Last week I shared about promises delayed. I’m reading in Exodus, and I’ve never noticed before how much we can learn from the Israelites’ journey from captivity to the Promised Land.
Receiving the promises God’s given us often comes step by step on a journey. His promises fulfilled is more about the process than the result. Sure, the result—the promise in our hands—is often pretty amazing. But the process that got us to that point? That’s where the real joy, growth, and deepening occurs.
There are times when the Lord lets us face obstacles on this journey. And, there are times when He chooses to bring us around them (see Exodus 13:17). He knows which obstacles are going to make us stronger and which ones are going to tumble us to the ground.
Our God knows us so well. When we face hard situations, our first instinct is usually to retreat to a safe place. For the Israelites, that would have been back to slavery. But hey, at least they weren’t being pursued, right?
Nah. They were only beaten, made to complete unrealistic demands, and given no freedoms whatsoever.
Sometimes, when we venture out into a new place in our lives, we take baby steps. We feel so big as we move away from our pasts, whatever that may hold. We feel empowered, brave, bold . . . until the first hardship slams into us. Then, our confidence is stripped away and we feel small, unable to move forward one more step.
Sometimes, God knows when we need to go around the trials. He’s not just looking at our physical journey, He’s watching our heart journey as well. When He brings us into a promise, it’s for all of who we are, not just for the physical aspect of who we are.
When it seems to be taking longer for us to see our promises fulfilled, it may be because God chose to bring us around a certain hard that would encourage us to turn back, rather than to embrace God’s promises. When we trust God for the timing, we can walk in peace and confidence, even when we don’t understand why things are taking longer.
Other times, God allows the hard to chase after us (see Exodus 14:9-11). When He allows this, He has a plan. It’s never an accident when we walk into or are pursued by some difficult circumstance. The question is, when we see the hard thing bearing down upon us, what are we going to do?
Our natural instinct is to doubt and blame and question. “Why did I begin this journey anyway? Nothing is really going to change. Who am I to think I’m worthy of God’s love?” Examples of fear overruling trust.
Doubt, blame, questioning—these are all motivated by fear. When fear motivates us, we are not trusting God. When fear rules our responses, the trials look so much bigger than we are.
We can only hold one of these in our hearts at a time. We will either fear the circumstances, the limited amount that we know, or we will cling to God in trust. We can’t do both. The good thing is, we get to choose our response. Will we fear what we see, or will we trust the One Who sees everything?
We must remember that there is ONE who is bigger than any fear, any circumstance. He is the One who holds our hands on each step of this journey to the promise God says He’ll keep.
What about you? How have you battled fear when you’re walking an unknown path with God? What’s one promise fulfilled you’ve seen God work in your life?
PS—I’m guest-posting over at my friend, Bethany McIlrath’s FIRST and SECOND blog. She has a special Word Works series. Please stop by!