From The Wilderness
What a journey we’re on together. We have discovered that the Lord is our healer as we “see the tree” that took away our sins. He was crucified for our full healing. Our bodies, our memories, and our emotions can be healed and made sweet by the revelation of the cross. If your thoughts are bitter, cast the cross into your attitude. If your body is broken and sick, cast the cross into your weakness. Healing comes as you see the abundant provisions of his cross. And the more you are healed, the more you will want to obey and follow his ways.
I (Candice) can remember harboring hatred and unforgiveness toward one of our closest neighbors in the jungle. She always seemed, in my opinion, to have a way of getting around every boundary I set up. She seemed to constantly take the first, the best, and the most of everything we gave out to the village; she seemed to always have a scheme and a plan; and she frequently sent her children over to our house and left them for me to watch. So my list of offenses went on and on. And to make things worse, I was feeling perfectly justified in those feelings. Until one day when my husband noticed that I had a slight tone that we can all get in our voices when we’re condemning someone and enjoying it. And he confronted me. Oh no! I was busted!
The really bad thing is, I knew better. I was caught red-handed, which is not a good feeling. “Be sure your sin will find you out,” (Numbers 32:23). How disgraceful of me to not love one of my closest neighbors. And so I went on a quest to have God change my heart. But even as I asked for forgiveness and tried my hardest to line up my heart with the Word, my condition was not lining up with my position before the Father. And it wasn’t until one afternoon when our precious seven-year-old daughter was bitten by a five-foot-long Bushmaster snake that I was finally set free. God used an incredibly horrible situation to bring light and life to my heart!
Healing the Attitudes of the Heart
When I received the news that afternoon about the snakebite, my first thoughts were, Lord, are you chastising me? Have I done something wrong that I’ve brought this on our innocent little daughter? And the Lord said, No, your daughter will live, but while I have your full attention, I want you to know that you don’t love my people. As you can imagine, I was shocked! Immediately I thought to myself, Okay, I don’t love Mika, and now you’re telling me that I don’t love any of these people? Wow! I’m really a mess! And as I watched our daughter struggle in and out of consciousness, I heard the Lord say, You’ve entered into my suffering. As I watched my only Son dying upon the cross, I had to turn my back upon him because of your sin. He carried your sin and I suffered for you! I sent my only Son to die for you. Can’t you love these people for whom I’ve shed my blood? Were you any better than them when I brought you into my kingdom?
Immediately it was as though the weight of unforgiveness lifted and love began to flow! His incredible outpouring of unconditional love was released in me. That did it for me! I was hooked on his love and forgiveness!
Forgiveness is the best investment you can make for your future and destiny. For as we have forgiven others, forgiveness and grace is heaped back on our plates. It’s time to eat the humble pie of forgiveness. We’ve left a slice in the pan for you! There is something about forgiveness that takes us to the cross one more time to see the bleeding man taking our place and whispering forgiveness to the nail drivers.
Let go of the resentment instead of letting it grow. Ask the God who has forgiven you so much to give you his grace to forgive those who’ve hurt you. The feelings you harbor aren’t hurting them at all, but they’re killing you.
Above all, don’t let Christians make you miss Jesus. Jesus never said, “Follow my followers,” or “Follow my leaders.” He said, “Follow me.” It’s all about Jesus, the One who died for your sins so you wouldn’t have to. It’s ultimately Christ you accept or reject, not Christians. It’s the cross you have to decide about, not the church. And it’s Jesus you will meet when you’ve taken your last breath. All that’s going to matter then – all that really matters now – is what have you done with Jesus? If you’ve never fully given yourself to him as your only hope, don’t let anything or anyone keep you from him one more day!
Your wounds are not a reason to stay away from Jesus. In fact, they’re a reason to run to him. He’s waiting, as he has been for a long time, with arms wide open to love you. Just throw the tree into your bitter waters and watch God make it sweet again!
And yes, for those who may be wondering, our daughter was healed and is alive and well to tell the wonderful story of her miracle today! Thank you, Lord!
Making the Right Choices
The time has come for God to adjust our hearts and open us up to more of who he really is. There is so much more of God to discover, but we have to make the choice to learn from the Master Potter, our Father God. Perhaps the hardest thing to do is where we need to start. What is the hardest thing to do when you’re in a wilderness season? Rejoice. That’s right, to rejoice is a choice we make even when our situations are not the best.
We all want our way. Our preferences would always be to have perfect surroundings with fluffy clouds of peace we could float on and over every painful event. But it is making the choice to rejoice that sets us apart as God’s people. Rejoicing in the midst of difficulty is giving God what he wants: surrendered worship. When a heart refuses to focus on anything but God, we choose to honor him with our praises. We have found in our less-than-trouble-free lives that when we leave our pain behind and turn our faces to Heaven with joy and celebration, our hearts are changed, and eventually, our circumstance will also change. Pain will yield to the praises of abandoned lovers who pour out upon Jesus the sweet praises of our lives.
You can have the right attitude of joy throughout your life, and the secret is found in three words. Can you guess what they might be? Some are convinced the three words are: “retirement has come,” or “finally got married,” or “stocks are up.” The three words that are the beginning of a life of joy are these: Jesus is Lord.
How do we make that work? The truth is, God will use our imperfect circumstances to accomplish his perfect plan for our life. A wilderness and joy have one thing in common – both must be worked out in our hearts. When we can praise our way through pain, we are on the pathway out of the wilderness. It is by leaning upon our beloved that we come up out of the spiritual dryness of a desert-like experience. The Song of Songs 8:5 describes this process: “Who is this coming up from the desert leaning on her lover?” The answer is, it is you. The desert has not defeated you and never will when you make the right choice and adopt a lifestyle of joy in the Lord.
Ask me, and you will receive. My name is Extravagant Giver! I will answer the cry of the tender ones who come before me. Wisdom is waiting to open the door of guidance into your future. Knock on wisdom’s door, and it will open to you! Seek me as a thirsty one seeks water, as a hungry one seeks food. For those who seek me, the great revelation will come – I am easy to find! Keep coming and don’t be fatigued in your praying to me. The Holy Spirit will be given to you in even greater ways when you ask me as your Father. My Kingdom of Beauty is waiting for you to ask, seek, and knock.