"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Field of Your Choosing

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At the new year, I felt strongly that God was inviting me into a journey through the Old Testament.  It has been a long time since I felt His leading this clearly regarding a place in Scripture to read.  If I am honest, I haven't been a big fan of portions of the Old Testament.  It can be a confusing place for me. Often, I seem to be missing something.  ...missing God, misunderstanding God, and His true character.  This invitation was a bit daunting and exciting at the same time.

I am very, very, very slowly making my way through and it truly has been a sweet experience.  My goal is to converse with God as we walk through the Old Testament together.  We have had some great---delightful and difficult--- conversations!  I ask "why?" and tell Him, "I really don't get this!" on a regular basis.  I ask Him to please tell me more.  I also find myself in awe at the revelation of His beautiful character.  I am not missing God this time around!!  

In this slow walk, I often read a section twice or three (or six) times.  We settle down and talk about a section for a while before we move on, sometimes a day later---or even after weeks on end. Yesterday, I was reading the first part of Exodus 17:1-7.  This is when God gives His thirsty people water from a rock.  Water from a rock...  Just think about that! Amazing!  I was struck by God's faithfulness to His people over and over.  They are in bondage--- He delivers.  They are in danger---He destroys their foes.  They are hungry---He feeds.  They are lost--- He leads.  They are thirsty--- He gives them water to drink (multiple times!).  I spent the remainder of my time yesterday praising His compassion, faithful love, and generosity.  

Today, as I sat down, I wondered if we should walk-on from here.  Nah... let's read it again.  
I read the same passage and new words jumped off the page.  I hadn't even noticed them yesterday:

"traveling from place to place, as the Lord commanded" (17:1)  God was leading the Israelites every step-of-the-way.  

I immediately thought:  You brought them to a place that had no water!  No water.  On purpose? What!? With feelings lingering close to indignation, yet mixed with amusement, I asked:  Why, Lord? What is this about?  Why would You lead them to a place with no water?  

The phrase which came to my mind after I asked this question was jarring:  The Lord is my Shepherd.

In recent years, this phrase has become a touch-stone for me: sweet words of comfort.  Words given by God as a gift of peace and a way back to joy. Through years of chronic pain, multiple moves, food allergies, and strange physical symptoms God has reminded me that I can trust Him to lead me exactly to the right field at the right time.  He owns me and loves me and will walk me, leading, every step of the way.  I don't have to worry... I can just watch my Shepherd and follow.  He knows.  He cares.  I can trust.  

Last night, in the midst of a bout of sleeplessness, I found myself utterly frustrated---even angry.  I didn't know who I was angry with---I was just angry.  Lack of sleep can do that to ya...  right?!  Similar to the Israelites in Exodus 17, I just wanted to complain and grumble:  Why am I even in this bed, tonight?  Did I come here, to this bed, to die of sleep deprivation? To toss and turn and rot?  

In the midst of tossing and turning, I remembered the comforting phrase and it truly brought calm and trust... the Lord is my Shepherd.  You are my Shepherd, God!  Within these words live a myriad of lessons.  I can believe that if this 'insomnia field' is the field He has brought me--- then, in this very field...  I will go, I can walk. I can lie down and trust Him.  He knows me.  He knows what I need.  His wisdom is pure and it sits on a foundation of love.  

Plain and simple, God does indeed bring His people... time-and-time-again... to places where there is no water to drink.   He leads them into battles.  Desert lands.  Foggy fields.  Dark places.  Will I now hear the invitation to watch and wait for Him to quench my thirst?  Will I expect water from a rock and manna from heaven? And, can I trust Him when I am left in the dungeon like Joseph for years on end?  

I walk with you in this field, the field of Your choosing, my good Shepherd.  

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