New Jersey Year Two: A Walk Through the Wilderness
And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, called you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the Lord your God chastens you. Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper. When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the Good land which He has given you." - Deuteronomy 8:2-10I don't remember the moment that the Lord first gave me these verses, however, I have read through them multiple times since then and every single time I do, I am comforted.
The past year of my life has been a challenging one. After getting settled here in New Jersey, I believe the Lord finally revealed to me why it is that He moved me here: healing and sanctification.
When I first moved here, I would not have been able to tell you what God had planned. Truthfully, I can't even comprehend it all now. I was unaware of how many lies had seeped into my mind and shaped the way I viewed myself, my circumstances, the people and the world around me. God had to get my attention.
It is hard to believe that it has been a over year since my panic attacks started. I feel like it was a life time ago, and in some ways, it was.
The Lord leads us through our testings.
Every time the number forty is mentioned in the Bible, it is referred to in a time of testing or judgement. This is what the children of Israel were going through in this portion of scripture: a time of judgement for their doubt of the promises of God and a time of testing and humbling.
How often, I wonder, were they tempted to go to the promise land without the leading of the Lord? They knew where it was because the spies had been there. It was only eleven days away, it would be easy for them to lead the way themselves. But they were called to stay, for forty years, in this test, in the wilderness, learning to lean on God and be led by God.
For me, I was tempted to run away from the problem. Going back to "Egypt" sounded great because it was what I knew, but that wasn't what God had for me. Once I finally surrendered to the fact that this season was in fact a season God wanted me in, it made it easier to let Him lead me through and do the work that He wanted to.
He feeds us what is important: His Word.
The biggest lesson for me in this season of wilderness is learning how true His word is. As I alluded to earlier, I never knew how many lies I had believed. When you believe something to be true, it really effects how you live your life. I was living as if the lies were truth and living as if the truth were lies.
It has been a challenge to identify and separate the lies from the truth, especially as they are engrained in my thinking processes. But it has been fruitful. In realizing the lies, I realize the truth - I realize who God really is and who I really am.
I am learning how to really live on the Word of God. When I face a lie or the enemy, I am learning to ask, "what does the Word of God say about this?" and "who does God say that I am?".
This was my season of healing.
The promise of the Promised Land.
The final part of these verses talks about the good land which the Lord is bringing the Israelites into. This was my promise. That the wilderness doesn't last forever. That there are lessons to be learned in the wilderness, but there is a promised land waiting for me.
As I study this portion of scripture, I found myself wandering to an article on a Jewish website that explained what some the specific things mentioned here represent.
Wheat = kindness
Barley = restraint
Figs = endurance
Olive Oil = foundation of life
As I read and studied this it struck me how the promised land - the land overflowing with these items and lacking nothing - paralleled the fruits of the Spirit.
When we make it through the wilderness, learning to lean on the Word of God and be led by God
Himself, we come into a land where the Holy Spirit is flowing through us, and we bear fruit.
This is my season of sanctification.
I am by no means through the trial that I am in. The Lord is still teaching me. But I am excited. I have hope. I can look back with confidence and say that the Lord is working and moving and making me into the woman that He created me to be. Though it has been one of the hardest seasons of my life, I am thankful for it for He truly is making me into a new creation in Him.