You Have All You Need to Get Where You're Going
If you scroll through the last few months of my writing, or even the last few months of posts on social media, you’ll find quite a collection of thoughts on being in the valley season of my faith. It felt like far too much time spent fighting my way out of a place I so despised; I’d much prefer a constant mountaintop experience. The beginning of summer brought me from the valley season to one of rest. While I was relieved to head for new scenery, I was equally as much afraid of new ground. For as often as I cry out to God saying, “Let’s do something exciting!” I also cry, “Oh help, Dad, I’m afraid to go somewhere new.”
I love the story of the beginning of Moses’ ministry in Egypt, when God first calls him by name. Moses walks beside a mountain and the Bible says that an angel appeared to him in the form of the burning bush (Exodus 3:2, ESV), he notices the bush and resolves to turn from the path he was taking and take a closer look. This brief moment sets Moses toward a life of faith; God places Himself in the path and gives Moses the opportunity to know Him. The Bible then says, in verse four, that “when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, “Here I am.’”
The Lord revealed to me through this story the pattern of seasons with God: it’s opportunity and response. By the blood of Jesus, we’re able to hear the voice of God calling us off our path, but we have the freedom to choose our response. What kind of lover would Jesus be if he forced us from one place to another without a say in the matter? It’d be like forcing your best friend to go to the place of your choice every time you decided to do something, disregarding their opinion altogether. Our Father, though, is the best companion; He likes giving you options because He knows love is only true when it’s given freely.
God gives you the option to say “yes” or “no” as you walk from season to season with Him, just as He did with Moses. As the story continues and God tells Moses of His epic plan to set the Israelites free from slavery, we witness one of the most amusing exchanges between God and a man in Scripture (or at least I think so). To paraphrase, God says to Moses, “Surprise, I’m the same God that your ancestors flipped their lives upside down to follow and you’re going to follow me too. I heard the cry of your people, the ones you once tried to defend back when you lived in Egypt, and I want to use you to bring them out of slavery and into a land flowing with milk and honey that you’re going to take from various intimidating people groups.” (That’s a rough summary of Exodus 3:6-10.)
Moses responds, “Yeah, no. Wrong guy.”
God counters, “My child, you have nothing to fear because I told you I will be with you. It’s worth your time because, after you do this, I’m going to let you serve me for the rest of your life.”
Again, Moses questions, “As I play this out in my mind, I realize I’m going to look really stupid in front of all of these people if I can’t entirely explain who I am and what I’m doing nor justify every action. Did you think that through?”
I love God’s response. He silences Moses with the simple statement “I AM who I AM.” This exchange makes me laugh because I’ve had this conversation with God many times over the past few years, though outside of the freeing-the-Israelites context. This is, in fact, my most frequent response to new seasons with God. Some of my go-to statements of fear are, “They’re going to think I’m weird,” or “I don’t have enough faith to follow through.” For this newest season it was,“I don’t want to be lonely,” but they all fall under the general theme of, “That looks unfamiliar and scary and I don’t think I’m strong enough to handle it, let’s just not.” I’ve tended to push or pull or drag my feet when I realize God’s leading me somewhere new, somewhere not within the carefully constructed religious box. Each complaint I send at my Savior is met with, “But daughter, don’t you remember who I am?” As with Moses, my fear falls away and faith awakens when met by the Living God. His kindness, goodness and love are irresistible; He’s the very thing my heart was created for.
In a life with God lies the satisfaction of everything our hearts desire. An encounter with Him sparks a fire in our souls, igniting the kindling He placed within us at the beginning. When you have gazed upon the perfect face of Jesus or heard Him call your name, when you recognize that He alone holds everything you’ve ever longed for, how could you move in any other direction than toward Him?
Knowing King Jesus nullifies the crippling symptoms of fear. Encountering God empowers us to step forward into whatever is next because His love casts out every anxiety. I always interpreted that phrase to mean that, if I truly loved Jesus and believed in Him, I’d never face something I was afraid of because His love would remove any feelings of fear. While He may very well cast out doubt, and those moments are incredible gifts, He is as equally likely to nudge us forward even when remnants of fear can still be found in our hearts. His “love casts out fear” because it sets us free from fear’s former power, loosing our feet from the shackles to which we were bound before we met Jesus. This freedom doesn’t guarantee you’ll never feel fear again, it guarantees that you are no longer bound by it.
As Moses considers where God has asked him to go, he lists off his insufficient talent or intellect as reason to abandon the cause (Exodus 4:1-13). In fear, he tells God, “Please send someone else.” The Bible then says that the Lord’s anger was kindled against Moses, but His love provides the measure of faith necessary to prepare Moses for the journey ahead. In order to protect the relationship between them, God produces the resources needed for Moses to obey His command; He provides faith, dressed as Aaron, for the task ahead. God says to Moses, “I will provide Aaron as a mouthpiece for you. You’ll do what I’ve asked, but He will be your voice.” (Exodus 4:14-17) God meets Moses in his small faith and provides what is needed for greater faith to arise. You see, had Moses disobeyed God because of his fear, it would have affected their relationship. In His compassion and kindness, God provides a way for Moses to step into the season where he has been called and to continue in relationship with Himself.
If we believe God is who He says He is, then we believe that He provides. The core of Christianity is that, no matter the cost, God always rescues His children. God will not ask you to step into a new season with Him and then set you up to fail. He’s a good friend, father, companion, lover—His kindness never runs out.
And He gives us the measure of faith necessary to step into the land He’s called us.
"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way." (James 1:2-4, MSG)