Stretched

gumby

Lately I have been feeling a little like Gumby. Not physically, although I really need to get to the gym; I probably can’t even touch my toes anymore. Ha!! I am talking about spiritually. It seems like the Lord just won’t let me get comfortable. Just this week, I got that familiar burning in my chest, coupled with anxiety when a thought popped in my brain that had all the characteristics of coming from the Lord. My immediate response was ABSOLUTELY NOT! No Way! Unfortunately, I am starting to learn that when that’s my knee-jerk reaction, it often means that I will absolutely be doing it. Can any of you relate?

There are many examples of individuals being stretched in Scripture. Aren’t you glad we can read their stories? One of my favorites is Moses. In Exodus 3, he is minding his own business tending sheep out in the wilderness, when he sees a random bush that is on fire but not burning up! Turns out, the bush is none other than Almighty God Himself who begins talking to him. Crazy! Moses has no idea what is ahead of him. He is about to be stretched big time. And his first response was no, nope, no way, yada, yada, yada… I don’t know about you, but I can totally relate to Moses’ response. He gave God about as many excuses as he could, but ultimately, He took on the task of being Israel’s deliverer. And the rest is history.

When I was reading over this story again, I noticed something. In Exodus 7:14, When Moses went before Pharaoh, God told Moses and his brother Aaron 8 times to stretch out their hand so they could perform miracles before Pharaoh, that would show His power ultimately leading to the Israelite’s deliverance. It was God’s power at work, but Moses physically had to stretch his hand out in faith to perform the miracles.

The more Moses stretched out his arm, the more God displayed his power and glory to the Egyptians and the Israelites. He does the same way with us. We stretch outward, but at the same time we stretch upward to Him, because He is our strength. When we step out in faith and allow him to take us out of our comfort zones, He will lead us places we could never go on our own. It’s usually scary and uncomfortable, but at the end of the day, it is always worth it.

And when all was said and done, and God had delivered the Israelites, Moses never forget that it wasn’t by his strength. I’ll leave you with his own words to the LORD after the Exodus.

Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? You stretched out your right hand; the earth swallowed them. Exodus 15:11-12 (ESV)

If the Lord is calling you to stretch out, do it! His power is at work in you! You just have to obey.

Natalie

 

Dry and Desperate

Do you ever feel tired, worn out, dry spiritually? I do. To be honest, I’m feeling a little dry as I type this. There’s nothing dramatic going on; in fact, life is good and full. And yet, I realized this week, that I am kind of drained, and I have started to drift, ever so slowly. You probably wouldn’t notice a thing, but for me, I can already tell a difference. I can hear Him calling my name, beckoning me to spend time with Him, amidst all the noise and chaos of this busy time of year.

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The longer we walk with the Lord, the more ups and downs we experience. Some will be caused by external circumstances, such as tragedy or disappointments, but other times, we find ourselves just drifting away from our Father. It doesn’t have to be a sin issue, although sin definitely puts up barriers in our relationship. Sometimes it can be as simple as busyness, taking our eyes off Him, or trying to do things in our flesh, instead of depending on Him.

Last week, I shared how our loneliness and heartaches can lead to such an intimacy with Him. Sometimes in seasons of blessings it becomes harder to keep that same level of intimacy. Isn’t it ironic? But, once we have tasted a closeness with the LORD God Almighty, nothing else will compare. And after a short time without that intimacy, we will experience an ache in our hearts that only He can fill.

One of my favorite passages of Scripture comes from Exodus 33:12-23. Right before this in Exodus 32, the Israelites messed up big time. While Moses was up on Mt. Sinai receiving the Law from God, the Israelites were down at the camp worshipping a golden calf. If you’ve read the story, you know there were serious consequences. At the beginning of chapter 33, the LORD tells Moses to leave Mt. Sinai and take the people up to the Promised Land. But there’s a catch. The LORD would not go with them. Basically, God was going to follow through with His promise and give them this great land of milk and honey, but He wouldn’t be there. I just love how Moses responds to the LORD in verse 15 (NIV),

If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.

Do you see that? Moses didn’t care about the promise if He didn’t have the LORD with Him. He would rather stay with God in the wilderness than go to the promised land without Him. Can the same be said for us? Would we rather stay in an uncomfortable place with the LORD than go to a land of blessing without Him?

And what’s so cool is that we as New Testament believers HAVE the presence of the living God inside of us through His Holy Spirit. He is with us wherever we go, but we still must choose to nurture the relationship with Him.

Oh, that we would be a people who desire the Lord and not just his blessings. May our hearts break when we realize that we have drifted from Him. May we refuse to move forward when He is not leading us. Perhaps the secret to an intimate relationship with God is being desperate for Him above all else, being willing to sit still at His feet when He calls. And when we humble ourselves and seek Him above all else, even above the good things, we better get ready. The rain’s coming.

Natalie