Present For The Journey

My husband and I love funny videos. Not necessarily the videos on America’s Funniest Videos (although some of those are funny, too), but more of the random videos shared on Facebook that go viral, or the ridiculous memes on Instagram, and then we laugh until we cry. And then we cry some more. I know, we’re such *crazy* millennials! If I were to show you our texting conversations, you would see a large portion of texts that say “watch this,” with a link right next to it. Most of the time it’s about someone doing something incredibly ridiculous. And if it’s of someone doing something super embarrassing, I get embarrassed right there with them. FROM A PHONE SCREEN. Ugh, why do I care so much!

But have you ever watched the video where someone is *clearly* about to do something that is let’s say….not-a-good-choice, and all you can do is roll your eyes and be like “WHY? Why would someone do that?” I won’t name specifics, but we’ve all seen the videos. And we all get that feeling of “I can’t stop laughing, but what in the world is wrong with people?!”

I’ve felt like that many times when reading about the people in the Bible. Especially when I read about the Israelites in the Old Testament. The Israelites were God’s chosen people, a people He had set apart and had set free from slavery from the Egyptians. We read about them seeing first hand the miracles of God through the plagues (Exodus, chapters 6-12), and when God split the Red Sea (Exodus 14) so they could begin their journey to the land God had promised them. And then we see the Israelites question God and pursue their own ways over and over again (Exodus 16:1-3, 17:1-7….just to name a couple of the many) . We see them worshipping a golden statue when Moses is on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments (Exodus 32). Wasn’t he was gone for like 5 minutes (not really, but still)?! Talk about getting mad at people for their choices! We can’t help but think, “How can you continue to do choose your sin over God after you have seen Him move in such miraculous ways?” And yet, we continue to see God’s faithfulness, love, compassion, and forgiveness towards His covenant people because He is a covenant God (Psalm 78:21-28). And the more we read about the Israelites, the more we see we are just like them. Because we are all people; we are all sinful – and prior to choosing Jesus as our Savior, when we were given two options of choosing God’s way or our way, we chose our way…every time (Romans 3:23-24).

I had a moment like this recently. Except I wasn’t mad at someone in a video. I was angry with myself. Let me step back. For about six months, I was in an incredibly difficult season; in fact, it was by far – the most difficult season of my life. It felt like I was walking through fire at every turn, and my head was barely above water for months on end. On top of that, it felt like God was completely silent – ignoring my pain.

And then I felt Him moving in my life again and He spoke. And what He spoke changed everything. If you’re ever wondering, “Was that God?” and everything changes within you – rest assured, it was Him. My joy came back. Peace returned. Life was literally in my bones. Friends began sending me texts that kindly shared they were happy to see me smiling again.

And then one of those days shortly after came. Every fear, worry and concern returned, and the tears followed. Because that’s what the enemy does: He is literally on the prowl and only has one mission: to steal, kill and destroy anything and everything in your life (John 10:10). And I immediately became angry at myself while also thinking God was angry at me, too. Because not only does the Devil want to mess with you, He want to mess with how you view your Creator.

In my mind, surely God was thinking, “How many times do I have to speak to you, Anna for you to be at peace? How many times do I have to encourage you to make it? Haven’t you already seen and experienced what I have already done for you?” Needless to say, my faith was on empty, and I felt like a complete failure when it came to trusting in the Lord.

Later that day, I attended a church service in other state where Nathan was speaking. During the worship time, still wrestling with the same thing, a pastor who knew nothing of my story and honestly anything about my life asked to pray for me. I said sure. He immediately began praying for everything that I was experiencing, even down to the specifics of my heart and life circumstances. And in those moments, I quickly realized three things:

God, you’re not angry with me.

You haven’t forgotten about me.

You’re present for this journey. 

The journey of highs and lows. The journey of good days and bad days. The journey where my joy is obvious to everyone around me, and the times where my pain becomes incredibly overwhelming. Because God’s love is unconditional, we can know and trust because of His Word that not only is He here to stay, He is present through it all. He doesn’t love us any more when we are on a spiritual high, and then pull back his love, care, and concern when we are experiencing a spiritual low.

A while ago, I shared that sometimes we go through things that reveal a new element of His character that we hadn’t seen so clearly before. In this moment, I saw His kindness like never before. He didn’t have to use that pastor to speak to me after He had already spoken. But He did. Because He knew I was hurting, and He knew I needed to experience Him all over again. Because we aren’t meant to receive a touch from God, live like that was enough only to return when we feel on empty. He wants to be present for the entire journey. He is crying with you. He is rejoicing with you. He is near, and he is PRESENT.

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Romans 9:38-39  – The promise we have in His love: β€œFor I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels or rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (ESV)

John 14:15-17  – The promise we have in the Holy Spirit as followers/believers in Christ: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him for he dwells with you and will be in you.” (ESV)

Romans 5:1-5 – The promise we have in our darkest days: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (ESV)

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“Jesus, thank you for your sacrifice on the cross so that I can live in the fullness of life, even on my darkest days. Thank you for your faithfulness in every season of my life. God, thank for not separating me from your love, and for never leaving me. Holy Spirit, thank you dwelling inside of me and for being my Helper. Help me to press into you when my faith feels low, instead of doubting your promises and pushing myself further from you. Thank you for being present during this journey, and for walking this with me.”

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