To be honest, I wasn’t sure how I wanted to start this one. Usually I draw inspiration from my life when I decide what I am going to write. A Road Map in the Dark has been something that has been inspired by what I am reading in the Bible right now (the Torah, or, the first five books of the Bible), and also by what I have been walking through with the Lord recently. But instead of finding the answer with you along a journey, I’ll just tell you the ending, the answer, and we’ll backtrack so you can catch up and be reminded of something you knew all along.
Deserts – metaphorical, actual, spiritual – are long and painful. They are the exact opposite of the promise that was laid out before us as we stood on that mountain top with the Lord as he ‘promised’ our future together. They are dry and dangerous, they are lonely, corrupt, full of turmoil and mirages. Our souls are thirsty and there is no water. Our minds are hungry and the only food is poison. They’re exhausting because they test what is really important to us. But through them we learn a wonderful thing. There is nothing we need more in this world – there is nothing that will truly satisfy, or protect or nurture us. They teach us, through the process of elimination, that the only thing we really desire is a connection to our Creator. And we particularly need one friend: and his name is Jesus.
Let me explain.
The Old Testament looks like a story with a whole bunch of failures and mistakes, that lead a family constantly growing, in circles. But Deuteronomy (the last book of the Torah) brought it all together for me. I have felt like for the last few years I have been in a desert of sorts. (Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t been without victory and joy, but if you look, neither were the Israelites. There were many times they celebrated and won and rejoiced. And for a long time, they desired a land that they were not ready to enter into. That is how I have felt). It has been hard watching my close friends step into their ‘promised lands’, to hold their promised first borns, to hold the first fruit. It has been hard not to be envious or jealous or even want what they want. But how different is that in comparison to when the Israelites looked to what the other nations had, instead of desiring what the Father wanted for them? (See multiple example in Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy).
If the Israelites were here, what advice would they give you? To run after the mirages of a home without God? Probably not. I bet it would be more a desperation to learn from their failures. To be all that you can be, the best version, without the baggage you’ve carried, because it may be too hard or too difficult to confront.
On a daily basis, as Christians, we are counting up the cost. In this world we are constantly confronted with decisions that test our Faith in a God the world cannot see.
Our battles against purity, against strength and faith, against individuality and true security, may not be against flesh and blood, or against anyone in particular. But they are battles that question constantly what is really important to us. Yet through all the frustration of feeling lost and feeling left behind, I found within me a growing desire to serve the Lord. It had to be Him. Every breath I wanted to be His. I found myself wanting to be ever closer to Him, to have nothing – to want nothing – BUT Him. All of a sudden everything I thought I really wanted looked irrelevant in comparison to the love I had found for my God.
My pastor said something similar about this recently in that, we forget the good we have, because we are blinded by what we do not have. How easily we forget who God is and what He has done for us, because it looks easier to do it the way the world says, to be the King of your own life, instead of allowing the God who has always guided you, to be your light, as He has promised. The Israelites got lost many times in their desert because they forget this truth.
Next time you feel lost and don’t let this sound cliché, The Bible was written to tell a story (well many smaller ones), that point us to a Father who is loving and kind and desires to be connected to people, His people.
It is many who have gone before us and tells us how Jesus is the answer. He is the one who will heal your brokenness, and bind your wounds and banish your fears from the land the Lord has promised. He is the one who will lead you into the promised land – but not just into the ‘promised’ place where there is everything you have desired – but back to the ‘promised’ Father. It is one thousand stories of people who failed first, so you would know how to get it right. Of course we are still human, and no matter how clear the road map is, we tend to find ourselves getting lost. But it is the bridge between a human and God that we need. And because of that fact, God sent his son who was a wonderful combination of both. He also happens to have a wonderful name meaning ‘God saves’.
John 1:1 says exactly that: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. So here it is, the road map you always want and need: The Bible.
The desert is always long. It is some of the hardest years you will face – with some of the most harsh challenges. It is hard not to look to the other nations and want what they have, including their gods. But that is not want God desires, nor will it lead you to a home that has peace. Staying faithful to a God who has been faithful to you, to learn to love Him will all your heart and all your soul and all your mind, may take time, but it will lead you into the promised land, with the promised father. A land flowing with Milk and Honey, with prosperity and many first fruits.
And just like that, I hope your faith is renewed like the eagle.
This year’s April encouragement may not have had many new revelations in it, but I hope it reminded you to have faith. To stand strong, and to not look to your neighbour for hope, but to the God who loves you, who brought you safely up out of Egypt and who will finish taking you all the way home.
May He find us faithful
” THE WORD IS A LAMP FOR MY FEET AND A LIGHT UNTO MY PATH “