As I write, winter rains have finally arrived in earnest, here in the Galilee. And though few areas of israel experience truly cold weather, we are bundled up in our apartments, enjoying a soaking rainfall so desperately needed.
While the meteorological winds bring shifts in season, geopolitical winds bring shifts in the climate of nations. Without question, we are living in times of shifting relationship among countries. One example is the recent thaw between Israel and Saudi Arabia. “Who’d a thunk it?”
Along with these shifts, as if feeling the early tremors of an approaching earthquake, our own psyche absorbs and responds to change in varied manifestations. We’ve been wired with numerous physical-emotional sensors that signal new data impacting our lives. That new data could be as distant as a natural disaster or war we see on the internet. Or it could be as close and personal as a family crisis.
Are you sensing a shift in the world, in your spiritual community, in your own life? I am. It may be the logical consequence of reaching a major life milestone. I’ve hit the big “Seven-Oh.” Like modern Israel, I was born in 1948. So in 2018 we both celebrate seventy years. In addition, there are substantial shifts going on in my ministry roles. While I’m still a pioneer at heart, this season is more about mentoring, coaching, fathering.
It’s a good shift. I’m liking this season. At the same time it’s weird. There are unanswered questions, occasional uncertainty and unfamiliar territory relationally. Where is the Lord in all of this? Where am I in the process of His design for me? And how can I give myself fully to His Majesty, the Pierced One?
Our patriarchs provide pertinent patterns:
MOSES: “Where are you, God?”
In the remote wilderness, Moses’ God spoke to him from a burning bush. In the Exodus description, the shepherd Moses “turned aside … (to see) why the bush does not burn.” He was not expecting a divine encounter. The Lord proceeded to strike up a conversation, informing the future deliverer of his assignment to free all Israel from slavery. Moses asked God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and … bring the children of Israel, out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11). God’s answer sounds indirect: “I will certainly be with you” (Exodus 3:12). But it answers Moses’ unstated question: “Where are YOU gonna be in all of this, Lord?”
This is my question in a shifting season: “Lord, where are you? I need you right here next to me. I don’t always feel your nearness. My insecurities are leaking out. Help!”
This is the very moment God waits for. He undoubtedly steered the interview with Moses to this very revelation. So often in Scripture His servants faced intimidating situations. His standard reply is one I need to hear when I’m asking (with desperation), “Where ARE you, Lord?” God said then, and He says now, “Here I am. I am with you. Fear not. I will be with you.”
JOSEPH: “Where am I?”
An innocent man, imprisoned for years on end, Joseph must have wondered, “Will this ever end. Where am I? How could this have happened? What are you trying to do to me, Lord?”
The answer would not come before delay after delay wrought a steel-like character within Jacob’s rejected son. He could not possibly have foreseen the outcome. Yet he somehow trusted the process he was being taken through. Knowing that our Designer has a sure design, a fine-tuned purpose for our life, makes a huge difference in uncertain times.
Early in my walk with Yeshua, I was introduced to this lasting wisdom from Solomon: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5). As the seasons of life and history shift, I’d best not lean on my understanding. But I can return to the Lord and ask, “Where do you see me in relation to the destiny you have for me? What is this season about? How can I cooperate with your hands as the Potter shaping my life?”
ABARAHAM: “Here I am.”
“Here I am.” These are the words Abraham said to God just before the Lord instructed him to sacrifice his son as a burnt offering. This is a level of surrender to which I honestly cannot relate. That wasn’t all. Then, Abraham repeated the same words to Isaac, before his son asked him where they would find the lamb to slaughter. By this time my insides are quivering, even as I write this 4000 years later, knowing that Isaac was rescued and didn’t have to become a burnt offering!
I believe there’s a profound and practical message here for me and for you. Over and over, men and women of God have responded to bewildering, overwhelming, shifting circumstances by surrendering all to the Master of Life, by trusting the God Who Sees all (Genesis 16:13). After all, we ourselves quite obviously see only a very small part of the total picture. I think of Esther, of David, of Paul the Apostle.
When I feel unsafe and off balance, that’s the very time to turn toward my God with a wide open heart. It is the time to renew my awareness that He is the Potter and I am His clay. It is the time to come before Him with radical listening. “Here I am, Lord,” as young Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears” (1 Samuel 3:10).
Here, there is power amidst our weakness. Here, there is peace in the storm of season’s change. Yeshua bids me to return to Him with fresh surrender. Standing still, we will see Him. Discerning where we are in our journey, we will gain wisdom. Surrendering before His sovereign love, we will rise to meet the winds of change.