Sara, a.k.a., “me” is a former high school English teacher currently teaching elementary school reading. The back story to that is another tale of faith and surrender. Sara also holds the more non-officious titles of pastor’s wife, mommy, Auntie Bear, and El Presidente. Okay, that last one I made up, but I am the “official” president of our local community theater organization! 🙂 Sara has a passion for writing and blogs occasionally regularly at her blog, Confessions of the Pastor’s Wife. Sara loves studying the Bible and, as she recently told members of her church’s youth group, “I think the Bible is cool.”
“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
The other night at youth group, one of the leaders created a game for the youth to play based on the Israelite’s wanderings through the desert. The youth were divided into tribes ,blindfolded, and led on a journey to complete a series of tasks within and around the church building. The evening concluded with an epic rock, paper, scissors battle in which the victorious tribe was offered the choicest section of the Promised Land, a.k.a., a huge bowl of chocolate candy!!
Watching the youth go through this “wilderness” experience got me thinking about what it means to truly live by faith. Living by faith is about more than saying, “I believe in God.” Living by faith is about trusting when it seems that there’s nothing to trust in. It means obeying when the task at hand seems pointless, or trivial, or above us ,or too challenging, or destined to fail. Living by faith means admitting that we can’t take this journey alone, that we don’t have the answers to our problems, that we can’t pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and carve out a path for ourselves in this world. Living by faith means depending on God and allowing him to lead us and mold us into the people he has created us to be and to follow him along the paths that he has laid out for us, engaging in the work he has sent us to do.
Like our youth at church, we, too, often wander through our lives blindfolded. We cannot see what is ahead of us, and we cannot change what is behind. There are moments and occurrences that make us feel as if we will surely be overtaken by the desert. There are times when we feel like we are withering alone, and that the heat will soon overtake us. A loved one has been lost or has chosen to leave. Disease has entered into our once healthy life. Unemployment or underemployment threaten to take away all that we have attained. Addiction consumes us. Lonliness, anxiety depression and fear seem to overpower us. We worship at the idol of busy-ness. And, like the Israelites, we question God, our Creator, the Sustainer of our lives, the one who has been our Redeemer time and time again.
Yet, we are not alone on our wilderness journeys. Whatever this messy and convoluted life might throw in our paths, God is there to lead and guide us through to the perfect place he has set aside for us. God has a purpose and a plan for each of our lives. And he’s there, in the desert, calling each of our names. He longs to give us peace, and rest and hope. He has food from heaven to bestow upon our hungry souls. It is up to us to listen, and to follow the sound of his voice through the wilderness.
When I was 25, I spent some time wandering in the wilderness. I was depressed, adrift, trying to figure out where, exactly, I was supposed to be. Finally listening to the voice of The One calling in my wilderness, I quit my teaching job, packed up my belongings, blew my savings account on a trip to Europe, and came back home to move to Chicago and go to seminary in pursuit of a degree in Christian Education.
My father thought I was nuts, although as the wonderful nurturing father he is, he supported me anyway. My two years at seminary were profoundly life changing. I dug deep inside myself and found that person God had created me to be. I also met my husband. We have since brought two beautiful children into this world. In following God, no matter how crazy the plan seemed, God got me exactly where he intended me to be.
Living a life of faith means stepping out of ourselves and into the strong and mighty hands of God. It means giving ourselves fully and completely over to him. It means surrendering all we once held dear. It means trusting, in spite of what happens in this world, that God has a plan and that the plan is good. It means that we’re okay not having all the answers because we know that we belong to the One who Does.
It seems fitting to close this post with a passage from the book of Ephesians.
“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.”
Blessings and Peace,