October 15, 2008

 

Puddle Dancing

Marybeth Whalen

 

“But our fathers refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt.” Acts 7:39 (NIV)

         

Devotion:

We’d not had rain in many, many days. I don’t know how large of an area this drought has affected in the US, but I know it has been much larger than my immediate area. I’ve heard on the radio that the drought was the worst we had seen in 100 years. So, that gives you an idea of how serious it had been.

 

As day after day of record heat combined with no rain waged on last summer, I caught myself scanning the skies for a stray cloud or any sign that rain was coming. I heard that Atlanta, GA was about 60 days from being out of water. Even closer to my home, Monroe, NC was about 110 days from being out of water. We don't think about it often, but can you imagine life without water? In short, things were getting desperate.

I was happy when the rain finally came. I rejoiced in it. I thanked God for it. I even prayed that it would keep on raining. I had hope that this rain would begin to replenish our 14 inches of water-level deficit. Come on, rain, I thought. As I loaded children and bags of groceries in the car, I tried not to be grumpy about the rain. I tried to smile even as my hair was getting wet; even as my son was splashing in puddles, soaking his shoes. Every time I felt myself getting grumpy and wishing it would stop raining, I focused instead on how much we needed the rain – and how this rain was an answer to prayer. And yet, I must confess that after it went on for a while, I was anxious for the rain to go away and dry weather to return. Even though I knew that God was giving us what we needed most, I started looking backwards.

And then God gave me a vision of how much I was like the Israelites as they wandered in the desert. The scripture tells us that oppressive Egypt was starting to look good to them again. They had prayed for deliverance from slavery and God had provided it. He had answered their prayers and given them what they needed. Yet as day after day of walking and wandering began to take its toll, they started to forget God's goodness and concentrate on their circumstances instead. Oh, to be back in Egypt, they thought.

How often do we do this? We ask for deliverance from something, we are thankful for the deliverance, but then as we walk through the hard parts of actually being delivered, the flesh begins to cry out in opposition. We start drifting backwards in our spirits to that place that was familiar, instead of walking obediently towards where God wants to take us.

 

I know this has been true with our family’s finances. We prayed for deliverance from debt and God began to show us a way out. Yet as we have walked through what it has taken to be debt-free, I have often caught myself looking back at when I used to charge things freely, with no thought as to how we would pay for it. Oh, how nice that was to just be able to go buy something without having to scrounge and save, I find myself thinking.

I don't want to look backwards or give into the comforts my flesh craves. I want to push forward, straining for the prize God has for me. I want to seek Him with all my heart – no matter where that takes me. I want to live in that sometimes uncomfortable place of walking in total obedience. When the rain comes pouring down, I want to choose to dance in the puddles instead of longing for the shelter of past sunny days.

 

Dear Lord, I want to focus on Your plan and not my comfort level when things get hard. I want to live a life that seeks You instead of a life spent looking backwards. Help me to thank You in all circumstances and to trust completely in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Related Resources:

Do You Know Him?

 

Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society by Eugene Peterson

 

A Thankful Heart: How Gratitude Brings Hope and Healing to our Lives by Carole Lewis

 

Visit Marybeth’s blog for more encouragement to dance in the rain!

 

Application Steps: 

Spend some time today praying for God to show you where your attitudes and actions have been more “backward thinking” than “forward thinking.” Write down anything God shows you as a result, and any verses of scripture you might need to cling to as you walk forward with Him.

 

Reflections: 

Have you been looking backwards lately?

 

Is there somewhere God is taking you right now that feels uncomfortable, yet necessary?

 

Power Verses:

Philippians 3:13-14, “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (NIV) 

 

Luke 9:62, “Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’” (NIV)

 

Numbers 11:18-20, “Tell the people: ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The Lord heard you when you wailed, ‘If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!’ Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat it. You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and you have wailed before him, saying, ‘Why did we ever leave Egypt?’’” (NIV)

 

 © 2008 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

 

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