(Part 1 of this series can be found here.)
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.
Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him (Gen. 12:1-7).
God told Abram to leave his home for a land that God would show him. In a stunning act of faith, Abram went, “not knowing where he was going” (Heb. 11:8). God promised to him that He would give the land to Abram’s offspring.
Lots of things happened before they got into the Promised Land…
Attempts to make things happen.
Testing of faith.
Even more waiting.
Finally, some 685 years or so after Abram received the promise, Israel was ready to enter the Land.
In Deuteronomy 11, Moses gave the children of Israel some details about the difference in Egypt and Canaan.
Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, and so that you may live long in the land the Lord swore to your ancestors to give to them and their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey. The land you are entering to take over is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you planted your seed and irrigated it by foot as in a vegetable garden. But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.
So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul—then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied (vs. 8-15).
He continues by revealing that if they turn to idols, God will shut up the rain from the land (see 2 Chron. 7:12-14 as well).
Now this is a great deal of background for one major point that rattled me in my worry and lack of trust. Canaan wasn’t like Egypt. Egypt was irrigated; Canaan would have rain. Simple, right?
I’m really good at irrigating, but I have a hard time waiting on His rain.
I carry water, dig trenches, monitor the Nile’s level, then turn proudly upon the works of my hands and know, down deep, that without me, nothing would have grown there.
God tells me that the Land of Promise drinks rain from Him.
The Land was given with the understanding it would be entered by faith, conquered by faith and then lived in by faith. The same is true today. I get the blessing of living in His care.
“Trust in The Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend (or feed upon) faithfulness” (Ps. 37:3).
“The just shall live by faith” (Heb. 10:38).
Following God isn’t just a single decision. It’s not a nod to the Almighty acknowledging His sacrifice and then running off to do whatever we wish. It’s a day-by-day, moment-by-moment life of trust, not a do-it-yourself project. As a wise friend of mine puts it, “I get sick of carrying Pharaoh’s water bucket.”
Living by faith is not carrying water; it’s dancing in the rain.
Trust requires humility. The prideful heart will never know the rest God offers. Humility means I must surrender control. Or, more accurately, I must surrender my illusion of control. Only God is in total control.
You can live like He is in control or He’s not. If He is in control, you have nothing to worry about. If He’s not, whatever circumstance is causing anxiety in you right now should be the least of your worries. If He isn’t holding it all together, then the entire universe is out of control.
Thankfully, He is in control…always has been, always will be. When I put my dependence upon anything other than Him, I can not expect to stand.
When I forget that I am in His care, my cares multiply. Worry, anxiety and fear are all indicators of a heart that is accustomed to carrying water in Egypt. Worry enslaves you. Your dependence lies within yourself. You make your own streams into the desert rather than depending upon Christ (Is. 43:19). We dig “broken cisterns that hold no water” and expect them to quench our thirst (Jer. 2:13).
The thirst we have is the thirst He gives for water only He supplies.
There are times that it seems like God isn’t going to send the rain. Like Israel, I have times of uncertainty about how God is going to work. How can I handle that tension?
Where circumstances meet the will is the proving ground of faith. When what I perceive and what God says seem to run contrary to each other, what do I do? Our faith boundary is where our view of circumstances limits the act of our will in obedience to Him. This is why we must “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7).
God sees all things (Heb. 4:13; Ps. 33:13). When His truth or what He tells me to do conflicts with my view of reality, I must trust His view. I can not walk according what I see. I desire my view of circumstances and my act of obedience to be so seamless that they run together as one. I am not there yet…not hardly. But God is working on me in this area, and I am thankful for that.
This is what I have been learning and what I tell myself often:
•By faith, know He sees past what you see.
•Realign yourself with Him as needed. When worries come, immediately check where you are placing your confidence in that moment.
•Any insecurity you have is based on a misplaced security.
•Quit digging irrigation trenches in the Promised Land, Dustin. Put down your shovel, feel the rain on your face and dance.
“Wait for The Lord and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land” (Ps. 37:34).
But what do we do with that dreaded silence of God we experience at times while we wait on Him?
Glad you asked.
The answer to that question has challenged and changed me most of all…
(Part 3 can be found here.)