still has a plan. Have you ever seen that picture of Jesus trying to take the little teddy bear from the little girl as she’s crying and doesn’t want to give it up? What she can’t see is the big teddy bear He’s trying to replace it with. Many times if He’s asked us to lay something down, it’s because He’s got something so much better for us, but we have such a hard time letting go.
He always has a plan, and I promise it is good. Let go.
- God is preparing you. It’s all part of the plan. He walks us through things, and each time, we are being prepared for something even greater. If we don’t pass, it’s okay. He keeps walking with us until we get it. Everything in your life is preparing you. There are just some places we can’t get to until we’ve learned some hard-fought lessons along the way. He uses those things to build our character. Even the pain we walk though prepares us to minister to others with an even greater compassion than we would have ever had before. As much as we would love to walk around the painful circumstances, God walks with us as we go through them.
- God has not forgotten you. This is important. My first year at my job, I wondered why I was here. I felt alone and isolated. I got a phone call one morning out of the blue from my friend, Rebecca. She said, “God wants you to know that He sees you and He has not forgotten you.” Wow! Exactly what I needed at just the right moment. I needed to hear that, and maybe you do, too? God sees you. He sees you struggling, searching for significance. He hears your questions. And He promises in His Word that he will never leave you. Ever.
Perhaps my own journey was that of God giving me my own heart check. As we wrestle with our dreams, it’s important to always allow God to check our motives. That time I spent working was greatly used by God. Some of the things I learned are things we are implementing now in our non-profit. And when I look back at those evenings where I felt so exhausted and asked God why, I can now see His faithfulness. He carried me, this I know. It reminds me when I’m feeling overwhelmed, that if He carried me then, I know He’ll do it again. And again. And again. That season of my life was fruitful and caused my faith to grow.
When I find myself dreaming in the wilderness, instead of wanting all the answers I’ve decided I just want God. I want Him more than answers. I want Him above and before all of my dreams. I want Him regardless of if I understand everything or not, because truth be told, I might never know the answers to all my whys, but I don’t need to.
What I need to remember is that He gives and He takes away, yet He is still good.
“For the Lord your God has blessed you in everything you have done. He has watched your every step through this great wilderness. During these forty years, the Lord your God has been with you, and you have lacked nothing.”
Deuteronomy 2:7 (NLT)
Shared by: Celeste Barnard