TODAY IN HIS WORD COMES FROM
Josh 3:2-4 (NKJV)
So it was, after three days, that the officers went through the camp;
and they commanded the people, saying, "When you see the ark of the covenant
of the Lord your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out
from your place and go after it. Yet there shall be a space between you and it,
about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know
the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before."
THOUGHT TO PONDER:
Something I have noticed during my walk with God is that it seems like EVERYTIME God is about to bring you into something new-- it will be in a way you have never gone before. And if you are not careful you will run right out in front of Him. And from experience I can tell you that when this happens, God will not take another step forward until you are ready to get back in step with Him.
INSIGHT INTO HIS WORD:
Almost three years ago from the time I am writing this, I was sitting in my car in a church parking lot, not too far from the house, looking in the rearview mirror contemplating where to go. You see I had just lost my job and was praying and seeking wisdom from God. The place I was at is where I like to go periodically when I need quiet time to think but isn’t as far away from the house as my “special prayer place” is.
There is a lot more to this story I will share in a different page on our website, but for now I will summarize some of the events so that I can focus on what I consider to be part of God’s divine direction. After I lost my job, it came about in amazing ways for me to be established in a furnished office and setup doing private bookkeeping-- and working for myself again in a matter of days.
For three and a half months, temp work kept coming in; I was staying really busy and I was convinced God had put me in that office, doing what I was doing. But I could never get full-time assignments. It was just one temporary assignment after another. Then it started slowing down until several months later I came to a complete standstill! I couldn’t go this way, I couldn’t go that way, and I sure didn’t want to go backward, but there was no going forward either. In fact every time I would start to pray, the term “standstill” was what I kept coming back to. I kept praying and asking God for clarity. I knew He had led me to it -- I knew He had put me there -- but I didn’t understand so I kept asking Him what the “standstill” I had come to was all about.
Then over and over again, everywhere I turned, every time I read anything including sermons and devotionals everything kept coming back to “health” and “healing.” I started reading about healing and health. Also Jeremiah 33 started becoming a major Scripture reference. Someone was always quoting something from Jeremiah 33, so one morning I decided to slowly, and with openness, read Jeremiah 33. What startled me was verse 6: “But then I will bring health and healing to the people there.”
One evening I was listening to a sermon podcast while I was working on some things. I was listening but not real intently. The sermon was about Paul’s imprisonment in his own home for two years. The pastor was talking about how active Paul had been, and that his primary objective before this imprisonment had been starting and planting new churches, so it must have been quite something for Paul when God had brought him to this standstill in his life.
As you can guess, this got my attention very quickly! Now I was listening very intently. In fact I rewound it just to hear those words over again! Yes, the pastor really said Paul had come to a standstill in his life! God had brought him to a point where he couldn’t just keep going and going. But what others might have viewed, and had even intended, as an imprisonment God was using for good. It gave Paul much needed time for rest and to physically heal. It also gave Paul time to write four of our New Testament books that may not have been written had Paul not had the downtime his imprisonment had given him.
Immediately, I was brought to conviction! I knew what my standstill and downtime was about. A few years earlier I had started the rough drafts to The Very Heart of Worship and one other. But for many reasons I was forced to put them down, then aside, and after awhile completely out of mind!
I spent several days in prayer about this and the whole “cypress” thing. I asked for wisdom, understanding and most of all clarity! It started becoming clear. God had brought to me and given me the name “Cypress” and I added bookkeeping to it and ran with it! God got me an office, gave me divine guidance, and even gave me a name, but then I went racing with it. I realized then that God was trying to do something totally NEW in my life, but I was trying to turn it into something I was familiar with. I was trying to take the leading and direction God was giving me and turn it into something I could do!
I quickly began to have a new appreciation for Joshua 3:1-5: Early the next morning Joshua and all the Israelites left Acacia. They traveled to the Jordan River and camped there before crossing it. After three days the officers went through the camp and gave orders to the people; When you see the priests and Levites carrying the Ark of the Agreement with the LORD your God, leave where you are and follow it. That way you will know which way to go since you have never been here before. But do not follow too closely. Stay about a thousand yards behind the Ark. Then Joshua told the people “Make yourselves holy, because tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.”
There are several lessons here I hope you are learning and grasping. Also, I hope that in sharing my story, it will help you to have confidence in the fact that (1) God does give us divine guidance, and (2) When God is ready, He will take you someplace completely new! But I also hope that in sharing my story with you, you will learn from my mistake in following too closely so you don’t wind up in front of God, and then detouring from what it is He is trying to do.
Just like the Israelites, I had never been this way before so I needed to focus on God. Yet Joshua told the people: don’t get too far away from the ark, but don’t get too close either. I understand both reasons now. I guess hindsight really is 20/20. If we don’t stay focused on God and we get too far behind, we run the risk of getting distracted and losing our way completely. But, on the other hand, if we follow too closely, we run the risk of running out ahead of Him trying to do it our way and then we realize we’ve missed a step or even a turn!
PRAYING IN FAITH: Father God, thank You for the experiences You have given me that I may share with this reader and others. Lord, I pray that as my friend here comes to know You more, that they also will have a journey to repeat as testimony for You. Thank You for Your promise that if we will stay focused with our eyes to You, that You will lead us and make our paths straight and light the darkness so that we may follow You. Once again, Lord, thank You for this time in Your Word. I also continue to pray for this dear reader, and ask that You will lead them and guide them on the path You have for them. I ask You, Lord, to shed Your light on them so that they may see what steps to take.
In Christ Jesus’ name I pray,