Yesterday I posted this nugget of wisdom on my Facebook timeline: “The world isn’t a forest of measuring sticks. The world is a forest of burning bushes. Everything isn’t a marker to make you feel behind or ahead; everything is a flame to make you see GOD is here. Ann Voskamp.
and then I wrote: Definitely words to live by here. Therefore today I will look for the flame that shows me God is here.
I have to admit that yesterday I was fairly successful in keeping my eyes on God and gaining my strength from the assurance that he goes ahead of me to prepare the way.
It helped that I had some wonderful pointers from godly people to help me with that assurance.
On Sunday I heard a great sermon on the life of the children of Israel as they wandered through the desert. The starting point of the sermon was this verse from Exodus 13, which has been where I have been trying to keep my faith focused this past month..
The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.
The preacher spoke of the time in the desert as a time which was necessary and would lead to coming to know God better, if we don’t fall into the temptation to become whiners and complainers along the way….
Then later in the week I had lunch with someone who is destined to become a good friend. We talked about my experience of not finding a new place in which to fulfill my calling in ministry, and the experience of homelessness. She talked with me about her own experiences of unemployment and homelessness and how God always provided at just the right time, but not until the right time.
We agreed that the life of faith is never easy and that sometimes it resembles stepping off of a cliff without a parachute to hold you up, or a net to cushion your fall. As I prepare to move from my current place of sojourn and am finding the places to store more of my things and prepare to move on to the next temporary oasis in the desert, I feel more of the free fall than the confidence in God.
We talked about my current focus in prayer, which is that I be able to hear God speaking. Then I said that I was wondering if the fact that I can’t hear God speak is because he hasn’t spoken yet…. and she spoke those same words at exactly the same time. WOW.
She has certainly experienced more periods of homelessness than I have and she pointed out that what gave her strength in the process was looking at it as Sabbitical time. Sabbitical time…. not unemployment. Sabbitical time…. not homelessness.
What a new perspective, this is about being in God’s place, God’s care, and God’s timing. This is a time for spiritual growth to prepare for the tasks that are to come. Like Elijah in the desert being brought food and told to eat and sleep for the journey to come would be long.
So yesterday when I posted Ann Voskamp’s wisdom on facebook and resolved to look only unto God for direction and leading instead of trying to figure things out and make them work for me, I struck out with confidence.
This morning, the first email I opened was from yet another congregation informing me that after prayerful consideration they did not believe that my gifts matched the direction of ministry the congregation was seeking.
My initial reaction…. tears of bitter disappointment…… FOLLOWED IMMEDIATELY with this reminder from God…. you have promised to go only where I lead. In repentance I said, “You are right and I am sorry. You are merely redirecting my feet to the path you have prepared. I will follow your leading.”
A few hours later I got an email from a congregation that invited me to read their website, their profile and if I was interested to submit my profile in application. Is this the place I am being led to? That I don’t know. What I do know is that I need to read the information, pray and prepare and if there is a pillar of cloud and fire to be seen, I will go forth with God. But only if God’s presence indicates that this is the path to follow.
So here we go again, wandering in the wilderness and wondering is this the final lap–the path that leads to the Jordan River and the promised land. Only time will tell. I wait for the revelation of God, and reaffirm my intention to walk in faith.