It’s Not Quite What I Expected

ust because you face unexpected challenges, it doesn’t mean his promises failed. The promise remains but it will not be released until you walk forward.

Here’s an encouraging word for those who have stepped into a new venture with the Lord.

Bible Reference: Numbers 13-14. Israel crosses over to the promised land. The nation soon realises it’s not quite what they expected, and they fall into discouragement.

Just because you face unexpected challenges, it doesn’t mean the land where God has planted you is not your promised land.

The children of Israel didn’t lay down their preconceived ideas of what life in their promised land would be like. As a result, they lost several battles. If we want to avoid the same fate, we must lay down preconceived ideas of what the spiritual landscape will look like when we cross our own Jordans. When we fix our eyes on God’s perspective of our new land and trust in his promises, we will overcome. Humility is the key as we lay down our right to be right. So often, we base expectations of what the promised land will look like through past experiences, wishful daydreams, and assumptions. We, as finite beings, can’t possibly fathom how God will bring things about for his glory but oh how we love to speculate!

What does this look like in practical terms? Perhaps God led you to a new city. Upon your arrival, everything falls apart. You can’t find housing; your old home doesn’t sell as fast as you had hoped. You lose your job within weeks of your arrival; a ministry opportunity differs from what you expected. If you are a pastor, you lose half your flock during your first few months at your new church. The board of elders lays the blame squarely at your feet.

You have some choices to make. When facing obstacles, you can believe the lie that if God calls you to do something, then everything will fall into place quickly. You can believe the lie that the Egyptians were right; God abandoned you once you severed all ties to your former support system, or you can take God at his word. ‘Trust your unknown future to a known God.’ (Corrie Ten Boom)

Perhaps you believed the lie that your spiritual promised land would look different from where you just left. When I crossed over the border between Alberta and Montana for the first time as a child, I was deeply disappointed. Montana looked the same as the prairies of Southern Alberta. I expected Montana to have palm trees; I expected it to look like the Californian landscape shown me on television! Much to my disillusionment, the only visible differences I could see between Alberta and Montana were the road signs and the dull American money. No one we came across had a Southern drawl either. They sounded exactly like us.

I had choices to make. I could trust my parent’s promise they gave me when we started our road trip. Although the terrain might look familiar, it still held the potential of a grand adventure if I had eyes to see. It was up to me. I could allow my disappointment to fester into disillusionment and have a miserable two week holiday or I could seek the good. I sought the good. As a result, I had a delightful time. I found something new and exciting every day even if it was a simple as reading a Cereal box written only in English. That was quite a novelty for a Canadian child who was used to all things bilingual.

You have a choice. Believe God led you into the new territory you face, even when it appears that nothing has changed. If not, you will find yourself trapped in an endless loop of comparison between your present life and your former situation. You can search for the ‘new every morning’, or you can slip into doldrums of ‘nothing changed, why should I bother?’

No matter what your spiritual landscape looks like today, you DID step across that border. Allow God to train you in the ways of battle by being obedient to his directions and one day you will take full possession of the land he gave you. God trains us through practical experience. We won‘t gain the skills needed to conquer our new territory just by reading a book or listening to a sermon by someone who entered the land before us. Every battle we face, no matter how mundane, gives us the opportunity to stay teachable and trusting. No matter the outcome of each battle, we will emerge from it with a new skill set if we stay humble.

Joshua 1:3 – “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.”

Take this promise to heart as you step out! The promise lies in the land before you, but it will not be released until you follow him, step by step. Walk forward today.

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All Bible verses attributed to the ESV version unless otherwise indicated.

Until Next Week

2019 Katherine Walden

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