By Andrea Lennon, Evangelism and Church Health Team
All of us have seasons of life we view as wasted years. If you don't, hang on. It will happen. We experience these seasons for different reasons. Sometimes we are running from God. Other times we are relying on our own abilities. Then, there are times when we simply don't care about God or His plan. No matter what lands us in a difficult season, we don't have to stay in that place. God is a redeeming God. He brings meaning out of the messes we create!
The children of Israel knew about living during a difficult season of life. They were enslaved in Egypt and forced to do hard labor. God called Moses to return to Egypt and boldly approach Pharaoh with this simple message, "Let my people go!" After some convincing, Pharaoh complied.
God had a special plan for the Israelites, and it was a good plan. They were His chosen people. When other nations looked at Israel, it was God's desire for those nations to see the difference God's presence made in the Israelites’ lives.
Many years before the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt, God promised Abraham his descendants would inherit the Promised Land. This land was designed to be a place of rest. It was an incredible piece of land, flowing with milk and honey.
The plan was simple. The Israelites would leave Egypt under Moses' leadership. They would travel through the desert, and along the way God would teach them how to live as a nation. Twelve spies would go into the Promised Land with the instruction to survey the greatness of the land. Here is an important point: the land was already theirs. They didn't have to earn it or buy it, and they certainly didn't deserve it. That's the thing about the "land" God has for us. It is an amazing grace gift from Him.
Unfortunately, the wheels came off the bus. When the twelve spies went into the Promised Land, they judged the land based on THEIR ability to possess it rather than on GOD'S ability to provide it. This led to big trouble in the Israelite camp. The outcome was forty more years of wandering in the desert. As a result, the Israelites knew about wasted years.
I admit I can relate personally to the Israelites’ story. The desert-wandering I have done has resulted from the same equation. I always end up in a spiritual desert when I judge God's plan based on MY ability to possess it rather than on GOD'S ability to provide it. When I do this, I take my eyes off the Lord and put my eyes on myself.
The good news is this: God is a redeeming God! The original generation died in the desert and God raised up a new generation to enter the Promised Land. God was faithful to teach the Israelites every step of the way.
We can be assured the same principal applies today. God is faithful! He forgives our sins! In the process, He uses our desert wandering experiences to teach us lessons that refine us. He reminds us we are His and His plan is good. In the end, He sets us back on the path He created for us. I, for one, can testify to the truth we cannot out run the grace of God. Believe me. I tried.
How about you? Are you in a difficult season of life that is a result of your bad choices? If so, take heart! God has a plan. He loves you. Right now you can take an important step. You can be honest with yourself and with God. Confess your need for Jesus and ask God to lead you every step of the way. Then, look for ways to get back on track.
* If you need to confess something, confess it.
* If you need to make restitution, make restitution.
* If you need to ask forgiveness, ask forgiveness.
* If you need to accept responsibility, accept responsibility.
* If you need to let something go, let it go.
* If you need to get help, get help.
* If you need to share a secret from your past with a trusted friend, share it.
* If you need to step out in faith and obey God's call, step out!
Isaiah 26:3 says, “God will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in Him.” When we trust in God and His plan for our lives, we experience His redemption. God wants it all -the good, the bad, and the ugly! God wants it all. I truly believe the place of surrender to God and His plan is the best place we can be!
Andrea Lennon serves as the Women’s Ministry Specialist at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.