Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Round and Round

Have you ever been there....walking in circles, your life stuck in the same cycle....over and over and over and over?  I have too, and it isn't a fun place to be.  I may think my situation is unique, but it's not.  People have been walking in circles since the book of Numbers was written, which was....well, a long time ago.

In Numbers, the Israelites were in one of those cycles.  I'll give you the short version of their story.  They were in slavery.  Bad, right?  God rescued them.  And he didn't just open up the gates of freedom and say, "You're free to go!"  But he pulled out all the stops.  He turned water to blood, he sent frogs, gnats, flies...  He covered the slave-owners in boils and finally, he killed the first born sons of the people who were enslaving the Israelites.  God was sending the message that He's no joke.  Then, on their way out, he parted the Red Sea for his people to cross through.  I mean, come on people - God. parted. a. sea.  A sea!  He made the water move out of the way for you.  If that's not miraculous, I'm not sure what is.  If that doesn't make you believe in the power and majesty of God, then you've got no hope.  Right?  So after that amazing rescue what follows is an endless flow of praise and thanks for their God.  I wish.  That would be the appropriate response, but it's not the Israelites' response.  Actually, it was just the opposite.  Out of their mouths came an incessant flow of complaining and whining.  They complain about the food.  They complain about their leaders.  They complain about the promised land that God wants to give them.  As a result of their doubting, their mistrust, their lack of gratitude, they wander in the dessert.  For 40 years!!  40 years of wandering because they choose to give themselves to fear and cravings instead of giving themselves to God and trusting.  Just trusting.

Every time I read this story I get so mad at these dumb people.  "Why can't you open your eyes?!  God showed you how amazing He is over and over!  He poured out his extravagant love on you in the form of a magnificent rescue.  He even manifested himself in the form of a CLOUD that stayed with could actually SEE him.  On top of that, he provided supernatural food for you each day.  What's your problem??"

Then...I feel a tap on the shoulder.  It's God, and he's pointing to the story...the part where the people are ungrateful.  The part where God has shown up two chapters before in miraculous ways and yet this chapter the people don't believe.  The part where the people are walking in circles because they aren't trusting Him.  He says, "See that?  Right now, that's your story too."  And it is.

God has rescued me so many times.  He has provided innumerable things for me and my family.  When someone asks me why I believe in God my answer is I believe because I've seen him work in my life, in my family's life.  I've seen his hand and I hear his voice.  Just like the Israelites.  Yet, just like those dumb Israelites I am often a silly girl who forgets and I find myself complaining, doubting, and therefore walking in circles.

I've decided I'm tired of circles.  Aren't you?  They're so pointless.  They're demoralizing and frustrating.  Mainly, they get us nowhere fast.  I don't want to go nowhere.  I want to go somewhere.  Don't you?

So what's our exit strategy?   I think it's found in the same story.  See, if you're going in circles in your life, like I feel like I sometimes am, we can recognize the story we're in and we can choose to exit that story and step into the one God has written for us.  That's the great news.  God had planned great things for his people the Israelites.  He had planned for them to enter this beautiful land full of God's abundance...but they wouldn't go.   They were afraid.  They chose to trust their past experience, their desire for comfort, their craving for the tasty foods of Egypt (the land they were enslaved in)...they trusted those things but not God.  But there was one.  Caleb.  He chose to trust God.  He decided that although the odds looked like they were stacked against them, that God overcame all of those odds.  He decided that if God had told them to "Go," then God would make a way.  He proclaimed that God being on their side was the only thing they should take into account when deciding whether to follow God or not.  And Caleb was right.  The proof is that he was the only one (the only ONE) who got enter the promised land.

So, today we get to choose.  What is God asking you to do?  Has he told you a direction to go in?   Maybe....apologize to someone who is unforgivable?   Quit your job with all its comforts and go in a different direction?  Step up and lead in a new and unfamiliar area?  Whatever it is, you have a choice.  You can choose to follow God into the promised land or continue to walk in circles in the dessert.  You can choose abundant life in God's hands or a keep doubting in the dessert and walk in circles in your strength.  Doesn't seem like a hard decision does it?

You only have to choose.  God will do the rest.  You don't have to have a plan of how you're going to follow him.  He's got that for you.  You just have to follow.  You have to let him guide your steps instead of letting fear take you in circles.

I don't know about you, but I will choose God.  I'm tired of the circles.  They stink.

23The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
when he delights in his way;
24 though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the Lord upholds his hand.
Psalm 37:23-24

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Our family made the switch to online television a few years back.  It seemed like a great idea during a time when we needed to cut our bills as much as possible.  I think all of us (kids included) have enjoyed the switch...except when the Roku decides to quit working.  (For those of you not familiar with internet tv, a Roku is a device that allows the internet and your tv to talk so you see the picture on your tv.)  When it quits working usually the only thing that will fix it is to completely unplug it, wait a few minutes, and then plug it back up.  Then it works beautifully!

This is what I've been doing for the past 2+ weeks.  I've unplugged myself.  See, I was plugged into food.  Sounds weird, I know...but let me explain.  Maybe you can relate?  See food had me.  I may have gone to the grocery store and said  that I got some food, but the truth is that the food had gotten me.  It was like I couldn't resist as much as I might have wanted to.  (And honestly, sometimes I didn't even want to resist.)    I just thought it was a bad habit...nothing to be concerned about because most people I knew seemed to share the same opinion of food.  However God had a different idea.  He started letting me see that since food had me, that it was an idol.  It was taking the place of God in my life.  

I know!  I thought the same thing - that's ridiculous.  It's really not that serious.  It's just food.  The problem wasn't just food.  It was my go-to.  It was my comfort when I was sad, tired, or angry.  It was my hope when I was bored or frustrated.  It was my god.  It was painful but God showed me this fact...slowly.  I don't think I could've or would've accepted the idea if he didn't gradually let me absorb this fact.  It just sounds ludicrous.  But one thing you can always count on with God is that he's always right.  Like it or not :-)  

So...he was right.  It was an idol.  Thankfully I say it was.  God showed me how to unplug myself...much like I have to do with our Roku when it stops working.  I unplugged and stopped eating my comfort foods cold turkey.  It was hard at first, but thanks to some support from my hubby who did this with me, it has been a huge success.  I'm still in the baby stages, because I've only been eating this way for 2.5 weeks, but there is hope.  God has given me the strength to do this when I KNOW I couldn't do it on my own strength.  The best part is that God has allowed me to see how much better things work when I follow his plan.  My body is much happier, and I'm finally starting to lose weight (although that wasn't my goal.)  

I'm writing about this and telling you my somewhat embarrassing confession to ask you what you've put in front of God.  Ask him if you don't know.  He'll tell you...and then he'll give you a plan and strength to carry out that plan.  He's pretty amazing you know.  He loves us and wants the best for us. He always has.  And always will.  

"...give us today our daily bread."