How does God get your attention on your spiritual journey? Often you pay attention to pain, don’t you? Biblical counselor and teacher Donna Hart, PhD, shares encouragement in this post that first appeared on her blog.
It is likened to the spiritual bondage we face until we find freedom in Christ. We take this journey as individuals and also together as the people of God. It can literally be seen as the metaphor for the whole journey from salvation to resting in our true home in heaven, or a time when God is calling us to greater freedom in a particular area of our life, or a time when God is calling us to leave familiar territory behind so that we can enter into something new.
“From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded.” Exodus 17:1
Often in this journey we become aware that things are not right. Awareness calls us to take responsibility for responding to what we are seeing. Most of us avoid awareness as long as we can, until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing. And in that place, we are ripe for making a move. The emotions we feel in response to what we have seen might be volatile during this time, but they serve a good purpose; they give us the energy and resolve to begin preparing to move in a new direction. Awareness opens us to the possibility of living life in a new way.
In this place it is useful to have people around us who can help us see what is real about our current situation, but we also need people to assure us that there is another way, and that it is possible for us to move in that direction, risky as it might be. We begin to give up our resistance to God and surrender to Him as He gives us a vision for what it would be like to say yes to the spiritual journey.
When Things Get Worse
But things often get worse before they get better. While the Israelites’ awareness was growing, the circumstances causing their suffering got worse. Life for the Israelites in Egypt grew dim as they were required to make bricks without straw, and were brutally beaten when they weren’t able to keep up with the quotas. Like them, the deterioration of our situation might seem like an unnecessary piece of the journey, but it is actually an important part of the process because it brings us to a turning point where we are willing to do something about our situation. We can say it is the straw that breaks the camel’s back; it can push us over the edge; and after that, nothing can be the same.
Like the Israelites, we might find it hard to listen to the voice of hope in the midst of the journey “because of [our] broken spirit [our] cruel slavery,” (Exodus 6:9). But we’re not alone in that struggle.
Moses went through this too as he led the Israelites out of Egypt, the people were no longer listening to him, and he took it personally. It confirmed his worst fears about being a poor and ineffective leader. He even had an “I told you so” moment with God: “The Israelites have not listened to me; how then shall Pharaoh listen to me, poor speaker that I am?” (Exodus 6:12).
But God Comes Breaks Through
That was God’s moment to come through for Moses, and He did! He does it with us too, through signs and wonders that free us for the journey that is ahead. It is as Leonard Cohen said, “It is good to be between a ruined house of bondage and a holy promised land.” When all things seem lost God is right in there with us, ministering to us with His faithful love, letting us know as we lean into Him, He will be with us every step of the way. Start looking for a glimmer of the promised land that is over the hill, in all the little ways that God is blessing you.
Are you between the house of bondage and the promised land?
Know God comes through with signs and wonders getting you free for the journey ahead. May we be excited for the Lord has for us.
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