I just found this gem of a blog that I wrote when I was single, 24, living in a fairly remote town and praying daily for two things: a full time art teaching position back home and a husband.
“Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and constantly loves those who love him and obey his commands.”
How can we possibly love God as much as he loves us? We simply can’t. But God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He knows that we are sinful and limited in what we can do. Still, we need to love him. So where does that love begin? Loving God begins with sincerely being grateful for all he has done for us: creating us, sending Christ to die for us, choosing us to live with him in heaven, and giving us the Holy Spirit. Loving God also means being willing to do whatever he asks. In other words, loving God begins in your heart and is eventually shown through your actions.
God has been teaching me a lot about two things this year: Obedience and patience. I’m in the last place on earth I ever expected to be, therefore it is a struggle for me to be here. But God keeps reminding me that he called me here for a purpose, and it is not up to me to decide where I am, but Him. God called Moses to lead his people out of Egypt; along the way, they spent 40 years in the wilderness. This has got to be tough! I mean, being called by God and then having absolutely no idea where you are, what you’re doing, why you’re there – that takes a lot of strength and discipline to be so obedient. But God promises so many times in Deuteronomy that, so long as his people are obedient, he will bring them into the land of milk and honey. In the opening verses of chapter 8, he says “(1)Be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. Then you will live and multiply, and you will enter and occupy the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors”, then in chapter 10 he says “(12) and now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? He requires you to fear him, to live according to his will, to love and worship him with all your heart and soul, and to obey the Lord’s commands…”. Again, in chapter 11, God promises to deliver his people into a land rich with milk and honey. With all this obedience comes patience. Really, they go hand in hand. If we say we obey God but then go and take control, we’re not being patient enough to be obedient; we’re not waiting for God to take us into “the land of milk and honey”. We’re not willing to wait to be abundantly blessed – more than we could ever hope or dream – because we’re impatient.
I’m finding more and more, though, that the more I trust in God while I’m in this place I’m not comfortable in, the more patient I become. Although it’s tough being away from what is familiar, trusting in God – being patient and obedient – is getting me more excited about the land of milk and honey that He has set aside for me. Paul writes in Colossians (chapter 2) that “just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to live in obedience to him. Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught.” This is how we can be obedient: by planting ourselves in him daily (Luke 9v23: if any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross DAILY, and follow me). “Giving” our lives to Christ is the easy part, but allowing him to steer it is a lot harder. It’s not a one off thing, either: we must root ourselves in Christ daily, fix our eyes on heaven, be obedient and patient (and then the Jesus steering part will come easily) and God will lead us into a land of milk and honey.
So how is this done? I had a very wise man say to me yesterday “don’t throw everything away to follow Christ. Hold out your hands with everything in it, and give it to God. Allow him to take those things, even though, in our minds, we can be saying “oh no, don’t take that!” As he takes each thing (as we ALLOW him to take each thing), he puts something else in, often multiplying it, so that he blesses us with the “milk and honey” we require in our lives.”
This is truth. It’s not about throwing everything away, it’s about giving it up to him; holding out our hands and saying “here. THIS is yours. I want to be obedient to you.” Matthew 6v33: “Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you”. Besides, there’s no point arguing with God. Did you see what he did to the Egyptians when Pharoah refused to let God’s people go?
I haven’t looked at this blog for years but I’d like to share what happened in the months that followed. Within weeks of writing this, I met a guy. Our friendship started of slowly (and I mean REALLY slowly – we lost touch for a year!) but then, one day, we were both invited to a party of a mutual friend. Not knowing that the other was invited, neither of us actually wanted to go, but something inside each of us dragged us along. There’s a lot more to this story than I’ll say here but, long story short, we reconnected and gradually, over the next 6 months we built a solid friendship.
I was still living a few hours away and didn’t feel like there was much hope of a job back in the city, but I continued praying over my career and the new friendship I had formed, trusting in God and staying patient (that’s really hard to do!).
One of my closest friends, who I had met through uni and who had managed to find a job in the city when we graduated, told me that her and her husband were moving overseas and that her job was available. In what seemed like a whirlwind, I was having an interview and, shortly after, accepting the job offer.
The day I moved back to the city Matt and I went on our first date and, fast forward 4.5 years, we are excruciatingly happily married.
I was faithful to God, patiently and prayerfully navigating my way through a season of discomfort, and my God was faithful to me, delivering me into my land of milk and honey.
But I want to make this point, if nothing else sticks: we live in seasons, and there are always going to be more lands of milk and honey. I am living in my land that I prayed for 6 years ago, but am now praying for another one that will take us from this current season to the next. Despite knowing God’s faithfulness and experiencing his deliverance, patience is just as difficult as it was all those years ago; but it is our constant obedience to Him that will see us through.