grace

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Free Advice Friday: What does it mean if we are “offended” by something someone does or says?

Published March 1, 2013 by joypatton

First you need to understand your own heart. Were you hurt by what they said or offended? If someone does or says something that hurt your feelings, then you need to own that. Sometimes it’s easier to say we were “offended” than to say we were “hurt.” Kind of like saying “I’m frustrated” rather than “I’m angry.” Using the terms “offended” and “frustrated” allows us to save face and maintain a “stronger” position. But to say that I was hurt or angry, takes courage because it makes me vulnerable. I’m vulnerable because I got my feelings hurt.

What I learned from counseling and from one of my all-time favorite books Voice of the Heart by Chip Dodd was to speak my feelings in simple honest terms without hiding them. Now when someone does or says something that hurts me, I can tell them I was hurt. Your feelings are your feelings and no one can tell you how to feel. Whether they meant to or not doesn’t change the fact that I was hurt. So just tell them, simply and honestly without an expectation of an apology. When I tell someone how I feel, I tell them because I want to be known by them. I let them see me as I truly am, and I let them be who they truly are, sorry or not sorry.

As Christians, we are so quick to use the word “offended.” Many were offended by Beyonce’s Superbowl Halftime Show. Many are offended by what how the liberal media reports the news. Many are offended by how common swear words are in our culture today. The list of things that Christians find “offensive” is extremely long, never-ending and quite varied. But my question is what offended Jesus, the person we are all supposedly trying to be more like?

Was Jesus offended when they flung a partially dressed woman caught in adultery at his feet? Was he offended when he ate in the home of Zaccheus the tax collector? Was he offended when Simon the Pharisee had him over for dinner and didn’t properly wash his feet? Was he offended by the rough life of his fishermen disciples who sometimes didn’t wash their hands before they ate? Was he offended when the disciples tried to turn away the little children? Was he offended when the friends of the paralytic man destroyed private property to bring their friend to Jesus? Was he offended when the woman at the well asked him theological questions all the while avoiding his?

Of all the people who ever walked this earth, Jesus, the perfect, unblemished, holy Son of God, had more reasons to be offended by the unrighteous filth of our world than anyone else. And yet these are not the things that “offended” him. None of those things could diminish or tarnish or take away his righteousness. An unclean woman washing his feet with her tears and her hair does not make him any less righteous. The Pharisees however criticized him for letting him touch her. They would never let her unrighteousness come near to their righteousness lest she tarnish their holiness. They failed to understand that righteousness is a matter of the heart, not something you maintain on the outside.

Jesus’ harshest words were reserved for the Pharisees in Matthew 23. He says “Woe to you!” seven times in this chapter directed at them. He calls them hypocrites and fools. It seems to me that these were the people who “offended” him the most. These were people who valued their righteousness more than justice and truth and love. They treated righteousness as something to be earned, deserved and protected. I think we fall into the same trap when we rant and rave about all the things that are offensive to us as Christians. Typically people are offended when their sense of right-ness is transgressed. They fear that what they have seen or heard will tarnish their righteousness.

But the truth is that I am righteous not because of what I do or don’t do. I have been declared righteous when I trust Jesus’ perfect righteousness to cover all my unrighteousness. Therefore I don’t get “offended” by the unrighteous things of this world. The world and the people in it are simply acting according to their nature. Jesus’ righteousness was not “offended” by all the unrighteousness of this world. Rather he was moved to compassion and love for the sick and dying, those headed toward eternal damnation.

My hope is that when someone in this world acts according to their fallen nature that I will not be “offended” and judge, but rather that I would be moved toward compassion and love. Lest I become like the Pharisees, truly offensive to the One I love.

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Where I want to Live

Published February 12, 2013 by joypatton

This last weekend I was in Los Angeles to attend our first Grammy Awards. It was my first time in L.A. and my first time to the Grammy’s. I realized just how white and how small my little corner of the world is. That’s what I love about traveling, seeing new places and meeting new people.

On the flight out, we met a young woman who used to live in L.A. We talked about the differences between L.A. and Nashville. She confirmed what I suspected about life in L.A. That religious life didn’t intersect with real life. That there was pressure to always look like you had it together, to keep working harder and more to reach the bigger, better life.

I felt this pressure even before we left. The last few weeks, I found a BCBG dress and Chinese Laundry shoes. I had my highlights done and got a spray tan to hide my winter white. I ran out of time and money or I would have gotten a mani/pedi and had my teeth whitened. I had carefully planned outfits that only including skinny jeans. It was lot of work. My sister saw a picture and told me I looked good. Of course, I did. If I could keep up that kind of beauty and shopping regimen and my real life, I would definitely look better.

But life isn’t about just looking the part. That’s the lie we have believed. That if everything looks good on the outside, then it must be good. It’s a lie that runs rampant in the church as well. We want to put a pretty bow on every story and let everyone think that we are strong, in the Lord of course. But when we are just looking the part, we often neglect our hearts. They become another part of us to manage and control and make pretty.

My friend said that in LA going to church was just another thing you did to make yourself look good. If you had time, you went on Sunday. But if you could find something else to do, you did. It’s not something you want to do or look forward to or even miss. I have fallen into that trap before too. My faith became just another accessory to my image, another part to play, something else to put on.

When this was all that my faith was to me, it was no wonder that I still felt empty inside. I couldn’t experience all that the gospel had to offer because I was busy using it to make myself look better. It was just another accessory in my closet to make me look cool. I could leave it at home or check it at the door if I wanted to.

But I dare you to truly believe the gospel. Don’t just use it to make yourself look good or sound cool. Let it into every part of your life. Let it affect every thought and everything you do and say. The great thing about Jesus is that he loves broken people, not just the ones who look like they have it all together. When I let him see the broken places, I invite him in to work. He brings compassion and grace and mercy to all the ugliest parts of me. Instead of hiding and covering them up, I can be true.

When your life is perfect, you don’t really need Jesus. When you can get everything you need on your own, you don’t need a Provider. When you can be good enough at keeping the rules, you don’t need a Savior. But when you can’t keep up your L.A. look and your life falls apart, Jesus will be there. The gospel is for people who aren’t perfect. When you come to the end of your resources, Jesus has exactly what you need. When you realized you have broken more rules than you could ever keep, you know you need his precious blood to cover it all.

I’m so glad I get to go home. I have a place where people love me even when I’m not perfect. I have kids who think I’m the best even when I’m the worst. I have a husband who loves me all dolled up or just plain old me. I have a God who is more concerned about my heart than about my look. He is there waiting for me to turn to him on the good days and on the bad days.

To get to him, I don’t have to own the right clothes, say the right things or keep all the rules. To get to him, I just have to be true. I have to honestly admit how desperately I need him and then accept his provision. The gospel becomes part of my every day life, not just my Sunday life. That is where I want to live, in the center of his grace.

The Truth about my Dark Side

Published January 15, 2013 by joypatton

The other morning I was on the treadmill shuffling through songs on my iPod.  In Kelly Clarkson’s “Darkside,” she sings, “There’s a place I know; it’s not pretty there and few have ever gone.  If I show it to you now, will it make you run away?  Will you stay even if it hurts?  Even if I try to push you out, will you return?”

She also speaks truth when she says “Everybody’s got a dark side; nobody’s picture perfect.”  We all have parts of ourselves that we would rather leave in the dark.  Things that we live with in the dark, but know would be repulsive in the light.  Things that we work hard to hide so that no one ever sees how ugly we are.  The Bible actually calls it sin, missing the mark of perfection.  And we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s perfect best (Romans 3:23).  Since Adam and Eve took their first bite of the forbidden fruit, everyone is born with a dark side.

The questions that Kelly asks in the song are the questions we all long to know the answers to: “Do you love me?  Will you love me even with my dark side?”  I’ve been in relationships where my sin has been exposed, and they have decided to walk away.  My dark side was too much.  I was too scary.  In any relationship, you run the risk of being hurt.  My dark side could come out and do some serious damage.  It has and it probably will again.  I want to know that I am worth the risk.

This is where pop culture and theology collide.  As I listened to Kelly sing these words I was reminded of something I had read in Brennan Manning’s Abba’s Child.  “Only in a relationship of the deepest intimacy can we allow another person to know us as we truly are.  It is difficult enough for us to live with the awareness of our stinginess and shallowness, our anxieties and infidelities, but to disclose our dark secrets to another is intolerably risky…The greatest fear of all is that if I expose the imposter and lay bare my true self, I will be abandoned by my friends and ridiculed by my enemies…I cannot admit that I have done wrong, I cannot admit that I have made a huge mistake, except to someone who I know accepts me.  The person who cannot amidst that he is wrong is desperately insecure.  At root he does not feel accepted, and so he represses his guilt, he covers his tracks.”

What I’m learning is that the only way to experience true intimacy in a relationship is to let them see your dark side.  If you don’t, you are always questioning whether the other person just loves the pretty parts, the parts you know they will like and accept.  We are afraid to completely be ourselves because the dark side just might scare them away.  But when I know that someone loves me, that they will forgive me, that I am accepted and worth the risk, I am free to be completely myself.  Only when I bring my dark side to the light can it begin to heal.  There is no healing in the dark, only death.  In order to heal, it must be brought into the light.  In order to experience true, authentic love, it must be brought to the light.  In order to be fully known and fully loved, it must be brought to the light.  This is the path to the authentic relationships we all say we want.  This is the painful path that my husband and I have walked together.  He is Jesus “with skin on” to me.

Jesus came as the remedy for the dark side.  Without the work of the cross, my dark side keeps me from the presence of a holy and perfect God.  Darkness cannot dwell with the light.  What happened at the cross was that God made a way for my dark side to be forgiven, for all my sin to be paid for.  Because Jesus lived a perfect life and died an innocent death, there was a way for my sin to be accounted for, so that I could dwell with God in the light of his love forever.  Jesus overcame the darkness when he overcame death.  Because he lives, I can live in the light.  Because I know that he accepts me, I can risk rejection in my human relationships as I learn to tell the truth.

Even if other people reject me, the truth is that Jesus decided that I was worth it.  He saw my dark side, and he didn’t run away.  He didn’t run, and so I don’t have to run away either.  I can bring my sin to him knowing that it has been forgiven and always will be.  I’m not too much for him; my dark side doesn’t scare him.  When I run toward him instead of away from him, he reminds me who I really am, a beloved daughter, a Princess.  He reminds me that I am uniquely designed for a specific purpose (Psalm 139:16); that I am not big enough or powerful enough to ruin his good and perfect plan for me (Jeremiah 29:11); that nothing can separate me from his love (Romans 8:39).  He reminds me that I can’t use up all of his grace and that I will always have a way back into his arms.  He promises to stay with me.  The only question is will I stay with him?  Or will I let shame, guilt and fear push me back into the dark?

“You know that we’re worth it. Don’t run away.  Promise you’ll stay.”

What would it take for you to share your “dark side”?

Lessons from the Wasteland: Rest

Published November 12, 2012 by joypatton

In the wasteland seasons of life, it often feels like God has taken everything away. The things that we once used to fill the time are no longer there. Sometimes by choice. Sometimes in spite of all our best efforts. We go from feeling busy, wanted, fulfilled or purposeful to a vaste expanse of feeling nothing. All the things we used to do for others, for ourselves, for the kingdom have fallen away and the calendar feels empty. Maybe not empty, just not full of the things that once were, just different.

We go from fruitful, lush, productive land to nothing but ugly lumps of dirt. And I remember that rest is important. That in order for the ground to be fertile, it has to rest every seven years. It feels so counterintuitive to plow up fruitful, good soil and just leave it, untapped and unused. Wouldn’t it be better to use it? But the truth is that the land must rest so that it will continue to be fruitful. If it doesn’t rest, it will lose the nourishment that makes it so prosperous.

Lately I’ve been pondering what Jesus said in John 6, that he was the bread of life. He compared himself to the manna that God sent to the Israelites in the wilderness. As I thought about it and went back to Exodus, the gift of manna was quite amazing. They were in the Wilderness of Sin and complaining about not having food. Their hungry bellies made them long for the old life of slavery. They begged Moses to take them back and criticized him for bringing them out to the desert to die.

Out of his love for his people, God decided to feed them with bread from heaven in the morning and quail at night. Consider how amazing this was after a slave life in Egypt!  They didn’t have to do anything for it. They didn’t have to make money to buy grain.  They didn’t have to grind grain.  They didn’t have to chop wood and build a fire to bake it.  If they didn’t make enough bricks the day before, the bread still came.  In the wilderness, they just had to gather what they could eat in a day.  And the quail came right into their camp!  They didn’t have to hunt for it or track it for days.  It was there.  They didn’t even have to make clothes!  The Bible says that their clothes didn’t wear out during those forty years.   As a woman, I think it must have been an amazing time of rest to have two of my main areas of responsibility completely cared for by God.  No cooking and no sewing!

When I think about Jesus being the bread that came down from heaven, I am even more amazed.  He came down as God’s provision, so that I could rest.  Because he died on the cross for my sins, I can be forgiven.  In John 6, he describes eating the bread of life as believing in the one God sent.  God loved us so much that he didn’t see us wandering in the Wilderness of Sin and turn away.  Rather he chose to make provision for us.  Abundant provision so that we could rest.

The amazing thing about grace is that I didn’t do anything to deserve it.  So even when I’m doing nothing, God’s love, grace, and provision remain.   In the wasteland, he takes everything away so that he can be my provision.  He wants to be everything to me so that I will learn to trust him with everything.  Sometimes I think he gets tired of competing with everything else in my life and he takes it all away so he can have me all to himself.  He wants to be my salvation so I don’t have to strive and work to make my own way.  Jesus is the bread of life, manna from heaven, and when I eat him, when I take him into my heart, I gain eternal life.

Rest sounds good, and I know it’s important, so why do I hate it so much?  Mostly because I’m not in control.  It’s not manageable and predictable in the wasteland. It’s boring because every day and every meal is the same.  Plus without all the distractions I’m forced to see myself for who I really am and sometimes that’s not so pretty.  I have to admit that my identity was defined by doing, that I believed I was only valuable because of what I did.  But he takes me into the wilderness to remind me who I am.  To remind that I am His and He is mine.  To remember that I am no longer a slave in Egypt, but a chosen one on the way to the Promised Land.

There have been days when I have grumbled and complained just like the Israelites.  It feels like he brought me out to the wasteland to die.  And yet he is patient with me.  And I know that I am loved, not because of all things I have done or not done, but because of all that He has done for me.  He brought me here so that I could die…to myself.  So that I could find life in Him alone.  He knows I am like the fruitful field that needed to rest for a season.  When I enter into this season of rest, I am not bound to the busy-ness of life and expectations of others.  I am free to rest.

Will you enter into His rest today?

Lessons from the Wasteland: Sell everything

Published October 15, 2012 by joypatton

“You have found a treasure: the treasure of God’s love.  You know now where it is, but you are not yet ready to own it fully.  So many attachments keep pulling you away.  If you would fully own your treasure, you must hide it in the field where you found it, go off happily to sell everything you own, and then come back and buy the field.” – Henri J.M. Nouwen – The Inner Voice of Love

When I read this, I realized that in the wasteland God was asking me to sell everything.  This feels so counter-intuitive to me.  When you find a treasure, you don’t hide it and then come back.  Don’t you want to show everyone?  But the truth is that this treasure is so precious, so personal, so profound, that when you find it, you hide it.  Not because you are ashamed, not because you are afraid, but because you are not yet ready to fully own it.

I don’t like not being ready.  I don’t like it when someone tells me I can’t have something.  It often spurs on my Ice Queen to take it by force.  I have talked to women who have what I’m chasing after.  It’s so maddening to me when they tell me that they don’t know how it happened.  That the opportunities just fell out of the sky and the doors magically opened.  This is not the answer I want to hear.  I want to hear how God called them to it and through diligence, hard work and perseverance, they obtained the prize.  This is how my flesh wants the story to go.

But that is my story, not God’s story.  God’s story takes me through the wasteland.  The land of nothing and no opportunities.  The dry and weary land of knowing the treasure is there, but not being ready to fully own it.  The pain of now and not yet.  In the wasteland, I’m tempted to believe that God has taken these things from me by force.  In a jealous rage, he has ripped away everything I have.  But this is not truth.

Rather he has invited me to sell everything.  This past year I thought I owned a position.  It was a position I thought I deserved, that I earned, that was rightfully mine.  In my wisdom, it was a logical next step for where God was taking me.  After all, it all made sense on paper.  To me, this position was exactly what I needed.  And yet, it was taken away.

I believed that God took it, that he forced me out.  But honestly, he gave me the perfect opportunity to sell it.  To let go of the attachments that have kept me from knowing Him.  I could have gone and asserted myself and demanded my proper position.  I could have gossiped and taken my complaint and my hurt other places.  I could have fought to hold on to my precious position.  And yet, God was asking me to sell it, to let it go.

There are other things I’ve had to let go of this year.  I had to let go of some friendships and my desire to be justified, right and loved by all.  I’ve had to let go of micromanaging my teenage son and learn to let him rise and fall on his own as a man.  All the publishing and speaking doors I knocked on were closed.  I had to let go of my self-effort to get to where I thought I was going.  I have “sold” these things so that I could have one thing, the pearl of great price.  The treasure more valuable than all other treasures: Jesus.

Henri Nouwen goes on to explain, “This is often a painful enterprise, because your sense of who you are is so intimately connected to all the things you own: success, friends, prestige, money, degrees, and so on.”  The wasteland is painful.  It looks and feels like everything is being taken away.  But the truth is that he is asking me to let go.  He is also giving me clear direction about what needs to be sold.  It is the painful process of dying to self.  This is not something we do once, but something we must do daily.  Jesus himself said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)  Deny self and follow.  That’s what it means to sell everything.

But as it has been said before, living sacrifices tend to wiggle off the altar. I want to wiggle out of the pain.  I want to get to the Promised Land without going through the Wilderness.  But that is my story for my glory.  I want His story to reveal His glory.  This is why we need the Holy Spirit.  In his mercy and perfect timing, he shows us what we must sell.  Invite him into the wasteland to show you what possessions are keeping you from knowing and trusting Him more.  In His perfect love and full of grace, he will show you.  “Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44)

What is God asking you to sell?  Will you do it joyfully?

Free Advice Friday: What are some good worship songs when you’ve messed up big time?

Published September 21, 2012 by joypatton

It’s the first ever Free Advice Friday on my blog!  Every Friday I’m turning this blog into an advice column.  Ask me anything from dating (didn’t date much, but have lots of interesting opinions), marriage (been married 15 years), parenting (have 4 kids), friendships (have had some good and some bad) or spiritual life (I have one).  I’m not sure that I will have great answers, but I know Someone who does.  My hope is that together we can carry our burdens into His presence and lay them at his feet.

Last week a friend texted me this question and I thought it was a good start for Free Advice Friday: What are some good worship songs when you’ve messed up big time?

My favorite worship album right now is Jason Gray’s “A Way to See in the Dark.”  I bought it because I heard the first song “Remind Me Who I Am” on KLove Radio in Nashville.  “In the lonely places when I can’t remember what grace is, remind me who I am to you.”  This is my new theme song.  When I get stuck in my Ice Queen and Orphan thinking, I need him to remind me that I am His Princess, his beloved.  “I’m the one You love.”

Another one of my favorites is “I Will Find a Way.”  In the beginning it talks about a woman is who so broken and afraid that she has shut the door of her heart.  “How should I come to the one that I love?  I will find a way.”  He loved her so much that he found a way to reach her and come into her heart.  I’m reminded how much the Father has loved us to send His only Son.  My other favorites on the album are “No Thief Like Fear,” “Nothing is Wasted,” and “Fear is Easy, Love is Hard.”  You can see why this is a great album for all my Orphan girls out there.

Another song that must be on this list is “One Thing” by Kristian Stanfill. “Your Love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.”  When we sing it in church, it sounds almost like a chant.  When I’ve messed up, I need to believe that his love is there, no matter what.

The problem is that when I mess up, it’s really hard to believe that God still loves me.  This exposes the lie that I believe that God loves me because of what I do.  Because I obey him or because I serve him or because I read my Bible and go to church.  None of those are the reasons that he loves me.  He loved me before I knew how to do any of those things.  He loved me while I was still a sinner (Romans 5:8).  So now that I’m “righteous,” has his love grown or changed?  By no means!  God’s love has no levels, no more and no less.  It has always been and will always be 100% plus infinity.

If Satan can get me to believe that God doesn’t love me, he can keep me from the cross, the ultimate sign of love.  When I doubt God’s unconditional love for me, then I am slow to repent because I don’t believe he even wants me back.  Eventually I stop repenting all together.  I stop going back to ask forgiveness again.  I stop bringing the things I did in the dark into the light.  And then I’m right where the enemy wants me, isolated, alone, in despair because I have no remedy for my sin.  This is the place where he is able to steal, kill and destroy this little lamb of God (John 10:10).

But when I am reminded of his great love, that his love for me remains, then I am free to run back to the cross and repent.  When I confess and agree with God that I messed it up again, he is faithful to forgive (I John 1:9).  I can agree with Satan that I am all those horrible things he has called me, “weak, pathetic, unworthy of love and disgusting.”  BUT GOD loves me!  I don’t know why, and I know I don’t deserve it.  This is the great mystery. But I do know that he loves me.  Because I know his love, I can trust that my sin is forgiven.

When I mess up and repent, I invite God in to be the solution.  I can ask him to show me the patterns that keep putting me in tempting situations.  I can ask him to show me the root beliefs that drive my sinful behaviors.  I can invite him in and ask him to heal those wounded places that I keep trying to heal myself.  I can live in the light and be in relationship with others because I know that I am deeply loved.  There is power in repentance because I admit that I am powerless over my own sin, that I cannot save myself, that I need Someone bigger than myself outside of myself to rescue me.

So my beloved, dear Princess, beautiful child of God…know that you are deeply loved today.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” (John 3:16)

What songs have helped you when you have messed up?

If you have a question for Free Advice Friday, email me at joy@joypatton.com.  If I answer your question in my blog next week, I will send you a copy of my book The Myth of Enuff.

Lessons from the Wasteland: Follow me.

Published September 10, 2012 by joypatton

The first steps into the wilderness were timid and terrifying.  Looking back over her shoulder, she watched the peaceful meadow evaporate into mist.  Her old life was gone, and she couldn’t go back.  Into the dry desert ground she stepped.  The sand swirled around her, and she couldn’t see anything up ahead.  She wondered where this journey would lead and if it would be worth it.  This wilderness seemed so terrible that she wished she could stop and let it swallow her whole.  She dropped to her knees, discouraged, empty and alone.  And then she heard his whisper, “Follow me.”  She looked up and saw nothing but wilderness sprawling before her.  Questions and doubt chasing each other in her head as the wind chased the sand.  

As her head dropped back down, she saw a footprint in the sand.  The wind began to slowly take it away piece by piece, but before it disappeared she planted her own foot firmly in its place.  “This is the way,” he whispered.  “Walk in it.”  As she looked down again, she saw another print and quickly placed her other foot inside.  This was how she walked for hours and days.  Sometimes she would hear his voice whispering to her not to give up.  Sometimes she felt his gentle hand in the small of her back, guiding her every move as they danced through the desert.  Many times she looked for him in the distance or looked for a sign that she was on the right path, but the nothingness was all that answered her.  She continued this way looking for each step until one day she saw the grass between her toes.  

She looked up and the sand was gone.  She could see the path clearly ahead.  She turned and looked back at the wilderness.  She was surprised that she didn’t want to leave.  She was afraid that she would forget how to follow.  She was afraid that the beauty of this new world would distract her from his voice.  Yet as she turned back toward the beautiful sunlight, she heard him say, “Follow me.”

“You know who you are, don’t you?” my counselor asked as he looked at me.  Of course, I knew who I was.  I was a mom, a wife, a writer, a speaker, a teacher.  That’s who I am, but I knew he was asking me a trick question.  “You are not all of those things.  You are simply one thing: a follower.”  It was true.  All of those other things could evaporate in a second.  I might never get to speak or teach women again.  I might tragically lose my kids or my husband.  But one piece of my identity that I will never lose is that I am a follower o f Christ.  Because even if those terrible things ever came to pass, I know that the only way I could ever make it out would be to follow him.  I must also accept that following him might mean that he leads me into some of those wilderness places.

After all, the Israelites were led into the wilderness.  They didn’t end up there by accident.  And Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted (Matthew 4:1).  And yet God was there.  For the Israelites their only job in navigating the wilderness was to follow a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  They didn’t have a map.  They couldn’t see the Promised Land from where they stood.  That’s why following requires faith, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).

In the wasteland, God teaches me how to follow.  He teaches me how to trust him for every bit of bread from heaven.  He proves to my wandering heart that he is indeed trustworthy.  I learn to hear his voice, to see his hand.  In the wilderness, it is quiet and desolate.  My usually busy life can’t drown him out.  Like a sheep, I learn to listen to the voice of the good shepherd.

When in his good timing and by his grace the wilderness comes to an end, I must move on without forgetting the sweet lessons from my beautiful Shepherd.  I can hear his voice more clearly and my heart knows when he is leading.  I’m afraid I will forget and try to do things on my own.  But I know that when I do, I can repent, turn around, and find him waiting there.

 

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