Christian writers · Family · freedom · God · prayer · signs · thinking · writing for children

What is your “Egypt”?

Studying the Old Testament is not always the easiest thing to do. The Lord knows my heart and that I don’t always “get” what He’s trying to tell me. I have to read, read, and read again. Even then, it’s not always clear.

And from what I can tell, I’m not the only one. When God spoke through His prophets, he repeated himself again, and again, and again so His people would get the message. The passage that illustrates this point today is Jeremiah 42.

The Isrealites ask a prophet to pray for them and ask for God’s direction. They say they’ll do whatever He tells them.

God’s answer (paraphrased) — “Stay put in the land I’ve put you. I’m on your side and you have nothing to be afraid of, even though you are living smack dab in the middle of the enemy’s territory. It’s not where you wanted to be, but I put you there and I’ll protect you. I’ve heard your prayer and I’ll deliver you to where you want to go — in my time. But don’t say you want to go back to Egypt. You’ll die there. I’ll bring calamity on you. Again, do as I say and you’ll be blessed. Stick it out and do what I’ve said. You’ve romanticized where you used to be. But I’ve made it clear — DO NOT GO BACK TO EGYPT.”

(I repeat the above is my paraphrase… Read Jeremiah 42 for the actual wordage!)

So, after reading that passage several times, I asked God what He wanted ME to get out of it. I know what he was telling the Israelites. He repeats it more than 3 times in those verses.

God told the Israelites to NOT go back to Egypt — a physical place of perceived and romanticized comfort and ease. The truth is, they’d been slaves in Egypt, but all they remembered was what they wanted to remember — and were tempted to go back to the place God had saved them from. But what did it mean for me?

What in the world could he be telling me?

The exact same thing He was telling them…

Don’t go back to Egypt. 

If I run to places that God has not told me to go – whether they be physical, emotional, spiritual- they are my “Egypt”.

What is yours?

Do you return to old habits that God has freed you from?

Do you run to old relationships that brought “comfort” for a while… but didn’t bring life?

They are your “Egypt”.

When I’m upset, who do I run to? What do I run to? Where does my mind wander when things aren’t going my way? How about you? If it is anywhere other than God — That is an “Egypt”.

When I’m frustrated and angry, do I air my grievances to others before taking them to the throne? Do I try to find comfort in the world’s view of me and get its approval? How about you? That is an “Egypt”.

When I’m in a place of peace and abundance, do I forget where that peace came from and attribute it to some other source? Friends? Money? Status? Good things happening?  Do I forget to praise God in the good times? Or when I have what I need, but not what I want, do I long for something that is not in God’s plan for me? Do you? If so — we’re running away from God and running toward our “Egypt”.

Do you lay awake at night and worry about things, instead of taking them to God – and leaving those cares with Him? Yup… Egypt.

Do you try to manipulate situations so you get what you want, instead of allowing God to work things out in HIS time? That’s an Egypt, too.

I truly believe that true peace, God’s Shalom, can only be found in Him, regardless of my status in life. But does that mean that I am 100% faithful and never turn my eyes to my “Egypt” instead of Him? Nope. Too many times I’ve run back to old ways of thinking/old habits. But running backwards is not way to win the race. Paul slaps down some truth about this very thing in Philippians 3:12-14 (The Message version):

I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

That means there’s no time to be running back to Egypt… and no reason to. So why do we keep doing it? Too often we turn back to the things that we used to find comfort in, conveniently forgetting that it is a “right now” comfort, not the “right” comfort.

There is an old Hymn that’s called. Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. I  had only heard the chorus, but there is more to it. Take note of the second verse and third verse.  If we believe those words to be true, we can rest assured that we don’t need to run back to our “Egypts”.

Here are the lyrics:

  1. O soul, are you weary and troubled?
    No light in the darkness you see?
    There’s light for a look at the Savior,
    And life more abundant and free!

    • Refrain:
      Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
      Look full in His wonderful face,
      And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
      In the light of His glory and grace.
  2. Through death into life everlasting
    He passed, and we follow Him there;
    O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
    For more than conqu’rors we are!
  3. His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
    Believe Him, and all will be well:
    Then go to a world that is dying,
    His perfect salvation to tell!

 

But Jesus is THE comforter. He is THE Healer. He is THE Provider. He is THE Author and Finisher of our faith.

So what are your Egypts? What do you need to leave behind so you can run forward in your faith?

 

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freedom · God · Hiking · Hiking LInville Gorge · Hiking NC · Jesus · life · Linville Gorge · love · prayer · writing for children

Mountain Top

(courtesy of morguefile.com)

We all like to get to the  top of the mountain. We love the exhiliration of reaching the goal, feeling the refreshing wind on our face and knowing we are “there”! 

But it’s easy to forget about the climb that came before we reached the peak.

If you’ve followed my blog at all, you know that my family and I have been hiking quite a bit this year. Most of the hikes have been in the mountains of NC and TN. Some hikes were easy, no effort needed. Some were hard, but worth the trip. Then there were the hikes that left me breathless and almost positive I was going to die right there on the side of the mountain.

Life is like that, too.

There are paths we take that are easy. Not much effort required. We just plod along taking in the scenery and keeping our distance from anything that seems to be too consuming.

There are paths that are hard. They make us think. They require our concentration more than usual. The paths are not as neat as we’d like – but we still make it to the end of the journey with all our brain-cells intact.

And then…there are the paths we take that leave us wondering if we’ll make it out alive.

Those are the paths that can take us higher and draw us closer to where we need to be…or can bury us in our tracks.

And the way I see things, the outcome all depends on who we have with us on our journey.

When my hubby and I hiked Linville Gorge, I thought I was going to have to spend the night in the gorge and wait for a helicopter to come scoop me out. Really, I crumpled in a heap and wept. Then, in a fit of self-pity, I said to my hubby, “Go ahead – I’ll catch up. I just have to rest for a while.”

Did he go on without me?

Nope.

Matter of fact, I think he was a little insulted that I even suggest it. “Are you crazy?” he asked. “You don’t EVER leave your hiking partner. Period. So you can just get that out of your mind.” Then he waited for me, encouraged me and helped me up.

See where I’m going with this?

God has said, “I will NEVER leave you NOR forsake you.”

If God is our hiking guide AND hiking partner on this journey of life, then we KNOW He’ll never leave us behind. He doesn’t grow tired and give up on us. He doesn’t leave us on the trail to rot in our misery. He lifts us up and carries us.

Looking back, I can honestly say I was ecstatic when Sean and I finally climbed out of Linville Gorge. Granted, I was a little too tired to do a backflip, but I could BREATHE again! But as happy as that moment was, I don’t ever want to forget how hard the climb was. If I do, I’ll also forget the lovingkindness I was shown by my hubby during the struggle.

And if I forget the struggles and hard climbs in other parts of my life, I’ll forget the lovingkindness shown by my faithful Father.

Have you had any climbs that were just as memorable as the mountaintop? If so, I’d love to hear about them. If you are struggling up a mountain right now, I pray your journey is a fruitful one. And when you reach the top, I pray you remember the blessings you received along the way!

God · nature · nature photography · sunsets · writing for children

A bit o’ photography

I’ve been doing a bit of songwriting tonight. It feels good. The words and melody came together for my latest. I only have the first verse and part of the chorus, but it’s getting there.

What are you writing? If you aren’t writing anything right now, how about some photographic writing prompts? Here are some pics I took over the last two weekends.earlier sunset

sunset by God...photo by Donna :)
sunsets by God...photos by Donna 🙂
I don't know why, but this looked like a good shot. :)
I don't know why, but this looked like a good shot. 🙂 (photo by Donna)
a giggle away keeps the doctor away....(photo by Donna)
a giggle away keeps the doctor away....(photo by Donna)
fasting · fasting from the inside out · God · love · prayer · thinking

Praying from the inside out…

http://fromtheinsideout.us/

My mom sent me this link. I finally checked it out. WOWZERS. Gave me a lot to think about. If you get a chance, take a look at it…then come back and share what you think about it. If the Lord spoke anything to your spirit while you read it, I’d love to hear that, too!

I’ll share mine after I’ve heard from a few of you. I’m learning to wait my turn! 🙂