Rest Stops

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there by the water. – Exodus 15:22

Since our daughter settled in South Carolina, seven hundred miles away, my husband and I used to make the twelve-hour drive to visit with her and her family two or three times a year. At our age, long trips are easier to take if we make frequent stops to rest and avoid road weariness.

Thousands of years ago, the Israelites also had a long trip to make. One million men, women, and children left the bondage of Egyptian slavery and trekked across a barren wilderness where there was little to eat or drink, and where they were exposed to rain, wind, sun, and storms, headed for a land flowing with milk and honey. Along the way, they got tired, thirsty, hungry, and discouraged.

But they were on a faith-growing journey, and the One who led them had many lessons to teach them. They failed test after test. Just when they were in the deepest despair and discouragement, hope dwindling and faith faltering, God intervened—with manna from heaven, water from desert rocks, and an oasis with twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees.

I’m sure the weary travelers would have loved to pitch their tents and stay at that oasis the rest of their lives. But eventually they had to move on. The oasis wasn’t their destination.

The Israelites’ journey through the wilderness is a picture of our journey through life. Once the shackles of our bondage to sin are broken, we begin our journey to the Promised Land – Heaven. We, too, struggle through the wilderness, which, just like the Israelites’ journey so long ago, takes up most of the trip. And we, too, encounter oases sprinkled along the way. But we cannot abide in the rest stops. They are there to provide a temporary respite from the difficulties of life, refresh our minds and spirits, and renew our strength.

Sometimes I’d like to find an oasis and move in permanently. But God calls me to venture into the wilderness on a faith-growing journey. And, just like with the Israelites, He will be with me every step of the way.

Thank You, Lord, for the wilderness that stretches my faith and the oases that refresh me and give me the strength to journey on. Amen.

Read and reflect on Exodus 15:22–16:1

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey.

Conditions and Promises

The view from my back deck – my quiet place

But those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land. – Psalm 37:9 NIV

My life is a witness to the faithfulness of God.

Back when we were poor and renting an apartment in town, we longed for a house in the country. But circumstances being what they were, the only chance we had of attaining that dream was a prayer.

But prayer, as we’ve learned over the years, is the most powerful force in the universe. Because sincere prayer unlocks the power of a God who loves us, has a plan and purpose for our lives, and wants the best for us – His best.

Back then Psalm 37 attached itself to my spirit, particularly verse 9: “Those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.”

And, oh, how we desired land – wide open spaces to roam and grow and raise our family.

Dean grew up on a 90-acre farm, and times spent visiting his parents in the country brought a spring to his step, a gleam to his eyes, and a joy in his heart that nothing else could. I saw a side of him I didn’t see when we were in town. I loved this side of him, and being the good wife that I am, longed for a home in the country even more.

But – the great “buts” of life – the obstacles, the mountains we cannot climb, the impossible dreams.

But nothing is impossible with God (Matthew 19:26, Luke 1:37).

Ever notice the “but factor” in the Bible? First a statement of distress, then “But God . . .” There’s neither time nor room to explore all the places in the Word this statement appears. But let’s just focus on one psalm: Psalm 37 – the psalm the Lord gave me when I felt hopeless, the psalm I clung to over the years, the psalm I believed was God’s promise to me.

I particularly latched onto verse 4: “Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

The desires of my heart can be dangerous if not in line with what God wants for me. So my prayer became, “Lord, place Your desires in my heart, so I want what You want me to want – what You want for me.”

As I studied the psalm further, I saw it was a condition-promise psalm. There were certain conditions I am to fulfill for God to act on my behalf. Let’s look at them.

I am to:

  • not fret
  • trust in God
  • do good
  • live in dependence on Him
  • delight in Him
  • commit my way to Him
  • rest in Him
  • refrain from anger and forsake wrath
  • depart from evil
  • wait on the Lord
  • keep His way

And God will:

  • give me the desires of my heart
  • act (bring it to pass, answer prayer)
  • bring forth righteousness and justice
  • cause me to inherit the land
  • give me an abundance of peace
  • uphold me with His hand
  • be my strength in times of trouble
  • deliver me

I especially love verses 23–24: “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.”

As I look back on my life, I see the faithfulness of a God who keeps His Word, who cares intimately for me, who guides and directs my steps and makes them firm, who gives me the desires of my heart.

Yes, we inherited the land. We have a beautiful home in the country on 13 acres, a family we delight in, faithful friends we can depend on for prayer support, and a God who blesses us exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

Read and meditate on this psalm.

What verses speak to your heart? What situation in your life do these verses address? And, most important, what is God saying to you?

Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening. Amen.

Read and meditate on Psalm 37

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.