Remember that the LORD led you on the entire journey these 40 years in the wilderness, so that He might humble you and test you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands…Keep in mind that the LORD your God has been disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. So keep the commands of the LORD your God by walking in His ways and fearing Him. For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land…be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery…When the LORD your God drives them out before you, do not say to yourself, ‘The LORD brought me in to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.’ Instead, the LORD will drive out these nations before you because of their wickedness. You are not going to take possession of their land because of your righteousness or your integrity. Instead, the LORD your God will drive out these nations before you because of their wickedness, in order to keep the promise He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Deuteronomy 8:2, 5-7a, 14, 9:4-5
The Israelites were on the brink of coming out of a 40-year testing period to shape and grow their faith by showcasing GOD’s faithfulness, even when they were unfaithful. Much is written about how to go through trials when you are in the middle of the fire and the storm. What is rarely talked about is how to transition from the storm to the blessing and grab hold of what GOD has brought me to and not slip back into the bad habits of the familiar that led me into my own personal wilderness in the first place. I absolutely do not want to go back there. But, without constant vigilance to remember the lessons of the wilderness, old habits can sneak back in unawares and establish themselves as the default again against my will, if I am not paying attention to maintaining the disciplines that GOD has taught me in my wilderness.
Another danger of coming to the end of an intense period of difficulty, is the human tendency to forget when the pressure lets up and a measure of comfort, safety and success set in is to develop selective amnesia as to what and who is responsible for past or ongoing blessings. When I start to take credit for what GOD did — or let others whose hands He may have used to dispense pieces of the blessing steal His thunder and put the spotlight on them instead, I am not showcasing His glory in the provisions He and He alone have made for us.
He has not rescued us because I or the kids are just some special brand of awesome sauce. I have prayed in the midst of my trials as David prayed:
Lord, how long will You look on?
Rescue my soul from their ravages,
My only life from the lions.
I will give You thanks in the great congregation;
I will praise You among a mighty throng.
To forget that now and fail to point back to Him for all the goodness He has provided for us and will continue to provide is to completely disrespect, disregard and spit in the face of all His faithfulness. As Paul frequently said, “May it never be!” Any good I have now and any good to come in the future is all and only because of Him and Him alone! I would be remiss in my gratitude and my example to my kids if I let myself forget that and fail to teach and share God’s goodness at every opportunity, to pass on a heritage of gratefulness and respect for God’s hand leading us through the fire at every step and remaining with us in the calm to hold us tight and keep us on the right path.
He has carved me, shaped me, drained away the dross and sifted the chaff, taught me spiritual and financial disciplines and transformed my thinking to draw me closer to Him. He is the greatest blessing of all out of all we have gone through these past several years. Many ask why He allows such trials. I can now say without a doubt that the purpose of my trials has been this very thing….to test me, strengthen me and prove the true content of my heart toward Him in order to prepare me for the next assignments He has for me which will shape me even further for those that follow.
He has gone to great lengths to get my attention and turn my focus on Him rather than my own fears and failings, not only in His sacrifice on the Cross but every specific of every step through our period of greatest difficulty in the last three years. I’ve been places I never wanted to go, waited longer than I ever thought I would need to, endured heartbreak, shame, false accusations, condescension and self righteous “advisors.” But I have also found my strength in depending solely on Him, leaving every impossible situation in His hands and laying aside my worries to find that exactly what we truly need comes to pass on an exact schedule (solutions appearing precisely to the day) that it can only be GOD signing His handiwork and letting it be known that it was His hand that did this.
Having been disciplined to teach me the disciplines of being in close communion with my LORD and SAVIOR and walking out the disciplines of bearing the fruit that matches the Truth that I have been and am walking constantly in His presence, I cannot help but fulfill my end of the “bargain” and give Him praise “in the great congregation.” Not out of duty or obligation or fear of punishment — out of a heart of true gratitude and honor that He would do this for such as me. Because the purpose of my trials is draw others to Him through the testimony of His faithfulness. People have asked how I do it….all I can say is, I don’t. He does. I just follow His lead. Having experienced Him so intimately, I never want to forget and lose that sense of closeness with my Creator GOD who pulled us up out of the pit and the miry clay and set our feet upon the Rock of His salvation!
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous for the LORD your GOD will go with you wherever you go! Joshua 1:9
I am not ashamed for I know in Whom I have believed and am convinced that He is able to guard that which I have entrusted to Him until that day. 2 Timothy 1:12