Jeremiah 31: 2
“Thus saith the Lord, The people who which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness;”
The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Je 31:2). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
Have you ever felt alone even though you’re in the midst of many? I know I have. This last week, my husband and I waited in the Starbucks line when he casually asked, “Have you ever felt alone or is that something just us shy people experience?” I replied with sincerity, expressing the depth of loneliness I have felt in my lifetime. Instantly, he could see that loneliness wasn’t just for “shy” people.
Loneliness often reveals itself when we’re walking through a difficult season of life. Life’s journey is sure to lead us to the wilderness at one time or another. I have applied so much energy to avoid the desolate places that I had to walk through; there was no detour, short cut, or easy way around it. I dreaded these moments in life. I held my breath and walked through the wilderness with a desire to complete the journey, untouched, as quickly as possible. I know these places of desolation, wilderness, loneliness, and drought are for my good, not my end. Yet, that doesn’t remove the pain that they bring with them.
“And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.”
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mk 6:31). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
I remember the moment of solitude when the Lord asked me to stop rushing through the wilderness. I remember when He invited me to pause and fellowship with Him in the midst of my most desolate places. I shared this memory with my daughter. Without hesitation, she replied, “Oh! The desolation, that doesn’t sound like a pleasant place!” She verbalized what my soul had screamed on multiple occasions in my lifetime.
At that time, I thought my survival was dependent on how fast I could get through these hard and painful moments. The idea that He called me to this desolate place; that He wanted to fellowship with me in the wilderness, brought a whole new outlook to this journey through the desert. Looking back, I can clearly see God had provided grace in the wilderness. God was in the very place, the desert, that I was trying to avoid.
Are you walking through the wilderness? Do you feel alone as you travel? Take heart, dear friend; God is there calling you to come away with Him to that quiet place filled with grace!!
Discovering Grace In The Wilderness
- Create a gratitude book devoted to this season of life.
- Use colored pencils! Allow your creativity to add splashes of art on the pages as you journal.
- Enjoy this uplifting Spotify account, Grace in the Wilderness, with encouraging music
- Gather reminders of encouraging passages from Scripture. Place these reminders around the house, in the car, and in your workplace.
- Make time to be quiet before the Lord, praying and reading the Word. Be careful to guard this time! Don’t let any busy work steal this time away from you.
I was heading out the door to have lunch with a friend when my mother asked for my thoughts on a matter. I didn’t look up as I spoke. Instead. I continued searching my purse for the missing keys and replied that I didn’t know the answer. She asked, “You don’t feel like the Holy Spirit is giving you any direction?” Without much thought, I replied, “Mom, right now I don’t’ know if I’m hearing the Lord’s voice or my hormones.” We giggled, and I rushed out the door.
It’s important for me to recognize my limitations and biases as I go to the Lord in prayer. This lesson was painful for me to learn. There have been times when I wanted something so desperately it distorted my ability to listen. To be honest, I don’t think I wanted to hear His voice. I wanted Him to hear mine. I wanted Him to agree with me instead of me aligning myself with him.
There have been other times when I couldn’t hear anything at all. No matter how much I cried out to Him for answers, he remained quiet. Have you ever needed to hear from the Lord? Were you uncertain you could hear His voice, even if he used a megaphone to speak to you? Yes! I’ve been in that place too. There are times when I only want to say, “Speak up Lord, I’m hormonal,” but the reality is, He already knows that.
Praying through our Emotions.
So, how do we hear the Lord’s voice in the midst of our emotions? Or how do we make sense of His silence? Well, I don’t have all those answers, but here are a few things that I’ve learned over the years.
Spend time in the Word- There are no shortcuts here. We must spend time with the Lord through the reading of His Word if we expect to hear His voice. Don’t think I am promoting the idea that we begin hopping around the Bible, grabbing at any verse to make it apply. Instead, let’s spend time with the Lord to understand the context of what’s written. Let’s read to learn God’s character, God’s desires, and God’s plan for us.
Spend time in Prayer- This goes without saying, but I’ll just say it to make sure we’re all on the same page. Friends, if we want to hear from God, then we must position ourselves so we can hear from God. It’s important to find time to pray on a regular basis. Joe, my husband, and I spend time each morning praying. I spend the evenings in private prayer for people and issues important to me. Those are both quiet times set aside for nothing but prayer. Yet, during the day, I am often thinking of someone or a situation that I will talk to the Lord about. Prayer is simply a conversation with God. Like all relationships, the more I listen (by reading the Word) and talk to God (through prayer) the more my relationship grows.
Give it time- I have learned that waiting is an active task. God is at work even when it feels all is at a standstill. God is changing me. If only I could remember in the midst of waiting all the times past when waiting had its perfect work in my life.
Okay, now what?
You might be saying, “Okay, I know those things, and I do them for the most part, but I still don’t know when it’s God’s voice or when it’s my own.” Hold tight. I’ve got a few more suggestions you will find helpful.
If you’re like me, you can be in prayer, be in the Word, be waiting, and still not know if God’s leading you to go this way or to go that way. In those times, I am encouraged by the testimony of Moses, Gideon, or Thomas (just to list a few) who needed God to reveal Himself through events. I ask God to open doors no man can open and shut doors no man can shut. God has been so gracious to me over the years to give me hope in tangible ways and provide direction when I wasn’t sure which way to go. I know He’ll do the same for you. He’s no respecter of persons.
A final note, Let’s keep our emotions in their proper place! When my little girls were growing up, I would remind them that emotions should act as a thermometer to show us our current situation. Emotions are not a compass that takes us off in this direction or that direction. It’s important to govern our emotions if we want to be emotionally and spiritually healthy! When our emotions or hormones do get the best of us… let’s just remember that the God of the universe loves us even in the midst of our hormonal mess.
Until our next chat,
Mrs. Joseph Wood
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Guarding our Joy is no easy task. If we’re not careful, trials and unwanted surprises can snatch our joy in an instant. So, how do we prepare ourselves from all the Joy Stealers that we are all bound to face at some point in our lives?
1 Peter 1:3-7 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. ~ The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Pe 1:3–7). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Two Powerful Reminders When Guarding Our Joy:
Step One: Focus our attention on our Living Hope and not the moment. Because of His great mercy, we now possess a hope that was meant for our good while we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. We don’t have to wait until a trial is over to have this Hope. We can have Hope in the midst of the heartbreak. Not an ordinary hope, rather a Living Hope that produces Joy. Isn’t it wonderful that God is guarding all the blessings He has stored for us? Isn’t it a joyful reminder to consider that He will never leave us or forsake us. His blessings and His promises are not dependent on our abilities or strength, but His alone. Walking in Joy is possible when we set our attention on our Hope instead of our heartbreaks.
Step Two: Set our attention on praise. Living a Joy filled life will spill over in our actions. We will smile more, say kind words, and think joy building thoughts. Research confirms what the Scriptures tell us. When we smile, listen to joyful music, or surround ourselves with others who are joy filled we too are more joyful.
Three Of My Favorite Scriptures For Guarding Joy
There are so many verses and testimonies in the Scriptures that encourage me to hold fast to my Joy, however, one of my favorite verses that I often remind the family of is in Philippians. I can’t emphasize enough, the importance of taking our thoughts captive. We must set our attention on giving praise to the One who can do exceedingly, abundantly, more in our lives than we could have ever imagined.
Philippians 4:8-9 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. ~ The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Php 4:8–9). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. ~ The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ga 5:22–23). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Philippians 4: 4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. ~ The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Php 4:4–7). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
I hope you’ll join me today as I make the decision to cut off any and all excuses that would keep me from guarding my Joy!
To God be the Glory,
Mrs. Joseph Wood
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