My husband and I have been running hard after the things of God. We have been plowing in prayer, laboring in love, and pouring out anointed teachings. It sounds easy enough for those who are called to the work of the ministry, but when our labors turn from Holy Spirit energized to physical energy, one can get tired quickly. We decided it was time for a long sabbatical. On the first day “off,” I immediately felt a burden lift from my shoulders and was certain that God had called us to a place of rest, so we left our home state of Arizona and ventured toward Oregon to see my husband's family.
As we started to leave a crew showed up to repair a sinkhole in front of our driveway, and it looked like we may not be able to get out. However, we were able to get the RV out, so I took it as another clue that getting out of town for a couple of weeks was just what the Doctor ordered. We made it as far as Kingman, about a three-hour drive, when we pulled over to give our dogs a rest and discovered we had a leak in our RV whereby several gallons of water was released through the kitchen faucet! We forgot to turn the water pump off, which pressurized the system, and the rough road jarred the faucet open. Or perhaps a demonic gremlin opened the faucet! We could have, and maybe should have turned back and gone “home,” but we cleaned it up and discovered out of the seventy gallons that leaked out, only a little more than a third of that water made it to the floor, and the rest miraculously went into the holding tanks. We took this as another sign that God wanted us to keep going – and so we did.
However, our beautiful weather quickly turned to rain, sleet, and snow, and we spent the next twelve days in the RV with little adventure time. For those who don’t know, Arizona is a desert, and we do not get much rain, let alone snow, in the area we live, so the weather was a deterrent for these desert folks!
I kept seeking the Lord for His voice and direction on everything we were doing but heard nothing. All was silent except “rest.” Kind of funny to think of rest when all our plans seemed to be going south! It seemed like something was trying to sabotage our sabbatical, and God was not one iota concerned. Of course, the enemy would love for us to believe that God had sent us on a wild goose chase and abandoned us! However, as a child of God, I am assured that God would never leave me nor forsake me even if He doesn’t have much to say.
Have you ever been there? Everything appears to be aligned with heaven, and all is going well, only to find that all things seem to align with hell as you venture forward. I kept reminding myself of the words of the Apostle Paul. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Meditate on These Things 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. – Phil 4:6-9
I did not need to hear the audible voice of God to know that I needed to check my attitude and be grateful for all the things that were going right. A friend of mine had even sent these verses to me while we were on this journey. However, I found it much easier to complain and grumble about the journey than trust God for His peace and see the beauty in the trip despite the daily irritants. Instead of taking the month and traveling on to Oklahoma, we decided to turn back and head home.
I was still determined to find Jesus on the journey, and so every time we had to stop for the day or night, I hoped to find a sweet place that only we would have access to. In a world with billions of people, finding a quiet place without people is impossible. I knew what I wanted, and for some reason, it seemed that God was not giving me access to that isolated place with water, trees, and quiet. Then we landed in Bakersfield, California for the last three days of our trip, and there, the Holy Spirit spoke. I will spare you the details of the hundreds of people and the traffic backup involved in getting to this lake with trees and a beautiful view of the mountains.
I wondered if this could be the place that God called us to and only seven hours away from our home. I wondered why we had to take such an adventure in terrible weather (for us desert people) just to land seven hours from home. But, when the Holy Spirit showed up at that picnic table near the trees and water, I was just grateful to know that we were traveling with the Lord, even though it felt as if we were all alone.
A little farther down in Philippians chapter four, we read the rest of what Paul said in his letter to the church in Philippi. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Php 4:11-13
Paul talked about the offerings the people had sent him and how he has learned to be content with much or lack. But the thing God wanted me to remember was to be content and at peace no matter the situation. Whether I am uncomfortable in a land I do not know or cold and wet from an untimely winter storm in April; I need to be content in the truth that if I want to, I can do ALL things in the strength of Jesus Christ. Notice Paul did not say he was able to do it all and be happy but that he understood no matter how tough the situation got, he has it covered in his Saviors strength.
Long ago, a prophet named Jeremiah was complaining to God about the wicked prospering, and God's response might not be what anyone wants to hear, but it is God’s word. God told His prophet, “If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, Then how can you contend with horses? And [if] in the land of peace, [In which] you trusted, [they wearied you], Then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan? - Jer 12:5 NKJV
Think about this for a moment. If we grow weary when things are rough, but they are not as bad as they can get, we will not make it through the more difficult times. Then, in Ephesians chapter six, we are encouraged that after we have armored up and done all we can to stand in times of warfare, we must continue to stand. When we stand waiting and listening, we can be sure that God will eventually speak. He is working something out of us when we journey through difficult times.
God did not cause the sinkhole in front of our driveway, nor did He cause the water leak in our RV. God may have actually sent angels to assist in that mess because it should have been worse. God did not cause a Pitbull to attack another little dog in front of our RV or raise the diesel price so that our trip cost was double.
You see, it is all from our perspective. The Israelites were rescued from slavery, yet they grumbled at the provision from God for forty years, causing an entire generation not to enter their promises. God uses the circumstances around us to work out the condition of our hearts. I had to turn everything into a God thing and believe that He was working something out in me. Anxiety from the unknown had to be worked out. Unhealthy mindsets from the lack of control over most of our situations had to be worked out. Frustration, disappointment, fear, anger, or any other unhealthy reaction to troubles must be worked out of us before God can take us to a new level of trust. If we won’t trust Him when things are a little shaky, how can we trust Him when the quakes come?
Heavenly Father, Your word tells us to be joyful when we suffer various trials and persecution. You train us in this life, taking us through event after event until You have brought us to a place of maturity and trust. Your word tells us that perfect love will cast out all fear because fear has torment, and torment is not from You. Help me today to be self-controlled in all things known or unknown. Help me to walk in Your Spirit so that I will not fulfill the lust of the flesh, which includes every unhealthy reaction to stress. I trust You, God, with my life and how it should go; help me walk accordingly. In Jesus’ name, Amen.