Between Panic and Paradise

What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead. —Hebrews 11:1 (TLB)

 On State Route 119 between Big Run and DuBois stands an interesting and somewhat amusing highway sign, giving the direction and mileage to some area towns: Panic, Desire, and Paradise. Yes, those are real names of real towns here in western Pennsylvania.

Pity the poor folks who have to say they live between Panic and Paradise. Wait. That would be all of us. 

On our journey from the womb to the tomb, much like the ancient Israelites’ 40-year trek through the wilderness, we travel through various states of panic and desire (and so much in between) to get to our Promised Land. We learn the rules of survival along the way—one of which, and the most important, is to carry a survival kit.

Included in this survival kit are four essential items.

First is a vision of your destination—Paradise, or Heaven, God’s home. In this goal-setting society in which we live, we’re advised to post a picture of what it is we want to achieve someplace where we’ll see it everyday. When we were still building our house—a 30-year-project—I taped picture of a log home inside a kitchen cupboard door. Keeping what we want in sight daily reaffirms the belief that we will eventually get there and helps us to trudge through the rough spots. Read Revelation 21 and 22 often to keep the vision of your destination fresh.

Another vital item your survival kit should carry is faith, which will fuel your faltering steps. As Corrie Ten Boom once said, “Faith is like radar that sees through the fog.” As defined by God’s Word, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

The third item is a map to guide you along the way. You already know the route: Jesus Road, for He said, “I am the way. … No one comes to the Father (and His home) except through Me” (John 14:6). But we can get confused when darkness descends, as it always will. God’s Word, as phrased in The Message, will “throw a beam on light” on the darkened path (Psalm 119:105).

The last item is identification. Even when I’m hiking, I carry my driver’s license in a pocket. Identification is proof that we are who we say we are. When you travel to a foreign country, you need proof of citizenship. On our journey to Paradise, we carry the citizenship papers Jesus provided—proof that we are citizens of Heaven (Philippians 3:20). We don’t belong to the world we’re traveling through. Like the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11, we’re “aliens and strangers on earth” (Hebrews 11:13).

As you travel from Panic to Paradise, clutching your survival kit, remember you don’t walk alone, for the King of your destination is travelling with you. (See Exodus 33:14; Hebrews 13:5; Matthew 28:20). 

As I trek through the wilderness of this world, Lord, remind me to use my survival kit.  Amen.

Read and reflect on Hebrews 11.

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

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, six hundred miles away, my husband and I try to make the ten-hour drive to visit with her and her family at least once 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.