Promised Land Revisited

I've been searching for a long time. Feeling as if I've been wandering in the wilderness (thankfully not 40 years). And yet, recently, I've hit upon an important decision about my life and everything has clicked into place. What was now restlessness is replaced with hopeful anticipation. You can say this is part two of my Promised Land post.

Is that what if felt like for the Israelites standing on the precipice of immense change. It is for this reason I decided to read Deuteronomy. It's a snapshot of my life right now.

Now let's hit pause:

Ten Commandments.jpeg

Moses is not my favorite of the men in the bible. He comes off very blame-shifty. "But God it isn't my fault." Thankfully, there isn't a ton of that in Deuteronomy. While we're at it, the patriarchy and genocide is rampant. There were times I stopped reading to say WTF, God? That's a separate post for another time.

Deuteronomy hits on a central theme of stepping into your promise as God has declared it over your life. Some of us are still seeking it. Others know what it is but, like me, find yourself running from it. But in both instances, you're left feeling restless. It's the undercurrent in your life. Sure, things, people, and circumstances will distract you for a time - days, weeks, even years - but it's like a mosquito buzzing in your ear.

This book of the bible is all about preparing you for stepping into that promised land. It's a reflection of where you are and where you've been. It's a corrective calling your attention to where you've messed up and it reflects promise. It pivots around a basic and yet profound statement:

Trust and obey God

Trust that he's got you like he has before.

Obey what he tells you to do and when to do it.

Trust when it doesn't make sense.

Obey when you don't want to.

Trust when you're scared.

Obey even when it's hard.

And friends, it is hard. It's hard to recognize when there are limits to your power. That ultimately, it's in God's hands. It is hard when you want to do and God clearly says "no" or "wait."

But he doesn't leave you twisting in the wind. He validates his promise. It can come from any direction, any person, or circumstance. A reminder that he is here. My validations have come from people I know and strangers. To have a stranger speak to you exactly what God spoke to you and then that person float out of your life leaves you SHOOK.

To be clear, the promised land does not mean you won't have to do the work. God, through Moses, told them what lay ahead of them. The people they would encounter and overcome in order to gain what God promised.

My journey into the promised land, the fullness of God's promise, won't be easy but neither will yours. He makes no such promise. He does let you know that if you trust and obey him, he'll prepare your way. That nothing and no one will stand long against you. 

But you've got to show up and do the work.

God Speaks to Me

God speaks to me.

He speaks me in a variety of ways.

  • Through the voice inside you that says “don’t do it” or “do that” whether it means something or seemingly means nothing to you

  • Through a concerned friend or family member or stranger

  • Through the continual reminders - email, social media, tv - something that you see or hear that seems as if it's speaking directly to you and your circumstances. Yes, you.

  • Through your dreams

For most of my life, my response has varied. Sometimes I hear Him and do it His way. Other times, I hear Him and keep going my way. He is patient with me in those times. Allows me to stumble and fall only to realize the He knows what to do.

Two years ago, God, quite clearly and only for the second time in my 32 years, spoke to me in my dreams. It was unlike any dream I ever had. It startled me out of my sleep and its message stuck with me for days, weeks, and months.

I heard but I did not listen. 

He told me simply, “People will not like you. But, take it to the altar. Give it to me.”

My response was a what does that mean? A skeptical uh, okay. Then I kept it moving. All of it, I see now, was preparation for what was to come.

I have been tried in more ways than one before, during, and after that dream. I found myself in a leadership position at work, something wholly new to me. I did my best and sometimes still came up short. I was treading water to keep from drowning.  But the hardest part was I had thoughts, opinions, ideas I wanted to express and yet I fell silent time and time again.

I could see right through the bullshit to the heart of the problem but I didn’t speak on it. I kept tap-dancing around it. Making other people aware of what was going on while avoiding it. My anger and frustration grew and started to consume me. I carried it with me every where. Like a virus, it infected me and sickened my relationships.

I prayed to God to change them, the people that plagued me, change the circumstances, change me. Anything. But the problems kept getting worse. Why weren’t YOU listening to ME?! I demanded on more than one occasion.

I didn’t say what I should have said or do what I should have done because I wanted to remain in their good graces. For them to like me. But that’s not what my Father told me.

My Father told me people would not like me. Nowhere in that statement did He specify what I had done wrong or what was wrong with them. Only that people will not like me. Following that, He gave me explicit instructions:

Take it to the altar. Give it to me.

He did not say carry it with me. He did not say tell it to other people. He said 1.) take it to the altar (aka pray) and 2.) give it to me (tell ME about it). All this time of frustration and anger made clear.

I spent so much time doing everything but that.

I don’t see those prayers over the past few months and years as in vain. In fact, some ways, I cultivated a richer, more honest prayer life with God. (I mean, we all pray and hold back a little like God doesn’t see into our hearts, amirite?)

All this time I should have been praying, “how?” How do I give it to you and not pick up this problem/this situation again? How do I let go of the anger? Help me to give that to you. Help me to desire to give that to you first and foremost. Above all things.

When I had that quiet realization, I cried. I cried tears I didn’t know I had. I cried tears of release like a secret knot had loosened.

I hear you, Lord. I really do.