Rest Stops

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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.

Journey Back Home

If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. 2 Timothy 2:13 (NKJV)

I got up this morning at 5:30—a good hour and a half before my scheduled “rise and shine” time. At first I thought I’d go back to bed after my bathroom trek, but my already too-long do-list got longer yesterday when I added an ambitious project with a Nov. 30 deadline. So I knew snuggling back under the covers would be futile. I’d just toss and turn and think and think and think. Body tired, mind wired. You know the feeling.

So I made my cup of caffeine, dressed, and headed to my study.

Since I was up early, I decided to have my quiet time, which, I’m ashamed to admit, has been sorely lacking. I opened my prayer notebook first. My last entry was Feb. 10. And the time before that was Jan. 17. Well, at least it was this year. When I opened my spiritual journal, I was aghast when I saw the date of the last entry: Dec. 14. My Bible study notebook was just as pathetically neglected. I used to write in them every day.

No wonder I’d been feeling adrift, mentally and spiritually.

Last year I blamed my dwindling time with God on life issues, particularly health challenges and family relationships, the latter undergoing tumultuous changes.

Have you ever felt like you’re standing in the midst of fallout you didn’t create? Yet there you are, stuck in the middle of it all, hanging on to a diminishing sense of direction. Well, that’s where I was last year.

This year, as those issues began to smooth out, a monster project took over my life: planning a month-long trip with our fifth-wheel camper to the Pacific Northwest with two other couples. Not an undertaking to sneeze at. Coordinating schedules, planning routes and stops and meals and clothes, getting the camper and truck ready for a 7,000-mile trip, downloading and learning to use travel apps we’d use on the journey—chunk by chunk usurped my time. Small wonder I’m way behind on my novel-writing schedule.

But I shouldn’t blame busyness for not taking time with God. I mean, who really sets my schedule? I’m my own worst taskmaster—slave driver is a better term.

But the more I got done, the less fulfilled and more empty I felt.

You can’t replace God with busyness, no matter how urgent or necessary your activities are. Only God can satisfy your soul. And if your spirit is empty of Him, your entire being—physical, mental, and emotional—is affected. It’s like you’re on a journey with no destination, without a map or app or plan, and are running on fumes.

So this morning, when I finally took quality time to meet with God (and not with one eye on the clock), God met with me. He had, after all, been patiently waiting for me to stop manufacturing excuses and make time with Him my top priority once again.

I opened my Bible to where I’d left off with my personal (and also sporadic) Bible study two months ago, Psalm 37: “Consider the staggering fact that the Creator of time and eternity loves you,” I read in the warm up section. “Write down 10 things you can think of about the love of God.”

Wow! What a place to begin my journey back to God—His love for me. The first three came easily—I’d been pondering them all year: Unconditional. Undeserved. Unlimited. Then, like water sputtering from a hand pump, more words to describe God’s incredible love for me poured forth: steadfast, eternal, healing, unchanging, sacrificial, reliable.

God’s love—the more I meditated on it, the harder it was to wrap my mind around it.

I hadn’t been faithful to Him, but He’d remained faithful to me.

As I wrote the words of Lamentations 3:21–23 in my spiritual journal and the words of Psalm 51:10–12 in my prayer notebook, I knew I’d finally returned home.

Thank you, Father, for Your steadfast, unlimited love. I don’t deserve it, but that’s what unconditional means, doesn’t it? Thank You for pouring its healing grace into my thirsty, travel-weary soul. Amen.

Read and meditate on Lamentations 3:21–23

(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

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