When God Brings You Out

I was reading over at Beauty Beyond Bones, and was touched by her very vulnerable post, sharing  how the enemy of our souls can use memories of dark times in our lives to discourage and disparage.  I’ve been going through some personal evaluation myself, and her story just struck a chord.

Haven’t we all been there?  We long to leave difficult seasons in the past, but we visit a place, run into someone with a really good memory, hear a song, or maybe it’s a smell?  Anniversaries come around, or perhaps we run across a belonging from that forgotten time period, and it all comes rushing back.

When God Brings You Out

It really reminds me of how God used Joshua to lead the camp of Israel across the Jordan and into their promised land. (Joshua 3 &4)  God had already brought them out of Egypt, and He could have brought them to the Promised Land through a short and uncomplicated path, but I kind of think God knew they needed time and difficult circumstances to teach them to trust Him after all those years in captivity.  They went the long way, and had opportunity to witness miracle after miracle, but because of their lack of faith they ended up wandering in the wilderness for 40 years.

When God decided it was time for Israel to leave the wilderness, He used no less spectacular means than usual to lead them homeHe parted the waters of the Jordan for them to cross on dry land. Of those who crossed over, Scriptures tells that 40,000 of them were dressed and ready for battle.  And only after they crossed over safely did the Ark of the Lord come up out of the Jordan and allow the waters to return to their place.

Afterward, the Lord had them take 12 large stones from the Jordan, one for each tribe of Israel, and they set them up where they camped.  Likewise, Joshua erected 12 stones in the midst of the Jordan, where they would remain.

The stones?  Stones of Remembrance that God wanted them to be able to see and remember what God had done for them.  Some of those people probably wished they could just forget the past and make a new start.  But God wanted them to have Memorials to testify to them, and to their children, and to the world that the “hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”

There was a time when the pain of losing my parents was still quite fresh, and the grief was still so strong that it choked.  I feared drowning in the waters when I remembered where I had come from, and who I could have been if I had followed the example that had been set for me.  I cried out to the Lord and told him I didn’t want to be that person.

Immediately He answered me, saying simply, “I brought you out.”

Simple as that.  I didn’t need to be anxious about what could have been.  My current path is different because God intentionally intervened on my behalf.  He brought me out and into His will.  

God lets us dwell in those dark periods for a time, and then like Israel, He brings us out.  He parts the waters for us, and makes straight the way for us to travel. He then brings up the rear to make sure we land safely on the other side.  He makes sure we are prepared for the battles required to take the ground He has purposed for us, giving us the Armor of the Lord, and then He fights alongside us, delivering victory into our hands a day at a time.

No matter how dark our dark places have been, or how fierce the battle is today, God promises us that He works it all together for our good as we love and follow Him.

“I brought you out,” is His reminder to us.

He doesn’t want us to forget where we came from.  He wants us to be able to look back and testify to His faithfulness, His goodness, and His loving kindness toward us.  These are faith building because there are more Jordans ahead, and we need to trust Him if we’re going to keep our bearing.

So let healing continue to take its course.  Smile when people remember who you used to be and invite them to praise God with you for what He has done and what He still wants to do.  Praise Him for being a God of Restoration. Transformation. Recovery. And Hope!

Get rid of the things that don’t speak life to you anymore.  Surround yourself with people who affirm God’s goodness in your life, as well as things that affirm truth.  Wallow in God’s Word!

When those old memories threaten to get you down, call them what they are.  They are your Stones of Remembrance.  They don’t define you.  They can’t break you.  They simply remind you that the hand of the Lord is mighty.

He is the one who lifts you up, and He Brings You Out, Safely, every single time.  He will always lead you home.

 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

 

 

Let Them Imitate You

I was standing at the sink, scrubbing the residue of Keto-Angel Food Cake from the bundt pan, when I faintly heard the sound of someone miffed across the room.  It wasn’t serious, so I kept scrubbing.

And then I heard my 19 year old Angel Girl speak up.  Her tone was patient and kind.  “Ella, it’s okay for them to copy you.  You’re a big sister.  Get used to it.”

I paused and looked up, surprised by wisdom.  Then I smiled at her.  “Didn’t I used to say that to you?”

“Yes,” she chuckled, “and I hated it.”

Truth.  You just can’t run away from it.

That first born baby learns so much from following mama around.  I even had to teach her how to play… but then the next baby comes, and the next, and they watch how to learn and play from their older siblings, too.

BeFunky Collage

When we moved to this town and this camp, I remember being overwhelmed by the idea that I was the Director’s wife and should be setting an example of a Godly women for other staff wives and campers.  Whether I liked it or not, there were times I knew eyes were on me.

Some constituents of the camp were curious, or concerned, about who we were and what this new director would do with the camp.  Churches we visited were interested in our growing family and homeschooling adventure.  And you can’t forget the cute little girls who sang their way through every store… who can ignore that?

I remember being so self conscious.  I was young and I was living through the most devastating season of my life, emotions raw, and patience thin.  I was so afraid other people would realize how flawed I was, and that would somehow undermine my husband.  I think my worry was magnified by having supported him through an internship that stressed that families were evaluated, and would impact the intern’s final assessment.  Many times I wished I could hide.

And then one Ladies’ Retreat, after being here for a year, I noticed how the women were getting more comfortable around me.  They shared things that concerned me.  Women who were decades older than me were just as self conscious–more so, and I thought to myself, “I thought that by that age women had it together!”  Apparently not, and that was what concerned me.  I wanted to have it together (if that’s possible).  I didn’t want to be in the same place thirty, or forty, or even fifty years down the road.  I wanted to be, well, mature–emotionally and spiritually.

I bought a new Life Application Study Bible and began again at Genesis, reading every single study note.  I read books by Godly authors and blogs that modeled what I had never seen put into practice.

I prayed for a mentor, and God sent me my friend, Sherrill.  She took me through a book called Search for Significance.  It was only 13 chapters, but it was a very hard 13 chapters!  It took me a whole year because when God sets about changing a heart, it’s a process, and he is thorough.  I wrestled and cried through it, as God pried the lies that had shaped my character out of my sweaty hands and replaced them with the Truth of what HE said about me and this relationship I have with the King of the Universe.

Whenever I thought we were done, He would open a new chapter of refinement that  continues, even to this day.  Looking back, I notice how my gaze shifted away from the gawkers and onto HIM.

I stopped worrying what other people thought about me, and I developed concern for what other people think about HIM.

The Apostle Paul said this, in 1 Corinthians 4:16, “I urge you, then, be imitators of me.

Paul is teaching the church in Corinthians what their conduct should look like, and then he tells them to imitate him, as children imitate their father.  Not only that, but he says it in Ephesians 5, and again in 1 Corinthians 11:1, modeling for us how to deal with being under the magnifying glass…

“Copy me, my brothers, as I copy Christ himself.”

There are always going to be eyes on us.  Jesus said others will know we are his disciples by our behavior.  Instead of viewing it as a burden, lets embrace the responsibility for what it is: an opportunity to reflect Christ to the world.

Whether at home or without, people learn by watching and by doing.  There is always going to be someone less spiritually mature than you are.  There is always going to be someone more spiritually mature than you are, as well.

Ask someone who is in the “more mature” camp to mentor you, and be blessed by their example.

Imitate Christ, and keep your eyes trained on Him instead of your audience, but take joy in every opportunity to help a less mature brother or sister grow up in Jesus.  Remember that there will be countless times you will not even know that, in letting the Holy Spirit work in you and through you, you touch a life in a powerful way, simply because someone is watching you.

Let them imitate you.