Monday, May 25, 2015

Welcome to My Wilderness!

Photo by Steve Dunleavy

Happy Memorial Day! I hope you enjoyed the extended weekend. I certainly did with lots of family, food, and fun! Pretty much a perfect celebration. In the midst of spending time with family I was able to get some quiet time to view Sunday's sermon at my church (via the World Wide Web). Although there is nothing like physically being at church, live streaming will do when I can't actually go.



As I raced to get together the perfect Sunday breakfast and find the perfect spot in my mom's home to view the sermon, it hit me that I now find great delight in spending time in God's presence. Whether it is spending time in my Bible,listening to different pastors speak, or just speaking with friends about God's goodness (and sometimes the not so goodness of life). I have unexplainable peace and now delight in His word. I digressed...this week's message hit home. It was one of those messages where I felt like the Pastor was speaking directly to me. Did I leave my journal at church last week??? Which by the way is a legit fear of mine. Some things are for God ONLY! :-) Did someone tell the Pastor that I needed to hear this message? I know, I know...it wasn't just about me, but it feels good when I feel like God confirms things in my heart. In my life I'm finding that I spend less time worrying about what will happen next and more time on finding God in my current situations.

Anyway, the message from Sunday was titled The Wilderness:Wondering, Wandering, Walking. The sermon was pulled from Deuteronomy 8. If you have time, please check out the message here. It was pretty awesome!

So here's a story...on July 28, 2014, I wrote this in my journal "...the word Deuteronomy keeps flashing in my head. First few times I thought I was just saying it to myself but I didn't read anything that I can remember that referenced that Book. I kept seeing the word, so I finally got up to read it..."  The message from this week was centered around the very scriptures that I underlined almost 10 months ago!!!!! Isn't that...something.

I know you are all probably like calm down girl that was just a coincidence, but no... life isn't a coincidence. God has a road for all of us and when He puts things in motion it is because He is leading us somewhere #JustBelieve. I digressed and I don't know how to get back on track...when all else fails, new paragraph! :-)

Deuteronomy 8:(2)Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.

Currently I am reading a  book by Marian Jordan Wilderness Skills for Women. She was the guest speaker at my church for our Women's Conference and I really enjoyed her speaking style. The first book that caught my eye was a book about surviving the wilderness...because I believe I am currently there (and many of you are probably there with me!) This message paired with a few other things confirmed that God hasn't forgotten about me. That when I first started this journey almost a year ago, He already knew that at this moment I would be wandering around my wilderness lost, confused, and not sure of my next move. Today is not a surprise to God. Now, what is this wilderness I speak of??? Apparently this is one of God's favorite places to send people...Moses (80 years), the people of Isarel (40 years), oh and we can't forget about Jesus (Matthew 4:1-40 days-)! So one can assume that God leads people here for a purpose.  As documented in the Bible, people actually went into the wilderness but today our wilderness is more metaphorical...a place of provision, preparation, and protection. Nope, I didn't come up with that...I pulled it right from Pastor Jim Laffoon's message that I referred to earlier.

So here I am...in the wilderness and not sure how long I will be here. I guess it could be anywhere from days to years...sheesh. The Bible has patterns...God, I just need you to know that 40 years would be a bit much...ok? If at all possible can we keep it out of the 40 year range and more like the 40 days?? I'm getting better with this obedience thing, kind of...well it's day by day. I'm just saying...but no matter how long, please don't allow me to manipulate my way out of the wilderness before it's my time!

My Wilderness
I'm not sure if I could really define my wilderness. I guess it would be unfulfilled desires. Being that my life looks nothing like I thought it would be at this point in my life. Hmmm, but when I look back on my life (all 33 years of it) I would say that I like the Amber now VS the Amber back in the day. Oh that old Amber, she was something...and every once in awhile she visits. The great thing is that I recognize her immediately and shut her down, well at least try to (Thank You Holy Spirit). I have to watch her, so she doesn't delay what God has for me. I...DIGRESSED--I can't stay focused today...squirrel ;-)

During my time amongst my uncultivated region (the wilderness) I've noticed several things that have changed. I'm going to use the F words that Pastor Jim used in his message (calm down...not THOSE F words): Face, Feast, and Fight. You have to hear the message to understand! :)

Face it.
I am in a wilderness. Which means that God is either preparing me or someone I love for something big! I hear the stories of women who meet their husbands and they say "When I finally became content with being by myself that's when I met him..." Thus I began this journey of trying to make myself content...you know the fake content? "I'm good, right where I am." I stopped praying for my desires often to prove to God how much I didn't have to have those things...it was another form of me trying to manipulate but this time God...Who tries to manipulate God, really?? God knows my heart and although I find joy in my relationship with Him -to my core I know that I still have unanswered desires. I don't have to pretend that I'm okay with it...I believe that He has perfect timing and right now, He wants me right where I am.

Feast in it.

Deuteronomy 8:3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 

I'm learning to depend on God and God alone. We've had some nights of heavy prayer. Some days when all I can do is just kneel in His presence and not because my life is full of difficult times. I am surely blessed. But sometimes my desires feel as though they consume me.

Do you know what it feels like to have an overwhelming desire? A desire that is SO strong but not within arms reach? Like not even within sight...like so far from my reach that I question whether it is possible?!?!?! Ok, I'm being dramatic but you get the point. It is difficult to grasp why God would place such a strong desire within me and then take so long to place it in my hands. The desire doesn't go away it just gets stronger. It's not an easy thing to deal with. I'm sure someone can relate...no? Just me?

I can remember telling God  "I'm ready" go ahead and send me "the hubby" because this girl has it all together. We squeezed out the last bit of yucky stuff in my heart. I no longer depend on a man more than You, God.  I'm ready! So God sends me someone that looked like it could be, kind of, almost, Nope......and just like that it wasn't. However, it revealed to me that I still depended on that man more than God. A man was still my source of joy, not God. In that moment I felt God say...I know what is in your heart. I see what you hide from yourself. I will tell you when you are ready. 
Let's just say I'm NOT screaming I'm ready anymore. However, I do see that my relationship with God is growing. Now I can tell when I am pulling from my own strength and not from God. When I don't spend time with Him, it shows in my actions. I long for Him...

"The wilderness is designed to give you an appetite for God"

Fight
Some days I find myself being tempted to do things as I did in the past. -At least I didn't have to spend all my nights alone. I always had someone to "hangout" with. Waiting for God is just too hard and requires too much. These are the thoughts that cloud my head. These thoughts will consume me if I let them. God has my best. Will I wait on Him? Yes, I will. I study my Bible, so I will have God's promises embedded, develop my relationship with Him, and know God's voice and ways. When the enemy comes for me, I will fight. But the good news is that the fight is fixed (I can't remember where I heard this but I love the phrase)! God already planned for me to win #Winning (Thank you, Jesus)!

Are you currently in the wilderness? Have you faced it? Are you growing closer with God while in it? Do you fight against the temptation that WILL come your way?

Until next time...grab a tent and enjoy your stay in the wilderness!

side note-- I am NOT an outdoor type of girl (unless there is a pool and/or beach) so it is through God alone that I can remain out amongst the wild. ;-) 



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