Have you ever been trying to get somewhere, and you got lost? This past week my kids and I went to spend Spring Break with my aunt in Florida. While we were there, we took a wrong turn one night and it was dark. My Aunt realized she didn’t know where she was and started to panic a little. However, I keyed the address into my phone and in just six minutes, we arrived at our destination. All was well! It’s amazing the peace we have believing that Siri knows where we should go whether we do or not. I will blindly turn down whatever road or take any exit she tells me to (or he, as my Siri voice is an Australian man because I just like that accent, ha).
Several years ago, my sister and I had to attend a day long training we needed for the school that we administrated. We were using the GPS on our phones to get us there, however we had the written directions to the location where we were going and a road atlas in the car, just in case! She was driving, and I was the navigator (this sounds like the beginning to a bad joke). This was a new place we had never been, but we weren’t worried. We had this all under control . . . until we didn’t. We made it to the location just fine and both of us commented that we couldn’t figure out why they would choose that location so far out of the way for this training. We were in the middle of nowhere surrounded by forest. The meeting lasted all day with that mid-afternoon need for coffee so we wouldn’t doze off. We were so glad when the training ended, and we were ready to get home. It’s amazing how exhausting sitting and listening to lectures all day can be! As we headed out, we realized that we didn’t have much gas left and neither of us could remember if we had passed a gas station on the way. We were so focused on getting there that we didn’t stop to consider getting home after it was over. And, since we had never been to this place, we hadn’t considered that it may be far away from civilization or any way to get gas while we were driving there. We also realized that both of our phones had gone dead and neither of us had brought a car charger. This current predicament had us a little concerned, but as the sun began to set and we realized that we were lost, our concerns began to grow into straight out fear. We had no way to contact anyone if we ran out of gas and we had no idea where we were and couldn’t remember the last time we had seen a house. No one else knew where we were either to even come looking for us. We did our best to try to find street signs and figure out where we were, but none were found, and panic was starting to get a hold on us. All we could think of was here we are in the middle of “who knows where” and what if we run out of gas and it is dark and we are just two women, alone, in the dark. That was not a pleasant thought, at all! I don’t know about you, but whenever I get lost, I start to drive faster. I don’t know why I think if I just drive faster, I’ll get to my destination. However, if I’m heading in the wrong direction, I’m just going the wrong way faster. That logic never seems to hit me, when panic sets in. At that moment, my sister and I just wanted to accelerate our way out of the unknown situation we had found ourselves in. Life is sometimes much like this scenario. We never know when negative situations, tests, trials, or battles are going to hit us. There’s that phone call that we never wanted to get or the diagnosis that we though was for others but not for us. When these unexpected detours hit us, they catch us off guard and we must decide whether we are going to panic or breath and get through it the best that we can.
Tomorrow will be two months since I lost my husband to cancer. From the day that he was diagnosed until today, I am daily hit without any warning with situations that make me feel lost and completely out of control. Every day I am faced with the decision to panic or breath and trust God. I’ll be honest, today is one of those days when I’d just like to sit in a closet and cry like a baby and feel sorry for myself. I’m sad. Then, I’m mad and then I’ll start yelling at God. He quietly comforts me and the answers I am looking for are already there as He gently speaks to me. However, just like any other time that I am lost, I want to speed up and try to accelerate through this situation to get to somewhere that is familiar and not so painful–my safe, happy place. Yet, only God knows the direction that He needs me to go and He is well aware of my “location” and “destination point”—far more than I am. Today as I was talking to the Lord about this panic, I told Him that I just wanted to fast forward through this pain. Because I believe that there is always good that will come from a season of suffering, I told Him that I just wanted to accelerate through this part and get to the good part. I’ve been waiting on the “good part” for years now. So, is that too much to ask?
When we read in the Bible about Joseph toward the end of the book of Genesis, and the struggles that he went through, we learn that we can’t just “accelerate” through times of testing because they teach us and condition us and we are going to need those lessons later when we do arrive where He is taking us. From the time that God gave Joseph dreams of being a great leader that even his brothers would bow to, to the time that he saw the dream become a reality was almost 22 years. In fact, 14 of those years was spent in a cold, dark prison, locked up because of a false accusation. I’m sure Noah was wondering whether he had really heard from God during the 120 years from the time God told him that He was going to send a flood and when the actual rains came. Abraham was already 75 years old when God promised him a son. He was already skeptical because of his age, but God went and made him wait 25 more years before his wife, Sara, became pregnant. It was 30 years before Jesus was able to begin His ministry. Lazarus was dead for four days while his family and friends mourned before Jesus came and brought him back to life. Jacob had to work for 14 years to gain the hand of the women he loved in marriage. Clearly, waiting is in important theme in the lives of so many who were used by God for great things. I’m sure if any of them had ever driven a car and understood the concept of acceleration, they would have wanted to hit the accelerator and speed right out of that test, too. But any time one of them tried to accelerate their testing period or make things happen for themselves, they always got into trouble and so did everyone else around them.
Waiting is hard. Being lost is scary. Both require us to slow down, take a deep breath and lean on the One that we know has all the answers. Many times we must blindly trust that He is with us and working through every situation that seems so difficult. Otherwise, we stand to get ourselves into trouble and lose complete sight of the reason we are in that situation to begin with. When we do this, we lose the benefit of the very lesson God is trying to teach us through the situation we are in. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around why my husband died when we all believed that he would be healed. But I have to tell you that every time I get angry with God about this uncomfortable season that I find myself in, I can see my precious husband smiling when his body was literally dying. I see his face, skin and bones and yellowed with jaundice with the biggest smile and he’s holding his thumbs up and joking with nurses and doctors. I remember him singing, “I love you Lord, and I lift my voice to worship you, Oh my soul rejoice! Take joy my King, in what you hear, let it be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear,” when he had chronic hiccups for over two weeks straight, 24 hours a day. Click Here (David Worships Through His Pain Video Clip) I see him praising God with his hand and tapping his foot just a few days before he died when he wasn’t even able to talk anymore. I remember how he handled that terrible season and I know that I must do what he did and trust my Father, regardless of what each new day may bring.
So, I guess you are wondering if my sister, Haley and I ever made it out of the woods that night. Actually, that terrible situation proved to be a learning experience for both of us. We realized that if we didn’t calm down, pray, trust God to get us out of this and take this one step at a time, we could really be in trouble and may be spending the night in her car in the dark, unknown woods. So, we got hold of ourselves and we prayed. We prayed for peace and that the fear would leave and that the Holy Spirit would lead us. Then, we prayed for a supernatural miracle that we would not run out of gas. As a wave of peace came over us, we started to notice landmarks that seemed familiar and began to get our bearings as to where we were. We could do nothing but trust that God would stretch our gas until we could get to a station, so that’s what we did. Worrying about the gas gauge was not going to move it. Although our fingernails may have been dug into the steering wheel and dashboard, we were doing our best to stay calm and trust the Lord to get us home safely. It wasn’t long before we found our way out of the woods and back into civilization. Our fuel held out and we made it home. I can honestly tell you that I don’t remember one thing we learned at the training that day (oops!), but I remember every detail about our drive home. Today, God brought it back to me to tell me to stop trying to accelerate my way through every situation I am dealing with right now. He reminded me, in so many ways, to trust Him because He knows exactly where I am, how much fuel I need to get to my destination and when I will need to fill up again and He knows where I am going, even though I have no idea. What better place to run than to His word, when we are perplexed and fearful of the future. He tells us in Philippians 4:6 “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (NLT)
King David, in the Psalms, is one who would always cry out to God, his good, bad and ugly. He was intimate with God and would praise him in one passage and question Him in another. Yet, the Bible tells us that he was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). God loved David even through his weaknesses. David said, “When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.” Psalm 94:19 (NLT) Another translation of that verse says, “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” (NIV) David’s story tells me that God is OK with me being totally honest with him when I’m happy with him and even when I’m angry with Him or having trouble understanding His ways.
Right now, I’m at a place in my life that I have absolutely no idea what each new day holds. All the dreams and plans that David and I had together have all changed. I will go the rest of my life on earth without him, my best friend, by my side. I can choose to panic (and trust me, it’s been hard to fight), or I can lean on God’s promise for my life. I know that God wouldn’t have let any of this happen with an evil intent for me and my children. He has us right in the palm of His hand. I know that, regardless of what situations may look like and I can really rest in that, if I will just breath and believe that! If I go to His Word, he continues to assure me that this is true:
Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (NIV)
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (NIV)
Proverbs 3:5-7 “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil!” (MSG)
I don’t know where you are today. Maybe you feel like me and my sister, when we were lost in the dark woods and you are panicking. Maybe you feel overwhelmed, just like I do, about the future because your dreams have been shattered by death, betrayal, job loss or a negative diagnosis. Wherever you are, STOP! Take a breath! And do like Proverbs says, “Run to God.” He already has the answers and He will get you through. Do your best to “Run from evil.” The enemy would like nothing more than to continue to steal, kill and destroy everything in your life and that’s why he would have you run to evil. Evil may not be what you think it is. Evil for you may just be giving up and sitting at home on the couch with a half-gallon of ice cream binging on Netflix because you just don’t want to face the unknown future. That can be just as evil as turning to drugs or alcohol or even suicide. All the above rob you and everyone else from the destiny that God has for you. No one can take that away from you. RUN TO GOD.
I will leave you with this final thought. I had received a text last night from my dear friend who lost her son just a few short weeks before I lost my husband. She was asking for prayer about something difficult that meant moving forward from the pain that she is experiencing from the loss of her son. I responded that I completely understood how hard these types of decisions are at this point in the grieving process. I told her what I thought the Lord was telling me to share with her and ended with, “We will pass these tests the enemy is throwing at us to defeat us and we will kick him in the teeth!” She responded, “It’s hard to bite when you’ve got no teeth.” Well folks, that’s a good word! He can’t bite you, if you kick his teeth out. So today, decide that you will not let the enemy’s plans destroy you. Turn on him, trust God, and move forward as the Lord leads you in the direction that He has for you.
If you know someone that needs to hear this, I’d ask you to share this blog with them. Also, I’d like for you to share, below, if there is anything that me and all my readers can join in prayer with you about. I would also like to know a time when maybe you felt lost and God showed you the way out of the situation you were in and any lessons that you learned from that experience. I’m doing my best to move forward from this life changing season I am in and openly sharing with you helps me. Trust me that when you share your testimonies, that helps me, too. We need each other. Blessings to you this week!!!!