Thursday, July 21, 2016

Waiting on the Lord while Handling the Desert Experiences in Life

We all know that life on this earth isn’t easy. It is a journey that begins with our conception and extends until we die. Fortunately, most of us, especially those who have been blessed to have been born in the United States of America, have many happy times amidst the trials and tribulations that come from living in a fallen world. But, those of us who know Christ as our Savior have the additional benefit of having an internal peace and happiness that gives us the ability, with God’s help, to handle the adverse times that we encounter here on earth. This internal peace and happiness along with the many joyous times of celebrations and achievements gets us through the times of trials and tribulations. This is because Christians have trusted in our faithful God, and we know that we also have God pulling us through the hard times as He teaches us how to trust in and be dependent upon Him. God’s love for His children is also seen even during our times of discipline and hardship, or even during the desert periods or desert experiences of our lives. Moreover, we know that no matter how hard the times get God will never abandon us, even as He continues to teach us to be dependent on Him.

As we journey through life, everyone will be given a chance to come to know their Creator and Savior. Some people get a chance to know Him when they are told of Jesus Christ as a small child and believe on Him, while others may hear, understand, and finally accept Christ’s love and Salvation in later life or old age. But rest assured, we can come to Christ at any point in our lives, if we are just willing to hear the Gospel message and then believe on Christ. But, we only get the chance to come to God through His Son, Jesus Christ, sometime before we take our last breath, die and leave this earth. After that it is too late, because our eternal decision has already been made.

Unfortunately, during their life journey many other people will hear the Holy Spirit calling and nudging them to make a decision to believe on and accept Christ as their Savior, but they will just ignore or refuse to recognize God and His Son, basically because of their pride. You see, whether we are rich or poor, our pride and our reliance on a known quantity, i.e. life as we know it, often keeps people from trusting in God’s provision for their eternal souls. Still other people’s life struggles create an anger deep within them that keeps them from believing in a loving God. They cling to their anger and will simply refuse to accept the gift of love, mercy and grace that was offered for their Salvation, because they are too angry at the world and themselves, or they are just too prideful to humble themselves enough to ask for forgiveness for their sins. This is no surprise to Jesus, though, for He even said, that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”  -- (Matthew 19: 23. NASB)

But it isn’t just the rich who refuse to believe in Christ thus refusing God’s gift and invitation to enter the kingdom of God. For many poor people will also refuse to accept Christ as their Savior for various reasons including anger and pride. However all the reasons given by both the rich and the poor all boil down to one truthful reason which is their pride. This means that all their reasons actually stem from some type of personal pride.

It should be easy to come to know God and to understand that God has given us the greatest gift of all – an opportunity to have eternal life through repentance of our sins and belief on God's Son, Jesus Christ. Here again, though, many people refuse to even believe in God, let alone believe on the risen Son of God, which is really sad for them. But, if you have believed on Christ and have begun your new life in Christ, you know how great and wonderful Salvation truly is. However, receiving Salvation and a ticket to eternity in Heaven is not the end of the blessings that will come for the believer, nor is it the end of our learning and living for God. For, accepting God’s gift of Salvation is just the beginning of our learning about God. It is just the beginning of our spiritual journey. Moreover, part of that journey is to determine to learn how to be obedient to God and to learn how to rely on and trust in God and our Savior Jesus Christ. Indeed, with our Salvation we are just at the beginning, or at the starting point, of a new parallel journey of spiritual growth as we journey through this earthly life.

After we are “Saved” we should be ready to study God’s Word and ready to communicate daily with God in prayer through our intercessor, Christ Jesus, while trying to be obedient to God's directions and commandments. In other words, we are to serve God and Christ all the time. This means that we are to develop our own Christian service for the Lord like the service of Active Relational Christian Mentoring or some other godly service that can help people come to know Christ and then live fully for Him.

Some people, though, who have initially accepted God’s Salvation gift by repenting and believing on Christ, will still simply refuse to grow closer to God. For some reason they do not want to do the work of studying the Bible and learning about God and what He expects, or they simply refuse to put in the needed to time to communicate with God. Instead, they will gladly wander around in the desert of life, because it is easier to live in the spiritual desert of the secular world than it is to be different and live for God. Other people will just take a longer period of time to realize that part of their spiritual growth means learning to lean on God for all things in life, even if there are things in this earthly world that are frustrating and hurtful. Some people, however, actually think that they are working at spiritually maturing when in reality they are just going through the motions and are still trapped by the secular world and its temptations. But, no matter what we encounter in this life, we need to work at learning more and more about God and work at learning about the things that we can do to represent Christ to the world. This means all Christians need to reach out to others to share the Gospel message, and we need to learn to trust God for every situation and event that occurs in our life. In doing so, we can daily work at becoming more spiritually mature each day.

God will help us to grow spiritually as He will teach us how we can draw closer to Him and how we can be ever more obedient to Him, if we will just allow Him to lead us. Moreover, even when we are sure that we don’t need teaching, or when we think that we can simply live life our way, God will sometimes step in and show us just how powerful and loving that He is. Furthermore, if we listen carefully, God will often lead us in a direction that we never expected to go. In fact, God’s plans and ways of drawing us closer are sometimes not what we expect or what we would want if we were given a choice. However, we just need to remember that God has told us that His plans for us are for our best. In fact, God said, “For I know the plans that I have for you’… They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  -- (Jeremiah 29: 11. NLT).  Because God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient He can see and know things that we cannot possibly know or see. That is why God has told us that His plans and thoughts are quite different from ours. Indeed, God explained this concept to the prophet Isaiah when He said, “My thoughts are completely different from yours… and My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” – (Isaiah 55: 8. NLT). 

Several years ago my husband and I certainly found out that God’s plans for us could be quite different than the plans that we make for ourselves. Indeed, it was through a very specific desert experience that my husband and I found out just how totally different God’s plans and thoughts can be from ours. Moreover, we found out that our powerful and loving God can pull us through any situations or experiences that could, in the natural world, seem be disasters. Not only can God pull us through those desert experiences and disasters, but only God can pull us through them unscathed while helping us become more spiritually mature and obedient along the way.

When we go through desert experiences, we often do not understand at that time why we are experiencing them. We also often fail to understand how they happened or why they occurred. But, if we trust in our faithful and loving God even when we don't understand, we can be assured that we will be able to handle any situation and that we are not alone during the desert experience. Often, though, it is only in looking back at our desert experience with the eyes of hindsight and in understanding the overall process that God has brought us through, that we will finally be able to grasp or comprehend why we were in the desert in the first place. In our personal desert experience, my husband and I were finally able to look back and see the growth and maturity that had developed within each of us during that time, which was the result of the situation that God allowed to happen. We finally realized, too, that God wanted us to learn to more completely trust in and obey Him in everything.

A little later in this blog I will tell you a little more about our personal desert experience and what we learned from it. First, though, I want to tell you a story about the Israelites’ desert experience. I hope that the the story of the Israelite’s desert experience when combined with the story of our personal desert experience will somehow open your eyes to the truth of God’s love and to the truth that everyone needs to trust in our mighty and faithful God. Moreover, I hope that you will come to understand the importance of growing your faith and the importance of learning to live for God in all your ways.
The Exodus
Most people have heard the story of The Exodus, but have you ever wondered why the Israelites found themselves at the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s army hot on their trail? Well, the reason is that God had a plan. His plan was for “a future and a hope” for the Israelites and not to harm them. To better understand God's plan for their future, let’s review some of the scriptures that tell us about their exodus from Egypt. 

First you need to know that Moses wrote the first five books of the Older Testament, which also includes the book of Exodus. Moreover, out of all the Israelites, it was Moses and his brother Aaron whom God chose to be the ones to rescue the Israelites. But, along with the responsibility of the rescue Moses also had the responsibility of recording the actual events of the Exodus from Egypt. So, Moses starts the recording of these amazing events by first telling us how the Israelites had first arrived in Egypt hundreds of years before. Then Moses tells us why, after four hundred years, the Israelites finally called out to God for His help.

The small group of Israelites who had entered Egypt during Joseph’s time (See Genesis chapters 37, & 39-50 for the story of Joseph and his people in Egypt) had, over four hundred years later, grown into a very large number of people. Indeed, Moses was to be in charge of a very great multitude. In fact, the entire group of Israelites along with a great multitude of Egyptians and foreigners who came out of Egypt with them, comprised close to three million men, women and children. For God sent Moses to rescue over two million Israelites from their cruel slavery under their present Egyptian Pharaoh, but nearly another million Egyptians and other foreigners came along with them. So, Moses was to lead, direct, and guide, this extremely large group of people into the hands of their loving God and then into the Promised Land, leading all of them far away from the wrath of Pharaoh. Pharaoh, though, had already proved time and again that he did not keep his word, so even though he had finally said that they could leave Egypt, he might again renege on his word and not let them leave. So, when the time came to leave, these people had to hurriedly grab their things and march quickly out of Egypt.

To the rational and human mind, it would seem that the shortest route out of Egypt would be the best and quickest way to get away from Pharaoh. But, that was not the way that God would take the Israelites. In fact, Moses, through God’s direction, would lead the people the long way around and through the desert to get to the Promised Land. So, why did God send this great number of people the long way around and through the desert? Well, if we read carefully, Moses starts this part of the account of their exodus with the answer to our question of why the Israelites went the long way around. But, even when God doesn’t tell us immediately why He wants something done a particular way, we can rest assured that God always has the best and most productive reason for all His actions while keeping and protecting His children within the palms of His hands. Most of the time, we do not know until after the fact or in hindsight why God sends us a particular way. But, in this case, God told Moses why He chose this route. Moses then tells us why when he records the story of the Exodus.

Moses tells us, as recorded in the biblical scriptures, that: “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter.– (Exodus 13: 17. NIV). So, we learn that there was a shorter route that would have taken the Israelites directly to the Promised Land. But, if we keep reading, we also learn that the shorter route was even more dangerous to not only Israelite’s lives, but to their souls as well. For, “God said, ‘If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.– (Exodus 13: 17. NLT). Why was God concerned that the Israelites would go back to Egypt if they took the shorter route? Well, the shorter route would not only be a danger to their physical being but to their spiritual souls as well?

In order to understand why both their physical and spiritual lives would be in danger by going the shorter route, we need to understand something about the Philistines. You see, the Philistines were a vicious group of people who stole from those they encountered and who battled other people groups to enslave them and then use them to build up their own economic power. In encountering the Philistines, many of the Israelites could be killed or enslaved all over again. Furthermore, with the shorter route the Israelites could also be going from the frying pan into the fire, if they were again enslaved or if the Philistines caused them to be so afraid that they fled back into Egypt to again be enslaved and mistreated by Pharaoh. Worse still, if they went back to Egypt they would never get away from the Egyptian idol worship of false gods, and then they and future generations could succumb to the Egyptian belief in these false gods. This would mean that the Israelites would never come to know the One and Only True God or learn about God’s plan for the Deliverer, Jesus Christ, to come into the world to save them. So, they could not only lose their lives physically, but worse, lose their souls eternally.

The shorter route would mean that the Israelites could find themselves in a very bad situation, and God certainly did not rescue them to put them in an even worse situation.  Indeed, God had a much better plan that would allow the Israelites to see the power and glory of God expressed at the Red Sea. Moreover, the nations of the earth would always remember and know about God’s mighty love, power and faithfulness. For, it would be at the Red Sea that God would do something that was beyond the imaginings of any people. In taking them through the longer route to the Promised Land, God would not only save the Israelites from Pharaoh, but He would give them and the surrounding nations something to talk about for centuries to come while demonstrating His love, faithfulness and power. Furthermore, some of those who saw the power of God would be drawn to God, and many would then develop a closer relationship with Him. “So God led them along a route through the wilderness toward the Red Sea, and the Israelites left Egypt like a marching army.– (Exodus 13: 18. NLT).

We all know the true story of the Exodus. Just as it looked like the Israelites were trapped and at the mercy of the Pharaoh’s incoming army, God did an amazing and miraculous thing. He separated the waters of the Red Sea so that the people could march across the dry sea bed to the other shore. When the people got to the other side and saw that Pharaoh’s army was attempting to cross the dry sea bed as well, they were very concerned and frightened. But, then God let the waters of the sea flood back over the entire Egyptian army, killing everyone in Pharaoh’s army and Pharaoh as well. Those who weren’t in the army, but looking on, would tell the world of this miraculous event and the story would be told by many nations for centuries to come of this powerful and faithful God of the Israelites. What an all encompassing plan God had for the rescue of His people!

The Spiritual Desert

Being saved at the Red Sea, though, wasn’t the end of the Israelites problems. For, even though the Israelites had been saved from Pharaoh and his army, they would have to spend weeks traveling through the desert, which was the longer and harder road to travel with little water or food. But, God provided both water and food for the Israelites, just as He also protected them from their enemies. Then as they traveled the long way around, the Israelites had to learn to rely on God for everything in life.           Isn't that what all of us need to learn?  God is our provider. He is the One Who gives us what we need to survive. We just need to learn recognize and glorify God for Who He is and for what He has done for us. For without His love and mercy we would be doomed to eternity in Hell.

Yes, we know that God took them the longer and harder way to save them from battling the Philistines and from losing their souls, but couldn’t God have done an amazing miracle with the Philistine army as well? Yes, God can do anything. But this is where the Isaiah 55: 8 scripture comes in to help us understand why God chose to send the people through the Red Sea. In fact, we should all remember this scripture for it is here in the book of Isaiah that God tells us: “My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”  You see we serve and awesome and powerful God. Furthermore, we should not even begin to think that we know why God does what He does, nor should we question His ways. For, God’s ways are totally different from our human ways. However, in studying God’s Word, and in seeing how God has been there for His people and for His children time and time again, we can begin to understand that everything that God does is ultimately for our benefit and to bless us in the long run. But, along the way of wandering in the desert, God wants us to spiritually grow and mature. In doing so, He wants us to rely on Him, and He wants to teach us to put our faith and trust in Him no matter how dire the situation looks or no matter what kind of desert we find ourselves in.

Obviously, God used the Israelites’ harder road and their time in the desert to show them how they could trust and rely on Him. Our faithful God would not let them down. He had promised to get them out of Egypt safely, and God did just that. But, God also used the Israelite’s time in the desert to instruct them in His ways and to show them how much He loved them. Through Moses God gave the people His truth, and He told them how He expected them to live the right and godly way. They were then to pass down their new godly knowledge to future generations and other people groups.

As the Israelites and the foreigners traveled through the desert, God also gave Moses His commandments in order to teach the people not only how to get along with each other and how to stay healthy, but also how to honor, love, and obey Him. Throughout their time in the desert, God wanted the Israelites to learn to rely on Him, and to learn that God loves them and that He is always faithful and true to His Word. They then learned that lesson the hard way after they first refused to obey God and enter the Promised. For, they had to wander in the desert for an additional forty years.

God is faithful! That is the first thing the Israelites should have learned. For, the Israelites had cried out to God to be rescued from slavery, and God heard their cries. Then He sent Moses to rescue them. But in answering their cry, God was also calling them to follow Him, obey Him, and trust in Him. Obviously, they initially had to put their trust in God to save them from Pharaoh’s army, which He did with a miracle that only God could perform. But, the miraculous Red Sea event was not to be just a onetime trusting and “saving” experience. This event at the Red Sea, was to be a precursor to God’s plan for their and our Salvation that God offers to all who will believe on His Son, Jesus Christ. In fact, everything that God did for this large multitude of people while they were in the desert was meant to be an introduction to their coming Savior.

Unfortunately, the Israelites did not always see what God wanted them to see or learn what God wanted them to learn. Instead, they learned some of their lessons the hard way. For, when it came time to enter into the Promised Land, they allowed their fear and lack of trust in God and in God’s designated leader, Moses, to keep them from entering the Promised Land. Instead they believed the fearfulness of the scouts that reported on giants in the land. Even after God brought them through the desert wilderness while protecting them from every kind of enemy and always providing for their every need even as He showed them His, love, faithfulness and trust, they still refused to enter the Promised land out of fear and their human perception of a report of giants in the land (See Numbers chapters 13-14). 

It was at this point, after weeks of whining and tantrum throwing that God became really angry because of their lack of faith in Him. So, although the Israelites were at the entrance to the Promised Land, they had to turn around and wander forty years in the desert. It would be their children, or the next generation, who actually began to trust in God. Consequently, only their children, led by Joshua and Caleb, would be allowed to enter into the Promised Land. How many of you today have refused to trust in God? How many people today end up staying in the desert experiences of their lives, because they simply cannot trust in God or are not willing to listen to God?  How many others have refused to grow spiritually and have refused to totally live for Christ?

We humans sometimes refuse to see with our natural eyes, let alone see with our spiritual eyes. Rather, we often see what we want to see, or we simply ignore the truth of a situation by basing our sight on previous experiences and perceptions. But, when we refuse to see the truth when it is right in front of us or when we just can’t see because of the fog of our past perceptions and experiences, we often end up wandering around like the Israelites did for forty years; lost and trying to figure out why we have to be where we presently are. Sadly, most of those within the rescued multitudes would not mature spiritually or grow in their trust and faithfulness to God for years to come, if ever, because they either refused to see or were looking through their past perceptions. Consequently, the adult generation that was brought out of Egypt would die in the desert. Only a couple men from that generation, i.e. Joshua and Caleb, and some of the younger people whom they taught and led out of the desert would spiritually mature and be able to see with their spiritual eyes what God had been teaching them.

Certainly God had called this entire group of millions to follow Him.  But it would be during their desert experience that God would prepare the younger generation for their entrance into the Promised Land, through the lessons learned from their parents. For, even though God had taken them on the longer route and they ended up wandering forty more years in the desert, there were many things that all the Israelites learned along the way. The older generation had experienced hunger, thirst and enemies, but they would also be able to tell the younger generation how faithful God had been to them. They would be able to tell them about God’s protection from their enemies and God’s provision for their food and water. They would also be able to tell the younger generation, and even remind some of those who also experienced it when they were a child, about the faithfulness and love of God even in the face of their refusal to believe that God could protect them. But for those who had forgotten or had never faced the truth even after wandering in the wilderness for forty years, Moses again reminded all the people of what God had done for them and of the covenant they had made with God. He also reminded them what would happen if they broke that covenant.

Moses summoned all the Israelites and said to them, ‘You have seen with your own eyes everything that LORD did in Egypt to Pharaoh and all his servants and his whole country – all the great tests of strength, the miraculous signs, and the amazing wonders. … For forty years I led you through the wilderness, yet your clothes and sandals did not wear out. You had no bread or wine or other strong drink, but He gave you food so you would know that He is the LORD your God. … Therefore, obey the terms of this covenant so that you will prosper in everything you do. … The LORD made this covenant with you so that no man, woman, family, or tribe among you would turn away from the LORD our God to worship these gods of other nations, and so that no root among you would bear bitter and poisonous fruit. Let none of those who hear the warnings of this curse consider themselves immune, thinking, I am safe, even though I am walking in my own stubborn way. This would lead to ruin! The LORD will not pardon such people. …’” – (Deuteronomy 29: 2, 3, 5, 6, 9, 18 – 20. NLT).

Through each of their trials and even later in their desert wanderings God wanted the Israelites to rely on Him and to trust that He would take care of them. The Israelites needed to learn that God is always faithful and can always be trusted. Moreover, God promised to bless the Israelites by making them the nation through whom the rest of the world could come to know God and their Savior, Jesus Christ. However, in return, the Israelites were to promise to love and obey God so that they could receive both the physical and spiritual blessings that God had promised them. God would always keep His part of the Covenant, but would the Israelites keep their part? Unfortunately, the Israelites were already neglecting to keep their part of the covenant, which would ultimately bring severe discipline.

The Israelites needed to learn that God would always take care of them, if they just trusted in and obeyed Him. They also needed to learn how to grow closer to God so that during the difficult times they could turn to Him. But, we are no different today than the Israelites back then. Just as they failed to notice God’s care and provision, we also fail to notice God’s care and provision for our lives too. But it is during a desert experiences in our lives that we need to put our complete faith in God and rely on and trust in God for our provision and care as well. Sadly, instead of relying on God and maturing spiritually, many people will think that they are the ones who actually got themselves out of the desert experience. They fail to recognize their true provider and the One and only God. Let me assure them and you, though, that they or you would still be in that desert experience if it were not for God. For, God is the One who has pulled them or you through that experience. But it is up to us to recognize God and His help. It is up to us to grow from our desert experience and to learn to trust God for all our needs. Then it up to us to give God the glory and praise for what He has done for us.

God is faithful! We can trust Him completely! But, we have to be willing to grow and mature. We have to be willing to accept the hardships of life while knowing that if we are faithful to God that He will never forsake us. God will bring us through all our desert experiences. Although, we may never find ourselves in a position like the one that the Israelites faced at the Red Sea or the positions they later found themselves in as they wandered around desert, we can find ourselves in situations that only our God can get us through. But, even then we have to be willing to learn from our desert experiences so that we do not have to stay in the desert any longer than necessary for additional spiritual growth.

 Sometimes, too, we need to realize that God takes us on the harder and longer road to teach us what we need to learn from going the long way around. You see, God wants all of His children to spiritually mature and to put their complete faith and trust in Him. But sometimes, we have to be put in a desert in order to fully understand what God wants us to learn. However, you should always remember that even if you find yourself in a desert, that God has plans to give you a way out, if you will just trust in Him. He has plans for "a future and a hope" for you. We simply cannot let the difficulties of life keep us from seeing God’s direction and purpose for our lives, or keep us from growing spiritually closer to God.

Our Desert Experience.

Back in 2007 and 2008 my husband and I found ourselves in a desert experience. It was during this time period that we learned that God’s timing is always right and true and that we need to always trust in His plans for our lives even when we can’t see the outcome or a way out of the desert. We also learned that it is up to us to patiently wait for God to show us what we are to do. We learned, too, that we cannot rush God’s timing. For, He has a plan for our “future and a hope” that is all in His timing. More importantly, we learned that even when we don’t know which way to turn or which path to take, that if we put our faith in God and our trust in His ways and timing, that things will work out and all will happen for the glory of God.

Although it sounds unreal, our desert experience all started with a customer’s mental instability and his rambling words that the others took to heart as the truth. A false perception can create a lie. In this case, human perception based on previous personal experiences created a false assumption or lie. But in looking back at the situation, we realize that only God could have used a man’s mental instability to get a happily contented couple that had been in one town for nearly 28 years to pull up our roots and move to another state. Suddenly our lives were turned upside down, and we found that we needed to move so that my husband could take a job in another state.

In going through this sudden upheaval, it was like the stars had aligned in some obscure arrangement to create an irrational catalyst for this coming desert experience. The irrational catalyst was a man’s mental instability, combined with the beginning of the sudden downturn in our nation’s economy. But, this catalyst and the downturn of the economy also aligned with a great offer from a businessman acquaintance of my husband’s; an offer to come to work in Indianapolis, Indiana for nearly the same salary and benefits package as the one that my husband had. But all these things coming together was not some weird star alignment, for God had activated His personal plan for our lives. God had a plan for us that required a desert experience in order for us to learn that God will never forsake us (See Hebrews 13: 5b). For, God had plans for our spiritual growth and maturity even as He prepared a future job in the Ozarks of Missouri for my husband.

Now, my husband and I had never been further than four hours from our extended family or from where we grew up in the Ozarks. But, our son was now an adult and on his own, so there was nothing keeping us from making this move. In fact, we both trusted in God that it was the right thing to do. So, after praying about it, we put our house on the market and lo and behold it sold in just fourteen days. This was not surprising to us, but it was surprising to many others, including our neighbors who said that the house wouldn’t sell, because the housing market was going into a steep decline in late 2007 and early 2008. But, our house sold quickly for what we had asked. We weren’t surprised, though, for God was shutting doors and opening new ones and we were trusting in Him.

Before making the commitment to move to Indiana, we made a couple of trips to Indianapolis to see if we liked the area. We also searched for and found a home that was just perfect for us. Then, we decided to go ahead and buy the house since my husband had received a firm five-year contract with this new company. This contract helped to assure us that we were making the right decision in buying a house there in the Indianapolis area and that we wouldn’t suddenly need to move again for at least five years. The only catch was that my husband would have to go on ahead of me and start the new job. He would go ahead and move into our new house in Indiana, while I stayed behind to finalize the sale of our present home and pack up the house for the movers. Even though it was a little over a month before I could get to Indianapolis with the furniture, everything went smoothly with the packing and moving. However, it was the longest period of time I had ever spent away from my husband, and we really missed each other. But, we were trusting in God that this was what He wanted us to do. Indeed, it was exactly what God wanted us to do, but for a totally different reason than the one that we thought He had in mind for us.

For several years my husband had known the owner of company for which he was now going to work. Although the owner was just an acquaintance friend, he had stayed overnight at our home a couple of times when he was on one of his trips into Missouri on business. So, we felt that we knew him a little better than other working acquaintances of my husband’s. Moreover, for years this man had tried to get my husband to come to work for him. So, we weren’t surprised that when he found out that my husband was changing jobs that he would offer my husband a job. In fact, he offered my husband the position of vice president in his company. So, early on in my husband’s job search, the owner of this company paid to fly us to Indianapolis, and then he and his wife “wined and dined” us, as the old saying goes, trying to get my husband to take the job. This man and his wife really seemed to want my husband to come work for their company there in Indiana. But they also knew that it was a decision that both Gary and I needed to make, so they showed both of us the area and the advantages of accepting this position.

After discussing it and praying about it, both of us believed that this was the position that God wanted my husband to take. We were right that God wanted us to move to Indianapolis, but God just had a different reason than the one that we thought He had. So, in believing that this was where we were supposed to go there, my husband accepted the offer and we made plans to move to Indiana. The owner of the company seemed very excited and happy to have my husband as the new vice president of his company. However, when my husband arrived at the company to start work there on January 2nd, he found that the owner and his wife had left on vacation, and there was no one there to introduce him to the staff or to show him to his office. He was on his own without any suggestions or instructions.

It would be nearly two weeks before the owner of the company was back at the business. That was the first red flag that something was wrong. Then, things went downhill from there. What was supposed to have been an upper management position as vice president had, when the owner returned from vacation, suddenly become a multitude or conglomerate of various positions, including but not limited to the following: a data input position, a sales position, and whatever else that needed to be done. Certainly, as a long time upper management officer or vice president in other companies, my husband had no skills as a data input specialist. So, he was now spending long hours learning how things needed to be input and working long hours into the night to get the job done. This was the second red flag.

Every time I talked to my husband on the phone long distance, I heard more and more disappointment in his voice. At first I thought that his disappointment had something to do with us being separated for so long, as we had never been separated from each other for that amount of time since we had been married. But then I began to suspect that all was not well at the job. To make matters worse, my husband knew that I was excited to come live in and decorate this new house that we had just bought, and he didn’t want to rain on my parade by telling me negative things that were happening to him. I am sure he felt trapped in the job. But, my husband is not a quitter and was determined to make this job work at least for the next five years.

Finally, the furniture and I arrived over a month later. My husband had been living in the new house with only one chair and a couple of boxes for end tables and a bed that he had brought with him in his pick-up truck. That was all that was in the house until our furniture arrived. He had really been roughing it. We were very excited to see each other, but I could tell that something was on his mind. When he finally confided in me as to what had been going on with this company, I was in shock. But he assured me that he was determined to make this job work, even though he was daily disappointed and hurt by how he was being treated by this “so-called” friend. So, while he went to work, I started un-packing all the boxes, which gave me something to do during the day.

We now needed to find a church home. One of the churches that we had previously attended while on one of our trips to look for a home in Indiana, was the church that the owner of the company and his wife attended. They had invited us to their church and we gone with them while visiting in town. So, on the following Sunday after I arrived in Indiana, we decided to go back to their church. But, when we arrived, I got a strange feeling from the owner and his wife. They were not as friendly as before, and the owner of the company would not look me in the eyes. Something was up.

The following week, as I was still unpacking and putting things away, my husband came home in the middle of the day and told me to quit unpacking. He said we were going back to Missouri. I was in shock, but it seems that even though Gary had a five-year contract, that the owner of the company was having financial problems and that the contract was not worth the paper that it was printed on. Then, about two weeks later, my husband was officially without a job.

Here we were in Indiana, with no relatives or friends, and no income coming in. What were we going to do?  Well, we prayed! Then both of us trusted in the Lord to take care of us. We read the Bible daily. We spent time in prayer together and separately. We also supported each other, and when one of us started to get a little down, the other would remind the other one that God said He would not forsake us, “… for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.’” – (Hebrews 13: 5b. NASB).

So, while my husband searched for a job and sent out hundreds of resumes, I repacked our boxes with the things that we were going to keep; separating them from the things that we would not be able to keep.  For, if we needed to move from Indiana, we probably would not have a company to move us like the one my husband had worked for only eight weeks. That is because this company had originally paid over $10,000 dollars to move us to Indianapolis. However, with the way the economy was going, most job offers would not come with a promise to pay for our move. So, if my husband got a job offer, we would probably have to pay for the move, and we were broke. Obviously, the only way we could stay in Indianapolis was for my husband to get a job offer there. Otherwise, we would be on our own for the moving expenses when we moved back to Missouri. At every turn, we saw more and more expenses for which there was no money. But somehow or other we always had enough money to make ends meet.

Later, when my husband finally got a job in Missouri, we sold many of our household items and even gave away much of our furniture to the City Union Mission and to some of our more needy church members just so that we could help them out and at the same time not have to pay to move additional items furniture. This time the cost of our move would be paid by us, and the cost would be calculated in the size of the U-haul truck that would be needed to move the items we had to keep.

Throughout all this ordeal, though, both of us kept our faith in God and trusted in the fact that God said He would not let us down. Indeed, God did not let us down. For, somehow or other, we always had the money that we needed to make ends meet. Even though we were in a desert experience we later discovered that God had not only been preparing a job for my husband, but He had also had been preparing my husband to accept the perfect job for him at that time. Moreover, God had prepared this job or position for just the right time so that we could be right where the Lord wanted us to be.

In the meantime, we put our new home up for sale by owner in a town whose real estate agents shunned those who tried to sell their own homes. But, here again, God provided. Although it took six months to sell the house, we or I should say, God got it sold just in the nick of time for us.

Little did we know that when we moved to Indiana, that the move would just be a temporary move, because God really planned for us to be in south central Missouri. To get us to south central Missouri, though, God had to prepare the way for the job opening and then prepare a way for my husband to get the interview for the job opening. In the meantime, though, God wanted to spiritually grow and mature us. He knew that we needed to be broken and humbled before Him in order to serve Him with all our heart. In the process, God also prepared my husband both mentally and emotionally to be able to accept a job for nearly half of what he had been making the last ten years. For, my husband would need to basically start all over again and gradually build back up to the salary that he had been previously receiving, if that was even possible. That was a very humbling experience for a man who had already climbed the ladder of success. Nevertheless, God has a way of not only humbling a man, but also of helping a Christian man come to terms with what God wants him to do.

We spent nearly seven months in a desert experience. However, all the preparation in our desert time in Indiana grew both of us spiritually. We found that God was there for us daily giving us the strength we needed to keep our eyes focused on Him. We learned to rely on God for everything including the food we ate and the money we needed to survive. Throughout this desert experience we learned that God provides for those who love, obey, and live for Him.  We also learned to wait on the Lord. For, we waited nearly seven months for our house to sell when houses weren’t selling, and nearly five months for a new career opportunity when jobs were hard to find. But, in our waiting we also learned that God takes care of His children. In fact, the following Psalm is one that resonated in our hearts during our daily Bible reading.

In the LORD my God, I put my trust.
I trust in You; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one who hopes in You will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.
Show me Your ways, LORD, teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. …
Good and upright is the LORD; therefore, He instructs sinners in His ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way.  All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of His covenant. For the sake of your name, LORD, forgive my iniquity, though it is great.
Who then are those who fear the LORD? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose. They will spend their days in prosperity, and their descendants will inherit the land. The Lord confides in those who fear Him; He makes His covenant known to them. My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only He will release my feet from the snare.”  -- (Psalm 25: 1-5, 8-15. NIV).

During our wait, we grew in trust and faith. We also learned not to harbor hate or vengeance for the man who enticed us to Indiana. He had to know that his business was not doing well. He had to know that it was an “iffy” situation to put his friend acquaintance in. So, why did he not only lie about the actual vice president position or the viability of his company when directly asked. Did he just have his head in the sand and refuse to acknowledge the down turn in the economy and his business, or did he deliberately get us to make that kind of move for some other reason. We will never know, but God knows. Moreover, God knew even before we moved to Indiana. In fact, I believe that God wanted us in a desert experience so that we would learn to totally rely on and trust Him for everything, which is exactly what we did. We also trusted the Lord that in our wait, we would grow ever closer to Him and our Savior, Jesus Christ, which is exactly what we did.

Just like the Israelites who had to wait forty years for their children to enter the Promised Land, my husband and I had to wait to come back home and receive a job. We had to wait on a job that was not yet ready for my husband. We had to wait on the perfect job interview opportunity, and we had to wait on God so that we could come to learn to completely trust in Him for all the things that we needed and so much more.

 Although in our English vocabulary the word “wait” often means that we are at a standstill until some action can take place, the wait that the Psalmist refers to is an action word. For, when we wait on the Lord, we are putting our active trust in Him to do what He wants for our lives. We are waiting for the Lord to act. The waiting that the Psalmist refers to in the above scripture is also waiting that looks forward and not backward. It is an active and action waiting that gives us hope and anticipation. For, when we are waiting on the Lord, we are expecting good things to happen, if we are willing to put our complete trust in Him and if we are willing to be obedient to His calling. Our waiting paid off in so many ways, and yours will too, if you trust in and obey God.

In August of 2008 my husband finally took a job in the Ozarks of Missouri after he had heard through a friend that a job was becoming available. God was behind the scenes working for us, because the job opening hadn’t even been posted yet. But, God had it ready for my husband the minute that it became available. Moreover, my husband had been prepared to humble himself to take a much lower paying job initially in order to again move up the career ladder. But, this time, my husband would have a true Christian as his boss. Moreover, he would be able to express his Christianity daily and be able to share the Gospel with certain customers who asked for his help in getting them back on some type of financial footing again.  Time and again my husband has been able to share his faith, knowledge and the financial wisdom that he received from our time in the desert.

Over the last eight years as manager, my husband has built up his branch of the financial institution into a viable and successful branch. He also became active in the community and has had a great influence for Christ on both the community and the members of the financial institution. Throughout our eight years in this community both of us have also been involved in our church. We have worked as small group coordinators and leaders, and we presently team teach a Sunday school class with another couple. I have also consistently held a weekly Bible Study in our home for those who were having a hard time and for those who just wanted to learn more about the Word of God. During our last eight years in Missouri I have also penned a book for the Lord on Active Relational Christian Mentoring which will be out in book stores shortly. Together and separately, my husband and I have tried to always obey God and to shine our Christ light for others to see. We have waited on the Lord, and both of us have mentored people who needed to hear a Christian voice speaking into their lives or who needed help for some specific area of their lives. My husband’s mentoring has been more in the financial area with Christ at the center, whereas mine has been more of a teacher mentor to other Christian ladies with Christ at the center.

Our time in this part of the Missouri Ozarks has been a very rewarding experience. But, most of all we have tried to live our lives in such a way that others can see Christ in us. We have chosen to have faith and trust in God, and He has never let us down. He has never forsaken us and He never will. Moreover, no matter how long your desert experience is just remember that this desert time is a time to help you grow closer to the Lord. It is a time to humble yourself and to ask God what it is that you can do for Him.

Perhaps you are already doing something for the Lord, but that doesn’t mean that the Lord doesn’t have something else for you to do as well. Sometimes, God will show you your greatest path to travel, or He may even take you the long way around instead of sending you down the shortest path. Furthermore, God may not tell you how far you have to travel down that path to get to your destination so that you have to completely rely on Him. But there is one thing certain: God has specific plans for each of His children. Plans to give them a “future and a hope”. He also will not take you into a desert experience without having a way for you to leave the desert once you have given your complete trust to Him and put your entire faith in Him.

Perhaps God is preparing you to become an Active Relational Christian Mentor. Perhaps He is sending you to a new area to meet someone that He knows you will be able to help. Or perhaps God has taken you the longer route to save you from enemies and to save your spiritual soul. Whatever route you are on, rest assured that God has a plan for your life, and it is a good plan. You just need to make sure that your plans match up with God’s plans by waiting on the Lord, by studying the Word, by praying, and then by listening for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and direction for your life. God can also prepare other people at the exact same time He is preparing you, and we never know who we will meet that God has prepared to hear just what we have to say about Him while living for Christ.

Just remember that you have been given a specific purpose in this life beyond your purpose of glorifying and honoring God. Your purpose is to “love others as yourself” and to do the work that God has prepared or is preparing you to do. If you don’t know what your specific purpose is, pray and faithfully ask God to show you and He will.

You can do it! You can serve the Lord and live for Him!

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