Love: Lessons In The Wilderness.

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Through Moses, God delivered His people from slavery and vowed to provide for them every step of the way. A journey that should have only taken 11 days turned into 4 decades due to their fear, unfaithfulness, disobedience and rebellion. Long story short, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years before making it to the Promised Land. Prior to His ministry, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. It’s no coincidence that this is a location designated by God for growth and preparation. The uncertainties are meant to drive us to a complete and utter dependence on our Father.

In weakness, worry and loneliness, He is our strength, peace and friend.

Deuteronomy 8:2-3. Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.  He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

At 39, it finally feels like I’m slowly emerging from a barren wasteland. Through an intimate fellowship with the Lord, He was able to shine a light and illuminate the error of my ways. An immense region that underwent a dramatic transformation is in the area of relationships. I could’ve never predicted the shifts that would take place when I turned myself over to God.

Looking back now, it’s difficult to believe that I strayed so far from that He wanted for me. Quite frankly, I’m truly disgusted with what I deemed acceptable and appropriate. As a mother to a daughter who is fast approaching her teenage years, I’m grateful for the opportunity to impart my foresight. I don’t expect that she’ll be able to grasp all of it but I can sow the right seeds and remain optimistic that good fruit will flourish.

Proverbs 14:26. Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.

I aimlessly breezed through relationships in hope they would somehow, fingers crossed, work out. I’d invest my mind, body and spirit without considering the consequences of being blasé about such significant endeavours. Over time, I became desensitized to the damage which had amassed itself from the reckless indifference. Deep down, I knew the ongoing conflicts and lack of peace were major red flags but still not enough of a deterrent. The numbness settled in and the hurt was only accumulating. In spite of constant warnings, I kept plowing through dead-end situations by trying to resuscitate lifeless conditions.

Then it happened…

I was stopped in my tracks and the wheels were no longer spinning in circles. I had to admit that things needed to change and fast. I reached the end of my madness and had to escape the wreckage before being completely devoured by the flames. I managed to crawl out but was battered, broken and bruised beyond recognition. Rather than wallow in sorrow, I acknowledged this as a sign to seek aid and salvage whatever I could. This crash materialized about 2 years before my renewed walk with Jesus which means He didn’t have an obvious influence, yet. It was an independent decision to take a step back and re-evaluate because I was completely depleted. Nevertheless, this breakdown was an act of God’s loving intervention to get my attention so that amends could be made.

Psalm 51:10. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Cold turkey. I quit entertaining people and scenarios that had the potential to lead me down the path of darkness again. Instead, I focused solely on my top priorities like family, work and staying well. It was a pretty easy thing to do because I was firmly planted in not reverting back to old patterns. Why regress only to endure more of the same so I devoted myself to healing and restoration. In leaps and bounds, this turned out to be the preferable thing to do because it advanced my progression toward being healthier and happier.

Proverbs 4:23. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

A short time later, in a sudden and perfect moment Jesus flooded my heart and I wanted to know Him more. I was ready and eager to receive sound instruction, direction and protection. In truth, He was always there but I could not accommodate His presence because I was in sinful defiance. But when I started reading the Bible and having a relationship with God there was a gradual renewal and refinement. The Lord began to breathe new life by resurrecting the deadness which I had been previously taking refuge in. The fragmented pieces were coming together and a refreshed work of art emerged from the rubble.

Romans 12:1-2. Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

I didn’t turn to Jesus from desperation so that I can follow someone blindly. The more I read and study God’s Word, the more I give thanks for His care and concern. He calls me out with forgiving mercy and asks that I turn away from self-imposed, normalized dysfunction. The knowledge of His wisdom shapes my emotions and creates a testament of internal change. I also get to witness external events unfold before my eyes so there is ongoing confirmation that He is real and present. With all this revelation, I take heed and pay extra close attention to the Lord in order to be in alignment with His will.

Hebrews 4:12.  For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

My identity is securely established in God as the Holy Spirit revives the sensitivity to discern right from wrong. Live and let live but I strive to never repeat past mistakes which will compromise my position and principles. The Lord has revealed there are levels to relationships and each carries its own weight in responsibilities. I used to blur the lines and this generated great tension and strife in the ability to foster a mature relationship. For example, I tried to assume the role of a wife outside of the marriage covenant. This was highly problematic because I didn’t want to be joined in holy matrimony but was still giving away the benefits of such a union. There were no boundaries, purpose or intention and this produced confusion and heartache.

I speak as a woman but men should also have safeguards in place to preserve their dignity.

I have a vision of what it is to be married because God has set the foundation. I don’t have regret but wish that I was wiser sooner because a lot of suffering could’ve been minimized, if not avoided. Thankfully, I now have a thorough awareness of the missteps and pray for continual turnarounds while I trust and obey Him. I no longer engage in fornication because it’s dishonouring and a gateway drug to uncontrollable lust, pornography and cheating. Also, I will never again cohabitate with a man who is not my husband.

Ideally, I’d like to save the first kiss for after the vows on our wedding day.

Proverbs 21:2. A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart.

Currently, the objective is to nurture a connection based on a solid friendship and to keep God at the centre. The future Mr. must have a genuine heart for Jesus because we need to transcend the physical and be united in spirit. Lust disguised as love that is inspired and sustained by the flesh will not be able to carry us through the storms. We’ll need to be anchored to a shared faith if we are to withstand, overcome and be victorious. The person I marry will have an incredible impact on my life so I want the greatest degree of harmony and agreement.

2 Corinthians 6:14-16. Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 

In the wilderness, the Lord has been preparing me for the next phase by shaking and sifting the toxins out. Prayerfully, 40 is around the corner and I could be on the way to reaching my promised land soon.

Nothing beats God’s best and I’ll wait no matter how long it takes.

Amen.