Are you heading somewhere?
I love books! Recently I was straightening up and organizing my bookshelves so that I could find things a little more easily when I came across a little book I read about five years ago. It was Stormie Omartian's book, Just Enough Light for the Step I'm On - Trusting God in the Tough Times. Just as sights, sounds, and even smells can stimulate memories of days gone by, books I have read remind me of seasons and places I have walked with the Lord. This book was no different. I quickly thumbed through hi-lighted pages and markings I had made in the columns. I wrote verses to memorize inside the cover and stapled some notes to the back cover describing the place I had traveled while reading through this book. In Chapter ten, Stormie describes a wilderness experience she had in her own life which almost perfectly paralleled the place that I was currently walking in.
Below is what she had shared (in italics) and my own notes I had written about this season of my own life.
"When God is taking us to a place we've never been before, we envision that it's going to be better than where we are. And ultimately, that's true. But often we have to go through a wilderness to get there.
God has a purpose for the wilderness, but it's hard to see it when we're in it. It can be frightening if we don't know what to expect. The most frightening thing about it is the thought that this may be our final destination."
When God called my husband and I to leave Orange County and move to the foothills of Northern California, it was one of the most difficult things I had ever done in my life. I had to leave what I loved and what was familiar to me to go where everything seemed foreign. Not that one culture was better or worse than the other, but they were so extremely different from each other. I can distinctly remember the first time I drove down a dirt road. At the age of thirty seven I had never driven on dirt, blacktops yes, dirt no! There were so many new things to learn and even a vocabulary that was totally foreign. I had to become familiar with a wood burning stove and what it meant to have well water and a septic tank. There were lots of new discoveries like the sight of deer crossing through our front yard, squirrels everywhere and even the stars and darkness of the night was new. I was a city girl. I felt like I was in the middle of a foreign land. It was as though I had left Egypt and arrived in the wilderness.
Even though there was a lot I did not miss about Orange County, there were many things that I still held on to. And even though the foothills were probably one of the most beautiful places in the world, so much was missing for me. I felt like an alien. And, just like the Israelites did when God led them out of Egypt, I grumbled and complained.
"Oh, for some fish and a new pair of shoes like we had back home!" they complained.
"Oh, for the restaurants, amusement parks, and beaches I used to go to!" I moaned.
I didn't know then that although the wilderness may seem like nowhere at the time, it is somewhere if that's where God wants you. For it's there He will prepare you for the good thing He is about to do in your life. It's there you will be thoroughly convinced that you won't get anywhere or accomplish anything lasting without Him.
At the time I did not know how long I would live in this place. All I knew is that I was somewhere. I was to leave behind the familiar, the comfortable, the past successes and accomplishments. The foothills is where God took me to get Egypt out of my heart. He wanted to separate me from all that I craved, so that all I craved was Him. God aimed me in a new direction. I had to let go of what I had always known, be willing to embrace the unfamiliar and trust that He will sustain me on the journey.
God took the Israelites through the wilderness because taking them the direct route meant they would have to fight the Philistines. "Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, 'Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt'" (Exodus 13:17) God knew that the Israelites would have been too afraid at that point to trust Him to fight their battles for them, so He took them on a different route. He took them and me somewhere.
Is your nowhere leading you to God's somewhere?
It's not where we are in life that matters, but Who is with us. Stormie Omartian
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