This is a statement that I had prepared to read Sunday morning to our church family, but other things took precedence. I typed it instead, cleaned it up a bit, and decided to post it here as well. Just read it out loud, cry all the way through it, and it will be as if I had read it to you myself.
Love to you all,
Lee

Thursday we celebrated Will’s 1st birthday, and naturally we spent some time reflecting back over the events leading up to and following his birth, and through each part of that experience we see God working through you. Even as we take joy in knowing that things worked out the way we wanted, we are also thankful for the difficult times as well. It was in these times, when we didn’t think we could take the next step, that you carried us. We didn’t know how we would handle adversity, but now we know that God is more than able to sustain us, no matter the situation.

I want to take this opportunity first of all to thank you again for the tremendous gift you gave us, but I also want to take a minute to encourage you as well. Just as we were at a low point almost a year ago when Will’s birth parents took him back for a few days, there are members of our body who are at a low point now. I have always taken great comfort from the following words of Moses found in Deuteronomy 8.

“You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. 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, flowing forth in 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 where you will eat food without scarcity, in which you will not lack anything; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you.”

The Wilderness plays an important role throughout the history of God’s people, but maybe nowhere more prominently than in the story of the Exodus. I typically thought of the Wilderness as a punishment for disobedience, but now I am coming to understand that it was more than that. God doesn’t just punish His people, but disciplines them. Everything He does is to teach, to instruct, and to prepare His people for what is to come, and to maintain His relationship with them. The Israelites needed to learn to trust God, to obey Him because He knew what was best for them.

I believe that we are in the Wilderness – we have trusted God to lead us out of slavery, but we are still waiting for the Promised Land. And in the journey God wants to prepare us, to teach us to trust Him. Sometimes that means that we experience loss, heartache or broken relationships. Sometimes we have difficulty with our job or our finances. Sometimes we struggle through an illness, a habit or a sin – whether it is because of something I have done or something that someone has done to me, or even just a random occurrence, God is able to use any circumstance to teach me to trust Him more, knowing that the journey is only temporary, but the reward is eternal.

I was reading about this subject once, and learned more about the Wilderness. Whereas I used to think about the Wilderness as a desert, it seems actually to be full of vegetation and plant life, but only the kind that could sustain you for a short time. It was okay to pass through, but was not suitable for settling down. Knowing this helps me greatly, because I know that when I experience pain or sorrow, it reminds me that this world is not my home, that I haven’t settled down here, but I am on my way to a better place. God gives me all that I need to sustain me for the time that I am here, but there is something much better to come.

As we begin Will’s second year, we are thankful that for all of you who are on this journey with us. We know that no matter what happens, God has given us a family that will gladly share our burdens and our joys. We love you all so much, and just like our love for our children increases each day, so our love for you grows more and more. Thank you for loving us in the amazing way that you have, and know that when Will’s story is told, God will be glorified.

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