Eternally With You
We’ve talked at great length about the wilderness being a place where we feel as though God is no longer interested or active in our wait. As far as we can tell, He’s abandoned us. That’s just not true. Take this to the bank and deposit it for safekeeping: God is always present with you.
This characteristic of God is defined as being omnipresent. It’s a big Bible word we can add to our vocabulary and retrieve when abandonment issues tiptoe into our thought life. Turn the corner of this page down and put a large star by this sentence: Omnipresent means always present; everywhere at the same time. Now, when you feel abandoned, remember to come back here and remind yourself that God is constantly, forever, eternally with you.
He is never not with me. He is never not with you. (English majors and grammar police, please don’t email me about the double negatives.) He is next to us in our wilderness, even if we don’t see Him at work. Whoa! I just blew my own mind.
Even though we feel abandoned by God, we aren’t. God didn’t abandon Abraham and Sarah. God didn’t abandon the Israelites. God has not and will not abandon you. Try singing these words to the tune of “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know”: “God is with me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Though His presence I can’t see, God will not abandon me. Yes, God is with me. Yes, God is with me. Yes, God is with me. The Bible tells me so.”
God didn’t abandon David. He roamed in and out of caves and strongholds. He dodged arrows at the dinner table and fled from the king’s army. For over fifteen years, he wandered and waited for his appointing. But David’s wait did come to an end.
We know we’re waiting well when we truly experience peace in God’s pauses and plans. The peace is demonstrated in the resting of our thoughts and actions. Our real focus becomes a deep and abiding relationship with the Person of our faith, rather than manipulating our circumstances to receive the object of our wait. David waited well by focusing on God, not the problems, the people, or the palace.
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Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
Isaiah 41:10 KJV
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39 KJV
Pauses are places meant to strengthen our resolve, not weaken our faith. The Israelites chose to thoughtlessly throw the plunder from Egypt into the fire to make a false god rather than show their allegiance to God. For those of us on this side of Mt. Sinai, it’s easy to point a judgmental finger at the Israelites. But if we’re honest, we have a little bit of Abraham, Sarah, and the Israelites hidden within our hurried heart. I know I’m guilty.
For a while, publishing a book was my idol. Nausea sweeps over me even now as I confess this to you. As my sisters in ministry were getting their books published, I whined and my faith waned. Envy consumed me. Why can’t that be me, Lord? She hasn’t been serving You as long as I have, and now she is releasing her second book. It wasn’t pretty. Then one day I decided Iwas going to write a book.
I informed my family of the changes that would be necessary in order for me to write said book: fewer homemade meals, more chores for them, and less time with me. I threw my family to the wolves, and I threw my words in the fire and crafted an idol in the shape of a book. Tears rim my eyes as I type these words. Instead of strengthening my faith by tending to the sheep in my pasture and working out my salvation, I forged my idol.
Thankfully, before I lost all control, a friend had the courage to speak truth into my heart. “Wendy,” she said, “your writing isn’t that good, and it really needs a lot of work.” Honesty hurts, folks. These words wrapped around my heart like the tentacles of a jellyfish attached to its prey.
I felt the sting of my friend’s words. But after some time, I realized she was right and I allowed God to heal me. I laid down my idol and thanked God for a friend who loved me enough to speak truth. My writing wasn’t ready to be published, and my heart wasn’t ready to receive such a blessing. The pause was my protection.
I joyously resumed my position in my pasture of motherhood. When my daughter called from her room, “Mom, can you make me a ‘grilla’ cheese sandwich?” (a mispronounced word from her childhood), I responded, “Yes. You want it cut into triangles?” I had the time to make it because I wasn’t bowing at the altar of my idol. My husband didn’t have to ask if his underwear had gotten lost in the laundry, and watching shows about construction with my son no longer felt like an imposition.
Day in and day out, God demonstrates His mercy, power, and provision, yet in the pause it is easy to forget His faithfulness. We become impatient and try to rush the wait especially when life hangs in the balance or our funds have run dry. We often can’t wrap our head or heart around God’s timing or ways. When our pause seems more like a wilderness, we must be determined to strengthen our faith by trusting His timing. Cling to His peace, and remember—God has a history of working miracles.
The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; They have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths.
Psalms 135:15-17 KJV
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Hebrews 13:5 KJV
The psalmist’s words became my personal prayer. Help me stay planted by the streams of Your water, God. Keep me from wickedness. Help me meditate on Your law day and night. Oh, how I longed to delight in God rather than wallow with Discouragement.
Every day started in His Word. Most days I didn’t understand what I read, but I believed in God’s faithfulness, and I noticed how Bible verses started to repeat in my head more than Discouragement’s voice. Determined to stay refreshed by God’s Word, like a tree planted by streams of water, I started to keep a Bible always within arm’s reach: in the car, beside my bed, on the end table by the couch, in the kitchen.
At one point, I had verses taped on nearly every doorframe in my house. I’m not sharing this to make myself sound super spiritual. I’m sharing this to show how desperate I was to defeat Discouragement, Negativity, and Rejection.
My victory has taken years to realize. The battle has been slow, but every time I read and meditate on Scripture, I gain ground. Every now and then, Discouragement sets a trap; however, with God’s wisdom, I am able to avoid it. I shout my victory chant, “No weapon formed against me will prosper.” The bullies flee. I praise. Why don’t you shout the victory chant aloud right now? Go ahead. I’ll wait.
David dealt with criticism from his wife and negativity from his brothers, but he didn’t allow Discouragement to defeat him. He stayed close to God, and he cried out every time he needed help. We are blessed to be able to cry out to God for help and search His Word for inspiration.
Sometimes the totality and enormity of God’s Word can be overwhelming. Have you ever felt this way? You know encouragement will come from Scripture, but when you open the Bible, you don’t know how to find the encouragement that awaits. When I have this feeling, I create my own mini-Bible.
Using my Bible’s concordance, I look up a word that has something to do with my current state of mind and circumstances. For example, if I am feeling rejected, I find the word love and look up verses about God’s love. Then, in a small spiral-bound notebook, I record every verse that lifts my heart. This mini-Bible becomes my go-to place for quick encouragement.
God was faithful to David. God will be faithful to you and me as well.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 KJV
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
Joshua 1:9 KJV
Go Deeper In Worship… Pray this prayer at https://abide.is/sharing/9tNdbuirIus8Q9wu