Has your mind ever gotten stuck, so stubbornly stuck on a matter that you can’t seem to shake it off?
I’ve been “stuck” in the wilderness with the Israelites lately, hanging out in Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy primarily. Days and days of research, of diving deeper, of asking questions. And finally, something jumped out at me. The Israelites couldn’t claim their promised land until first they had let a faithless, grumbling generation die off (Numbers 14) and, secondly, had conquered, one by one, the nations occupying their land (Deuteronomy 7). (As a self-proclaimed nerd, I found this fascinating!) But what does that mean for me? For us?
We like to use the “wilderness” and the “promised land” as symbols of life, and so we should. The Word of God isn’t merely a historical narrative. It’s a letter from God’s heart to ours. And the “promised land” isn’t heaven, by the way. Heaven will have no idolatrous nations to conquer, as the promised land did. Our “promised land” is quite simply the abundant life Jesus came to give us, in the here and now.
But most of us tend to feel like we’re wandering in a wilderness rather than living in our abundant life. So, what to do??
Well, God’s original plan would’ve put the nation of Israel into their promised land in less than a year and a half after leaving Egypt. Depending on Him to guide them and provide for their needs…Listening to His Word given at Sinai…Witnessing many signs and miracles along the way to affirm their faith. Yet with all that, when they faced the promised land and saw all that would have to be conquered, the giants in the land, most people let fear enter in.
They grumbled and complained. They voiced their distrust in God. They openly rebelled. They lost faith.
And they were sent back to the wilderness for a total of 40 years altogether. They were sent to the wilderness so that the faithless generation could die off. And the new generation wouldn’t be allowed to enter the promised land until all that rebellion, distrust, grumbling, rebellion and faithlessness had died.
Is there anything in you that’s been keeping you wandering in the wilderness that just needs to die off?
For me, I need to let grumbling die off. I also need to let my personal expectations die. Others and circumstances around me are beyond my control and my expectations merely put them in a box in which they’ll never stay.
If Jesus came to give me abundant life, right here, right now, my complaining and my controlling expectations will only keep me from entering into that abundance. How can I have abundance if all I see around me is negativity? How can I live in abundance if I live ungratefully?
So, what about you? I didn’t realize my expectations were a problem until I asked God and He told me. Take some time with Him today and hear what He has to say about the wilderness you may currently be in and the promised land He has ready for you.
So, yesterday was a pretty terrible day for me. Nothing external that happened was bad necessarily. It was mostly just me…emotions running high and hormones running everywhere. I was absolutely NOT at my best and I knew it. (Anyone relating here??)
But this morning, something miraculous happened! I got a fresh start! I woke up before my alarm (miraculous in and of itself!), got to snuggle with my hubby, get a shower while the house was quiet, and have some time in the Word and actually listening for God’s voice in the (still) quiet, pre-dawn hours. After a while, I put on some worship music and listened through my earphones. Just minutes later, my son emerged, fully dressed. Despite my crabbiness from the previous day, he came over to me. And despite how I’d felt the day before, I tapped the seat and he climbed up to cuddle with me while we shared the headphones.
What a different start to the day! What a needed change! “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies are new every morning…” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
I got to experience those new mercies this morning, even though I didn’t do a thing to deserve it. God is just good…that’s it.
I could have started this day regretting how yesterday went. But all that would have served to accomplish is assure that this day would be a new regret. But, instead, today my goal is to focus on God TODAY, letting go of yesterday and not worrying about tomorrow. Today is what I have…and Today is full of His new mercies.
Continuing along on our journey of being a foster family, I wanted to chat about THE question that inevitably always comes up when talking to someone unfamiliar with or new to foster care: “How will you be able to let them go?”
Well, last week was our first personal experience with this, so I feel like I finally have a credible answer to give. First of all, every family is different and every child’s case is different. Some kids end up going to places that are less than ideal in the eyes of the foster parents. Others go to safe, loving homes. And still others go to places that have been proven unsafe and unloving, with a good chance that this child could end up back in the system. So, I will not presume to touch on every varying possibility, but I am more than happy to share our own experience and hopefully it’s an encouragement to you.
Last week, our sweet little foster daughter left us to go live with a relative. We had the privilege of caring for her and including her in our family for four months. We got to see her first steps, teach her new words and smother her in love. In return, we were blessed with her smiles and kisses and the peace of knowing that we were exactly where God wanted us to be.
Looking back over the course of those months, I see God’s favor everywhere! We worked with some amazing people, from CPS workers (yep, it’s true!) to hospital staff to our agency, support group and more. The people on this case cared about her well-being most of all and it was such a blessing to see that happening. It was a crazy mixture of emotions that swept over me when we were told that she would be leaving “next week”. Suddenly we had to think about gathering all her possessions and inventorying them, all the while feeling so grieved and saddened that we may not ever see her again. I vacillated between peace and mourning, relief and deep sadness, excitement for her and fear about her transitioning. Up and down for days!
But one thing helped us the most: from the very beginning of this journey for us, we kept in mind that until God tells us otherwise, these children that we invite into our family are not “ours”…at least not yet. We are the caretakers standing in while their forever home is prepared. Our hope has always been to adopt, and that is still the case. But until that is legally available as an option to us, God has helped us give love freely and fully, while still holding them loosely in our hearts.
People often say, “I could never do that! I’d get too attached and wouldn’t want them to go!” I get it…we got attached too. She was so unbelievably precious, it would’ve been a lost cause to even try to avoid attachment. And that’s exactly what I said when I tried to avoid walking this road two years ago. But God dropped peace on me, over and over and over again. I knew that it was okay for my heart to get a little bruised and it’d be worth it if I could be a safe place for God’s little princess.
Along with peace and favor, God just showed off in so many little ways! Without seeking it out, I was invited to meet the out-of-town relative that would be the new guardian for this sweet girl. That meeting alone dispelled fear and gave me reassurance that she’d be safe and well-loved. I was thanked profusely for everything we did and was assured that we would be able to maintain contact and hear updates as she grows.
So, when the day came to say good-bye, along with the rest of her things, I tucked in a scrapbook with pictures and prayers to say how wonderful she is and how much she touched our lives. We had one last dance party in the living room, watched her shake her little booty to the rhythm, shared tons of hugs and kisses and waved bye-bye as she was driven away. The house was noticeably quiet that day (even with our two kiddos)! I looked around at the baby things and felt her missing. But even as we started to pack those things away and go on with the business of life, like the excitement of grocery shopping, God drenched us in peace.
Peace amidst the heartache and sadness. Peace that helps me enjoy the back-step to two children in the house. Peace to trust that God knows better than I do. Peace that I am confident this adorable little girl is safe, loved and getting comfortable in her new home.
As for us, we are taking a break for a little while to rest and rejuvenate and most importantly to listen to what God has next for our family. His timing is perfect.
If you’re a foster/adoptive family or are considering it, visit Chosen Ones! God brings special families together and this amazing ministry provides support and encouragement to make these families successful. They have immensely blessed us in our journey and I can’t imagine having walked this road without them!