I’ve been observing the season of Lent since I was in my early twenties. Each year before the season begins I consider what God is calling me to do. Many of my sweet friends are led to fast in the same way each year, but not me. Each Lenten season usually brings some new observance, and last year was a doozie. It’s the second day of Lent… I’m sitting here with the ashes of last night’s worship still on my forehead and I’m reminded of the lessons I learned last year.
Sometime last January I began to seek God about what He might be calling me to do during the 46 days of Lent. As the first thought came to mind, I was a little dumbfounded. This action He was calling me to take was just plain “out there” even for me. And then the questions begin flooding my brain. How in the world does someone as busy as me give up their mode of transportation? How would I get from point A to point B? What would people think? How would my family react to this one? The logistics of it were overwhelming. I was like the kid who’s scared to jump off the diving board. One minute I think I can move forward and take the plunge, the next I’m backing up and shaking my head no. Finally, in Gideon like fashion, I set out a fleece so to speak. This was my response to the crazy going on inside me.
“If this one is you God…the car will sell and my husband will be supportive of this fast.”
As Ash Wednesday came and went I decided this must be one of my own ideas and breathed a little sigh of relief.
Standing at the ironing board Sunday morning, he says, “I am going to have to find you that Jeep you’ve been wanting and fast.” My car, which had been listed for some time now with not even so much as a interested caller, had not just one, but THREE buyers interested. Like, we’re coming to buy the car today interested.
I told him he could take his time looking for a new vehicle. It would be fine for a while. He gave me the look. The one he gives when he’s wondering what I’m really saying. I think he already knew the answer but he asked anyway, “Like how long is a while?”
A grin spread across my face when I told him I thought it would be about six weeks. Bless my husband, he smiles back and that was that. The car sells the next day and the fast I thought was not going to happen is happening. I didn’t have time to plan for it, no time to back up and change my mind. I put out my fleece and God answered. The next forty days would be something to remember and the first lesson was already in the books.
Lesson number one–when God calls us to do something. He will make a way.
I figure some of you are considering my sanity at this point, and believe me I was too. It’s the reason I prayed the Gideon prayer in the first place. Sometimes what I think God is calling me to do might not be Him at all. I’m not willing to believe every thought I have is God speaking to me. The scriptures are clear about the conditions of our own hearts, and seeking confirmation before taking the next step is a good thing.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”–Jeremiah 17: 9-10
In my reading of Exodus I see similar things happening. God confirming through plague after plague it was time to leave the land. His miraculous power leaving no doubt their prayers for deliverance were answered. Just when they thought they were home free, the Egyptians follow intent on returning a nation of slaves to captivity. Moses and the people find themselves in a predicament. Egyptians on one side… the Red Sea on the other. They could not imagine how God would make a way in this and honestly I would have been right there with them. In my wildest of dreams I would have never imagined a sea splitting in two… they couldn’t either. The entire nation became one hot mess of terror. They cried out in fear against Moses, “Did you bring us here to die!”
Moses responds a lot like the parent of a fearful child at this point. “Don’t be afraid, stand up and calm down… be quiet.” Sometimes we must do the same when we are waiting for God to make a way in desperate times. I wonder what might happen if in the midst of seeking God’s way we chose faith instead of fear… standing instead of running… silence instead of noise?
You probably know the rest of the story. God made a way for His people that day… an impossible way. A way they never even dreamed about. Who would ever imagined walking through a sea on dry ground? That first Sunday in Lent, when I suddenly found myself without wheels for the first time since I was sixteen, I asked myself one question.
Do I believe if God calls me to something, He will make a way?
I can say I believe more than I did last year, but I’m still learning. It is so easy to get caught up in the fear and chaos of a desperate moment. It seems like a natural response and before you know it you’re like one of those Israelite slaves. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can choose to move forward in faith… to stand in the midst of a trial and face it head on… to quiet our hearts and minds to the revealing of His way.
And when we do, we find ourselves walking through seas… on dry ground.