The open package sat on our kitchen windowsill, and I couldn’t resist looking through it. Yes, it was addressed to my husband. But I knew what was in it- camping equipment for our upcoming trip. After a disastrous camping season last year that included a biking accident and a COVID cancellation, I was ready. Sandy beaches and sunrises over the ocean called my name, and I could almost hear the waves crashing against the shoreline.
But as my husband went through the items and tested them, he realized one of them was not consistent with its description. Although the shopping site said the back-up camera reached visibility of thirty feet, it came nowhere close, making it unusable for our camper. Disappointed, he put the camera back in the box.
It’s not uncommon to encounter false descriptions with advertising, but have you ever gone through a life chapter where you’ve questioned descriptions of God’s character?
If you grew up in the church like me, you probably heard descriptions of him your entire life. Trustworthy, faithful, loving, everlasting. But once you left the safety of the nest, your own reality forced you to determine whether or not these characteristics were true.
For most of my life, I was afraid to ask these questions. I thought they were off limits. But then I realized even David, who was called a man after God’s own heart, asked hard questions of his Savior:
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.”
God didn’t turn away from David for revealing his heart to him. Instead, he used David’s honest admission to transform it.
For the past several months, my family has walked through weeks of joy paired with overwhelming circumstances. Stresses at my husband’s work have carried over into our home life and although our family is still in tact, I’ve watched as the enemy has worked to destroy the families of loved ones both near and far. I’ve lost sleep and cried out to God, “Please, intervene. Please, help.”
And then, I turn on the news and watch the devastation happening overseas. Our life here looks like bliss in comparison.
Sometimes in moments of quiet and worship, God’s presence comes and fills me with a sense of peace I can’t explain. Other times, I long for the rest of his Spirit.
Like the package that sat on our windowsill, God is teaching me to pay attention to descriptions. But unlike the faulty camera, the descriptions of his character don’t lie. We may go through a wilderness that makes us doubt, but if our foundation is Jesus, our questions will always lead us back to the truth.
This week, my morning reading took me through the temptation of Jesus. Although I’d read this passage many times before, one particular facet stood out to me this time:
The Spirit of God led Jesus into the wilderness.
It wasn’t Satan who led him there. It was God. In the previous passage, we see the Spirit of God rest on Jesus at his baptism and the Father declare he is pleased. Then comes the wilderness, which stands in stark comparison to the skies of heaven opening up in praise.
I don’t know about you, but my time in the wilderness doesn’t usually lead me to conclude that God is pleased with me. As a matter of fact, my conclusion is often the exact opposite.
What did I do, God? Why am I here?
But friends, if I’m going to view abundance and blessings through the filter of God’s love, I must do the same with the wilderness. Trials to not equal the absence of God’s presence. As a matter of fact, they will magnify it.
Here are a few ways God has shown me to shift my perspective:
- Instead of expecting trouble-free sailing, I expect God to be with me no matter what.
- When I catch myself assuming there is only one solution, I recognize I serve a God of limitless solutions.
- Instead of thinking God has abandoned me, I remember God is refining me.
God may lead us into the wilderness, but he will never leave us there or expect us to walk through it alone. As we see with Jesus’ temptation, the angels never left. They were there all along, and they immediately attend to him after he resists the devil.
Friend, he enemy wants to draw your attention inward. To yourself- your shortcomings, your abilities or inabilities, your desires that you think are being overlooked. He wants you to question the description of God you’ve tasted and seen.
Resist him. Turn your focus toward the One who does not change like the shifting shadows. His Word does not lie, and his character will stand firm against any test.
If you need to shift your focus from disappointment and worry and see what God is already doing in your life, I encourage you to pick of a copy of my book, Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God. I talk more about those seasons when it doesn’t seem as though God hears us, and how to see that he is working, even when we life doesn’t look the way we anticipated. Many people have sent me messages saying it is a timely book for this season. This encourages my heart so much. I pray that God continues to use it to touch lives.
Here’s what one reader said:
“Shift has been an absolute encouraging and engaging read. Abby has a gift for finding the fingerprints of God in the happenings of life. And not only does she find them, but Abby helps you start to see them in your own. It was a blessing for my heart and a balm for my soul. I look forward to processing even more deeply. I discovered there is freedom in letting go of my control and letting my heart give in to the God who stays with me, permanently because He loves me and has plans for me. Plans that may not match my goals but are so much better.
Read with a highlighter and a note pad because you are going to make notes as you go.” – Kelly B.
You can pick up a copy of Shift by clicking the image below.
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