Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Valleys, Teddy Bears, and Rivers in the Desert

teddy bear
Does it ever feel like everything is turning upside down?- like everything you found secure and comfortable is being taken and shaken?- like you are in a valley that will never end?- like the rain will never stop?

That has been some of my feelings lately…and I know quite a few of my friends are facing even worse clouds than the ones that are hovering over me.

Last night, I poured out my heart to God.  I told my Father that nothing makes sense.  I told Him that I feel like I am suffocating.  I told Him that I just want Him to hear me, and I just want to hear Him.  I cried that I don’t understand why my dad is still suffering and had a relapse and the doctors can’t figure out what is wrong, why the place where I had finally felt accepted and at home is being dealt blows, why my future looks so uncertain and unsure, why things can’t just work out for the good once in awhile.

Then I started reading—-and this is what my Father said to me.

“When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.  I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.  I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together: That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it” (Is. 41:17-20).
“But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mineWhen thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee” (Is. 43:1-2) .
Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosenThis people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise” (Is. 43:19-21).

He didn’t tell me why all this stuff is happening right now.  He didn’t tell me what the outcome will be, but He did tell me that He will be right beside me through the darkest and most trying times.  He told me that He is the way through the wilderness and the fountain in the valley.  He went through valleys darker than mine so that He could help me through the ones that I face on my journey.  No, it doesn’t answer my questions.  It doesn’t make everything all better and rosy, but it does make it bearable to know that I am not alone.

There is a picture that I have been seeing on Facebook, it is of Jesus asking a little girl to give up her precious teddy bear so that He can give her an even better gift.  I love this picture, but I see something slightly confusing about it.  When we give up, we do not usually get back greater physical things.  We will be rewarded; but it isn’t always immediate, and sometimes it is through other means like peace and joy bubbling as springs within our hearts…not a larger teddy bear.

Sometimes though, I get the mentality that by living a good life for Christ I will have things easy.  I think that by holding family, friends, church, and future with an open hand out to my Father, I will be rewarded with huge physical blessings.  The fact is sometimes I am even tested harder after that.

I often wonder if Satan approaches God about us, Christians, as he did about Job.  Can’t you see him laughing as he looks at my doubt, worry, and complaints.  “Ha,” he says, “She says she loves You, but it doesn’t last long when she has to give up what is precious to her.  Look how she questions when her good is not rewarded and life gets even harder and the giant teddy bear is never given.  What a wimpy little Jesus girl You have in Your Kingdom, God.  She will never last until the end.”

I know that you, no matter how old or young, are facing something.  Everyone is traveling this bumpy road of life…each of us will come across different obstacles and valleys.  You may not understand what is going on in your own life right now.  You may feel tempted to give up, but remember that the “waters shall not overflow thee or the flame kindle upon thee”.  Be okay with letting Jesus have that teddy bear, no matter how much you love it.  You can trust Him with it, and one day you will be rewarded…even if it’s not here on earth or in the form you think.  Christ never promised us a “healthy and wealthy” Christian life, but He did promise to be with us, even unto the very end of the world (Math. 28:20).  Now that’s a gift that we can hold unto and stick into our suitcase for the valley ahead!