I can’t help but write an article about this since this word really echoes what I’ve been through in the past weeks. I have been asking God about something and it’s amusing how clear His answers were for me and how often he had repeated them to me via His Word, the Bible. He would often repeat Himself over and again until His Word begins to sink in my stubborn mind.
When I didn’t know better, there are times when I would wonder why I sometimes feel stuck, stagnant and not growing spiritually. I would then feel frustrated and confused- the kind of frustration that I would feel when I cannot reach the next levels of a video game that I was addicted to. By the way, I’m not just referring to the typical “plant, wait and harvest” games (no offense to those who enjoy those games) but to those which include quests, role-play, strategy, and adventure that require brainstorming. ^_^
It took me years before I discovered that I felt stagnant because I haven’t overcome what I needed to overcome. I was only able to realize this when I really started to experience Christ and when I chose to be a ‘thinking’ Christian. I remember learning from someone that Christianity is not just blind obedience. God gave us brilliant minds for us to use them well especially in our journey as a Christian. As we progress in our faith, God would often present us with challenges, scenarios and situations for us to level up and for us to be more like Christ. From what I’ve experienced, I think we are given the following options:
- Let go and let God take the wheel.
- Do it your way and remain in unbelief, disobedience, and/or rebellion.
I had chosen the second option for countless times but I only felt more lost and stagnant. I call those moments now as ‘the wilderness’. It makes me remember the stubbornness of the Israelites in Moses’ time when they were on their way to the land that God promised to them. Most of them didn’t make it alive to the Promised Land because of disobedience and unbelief (scary, right?). They would grumble and complain (like what I sometimes do) as if God didn’t do amazing things for them during their exodus from Egypt. It must have been very awful for them to stay in the wilderness and be so near yet so far to what God had promised them. It is similar to our challenges that we encounter nowadays. The longer we stay in unbelief, disobedience and/or rebellion, the longer we stay in our ‘wilderness’.
When I was volunteering for Global Xchange, our first challenge in Bristol was to locate our host parents’ homes, using only the city map and bus routes list given to us, take a picture of the exterior of the house and go back. We had to partner with our work counterpart and we only had a few hours to do the task. Both of us are easily distracted so it took us ages to find the house of my hostparents. We ended up taking a bus route that goes a long way around and we had to walk past allotments (these are grounds in or just outside a town that a person rents for growing vegetables, fruits or flowers).
It was lovely at first because we got to take photos of beautiful sceneries, flowers and plants (that I’ve never seen before since I grew up in a tropical country). Then we realized we no longer have enough time to do our task and make it back on time. My work counterpart and I eventually felt tired. We both decided to be oblivious to the beautiful things we would pass by so we can accomplish what we had to do. We were the last to return to the base. Later on, we discovered that we took the longest route. The route that we chose took us about more than an hour and the shortest route from the city center is just about 20 minutes max.
Wandering around being lost isn’t always fun. It could be filled with fun and excitement at first but it would eventually tire you out. It’s even more disappointing to later on realize that there was a quick way out and you didn’t choose it.
So now that I know better, every time I feel like I’m stuck or stagnant, I would start to pray for wisdom and revelations so that I could get out of ‘the wilderness’ soon and be victorious. Choosing the first option does not guarantee that it’ll always be lovely and easy but it guarantees that we will be able to overcome the challenges quickly and victoriously.
As I grew in faith and as I encounter more of these challenges, I learned that the best way is to just let go and let God take the wheel. God is changing us from glory to glory and is molding us into the best we can be.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. -2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV)
The ‘wilderness’ requires us to battle for survival but to survive, we should never rely only on our own strength. God wants us to have a strong faith and to just rely on Him alone for strength and wisdom. The Israelites were finally able to reach the promised land because they had a Joshua with them. He had a strong faith. He even dared ask God to stop time and God did. (Joshua 10)
Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. -Deuteronomy 8:2 (NIV)
I encountered the following verses while I was trying to review the story of Moses and the Israelites when they were in the wilderness. I was awe-struck when I read them because God was still faithful to them but at the same time He was just. He wanted them to learn a lesson and He knew that it was for their own good.
The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything. -Deuteronomy 2:7 (NIV)
Yet the LORD says, “During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet. -Deuteronomy 29:5 (NIV)
I believe God is still the same faithful, loving and just God in Moses’ time. He is always watching over us, wanting what’s best for us. The molding and training can be painful at times but I know the end results are always better. Would you rather stay in your ‘wilderness’ or be a survivor and an overcomer? If I were you, I would choose the latter.