It was one of those days. Even though I wasn't tired, I was ready to call it a night. I just didn't feel like doing a devotion.
Grudgingly I threw my Bible on my bed and flipped to where I was reading in Nehemiah. Chapter 9. The same chapter the pastor used in his sermon on Sunday. The same chapter we'd read in small group. In two days I had gone from oblivious to practically an expert on Nehemiah 9; I didn't want to read it yet again. I figured I'd skim it quickly and go to bed. Wrong.
Here's what you need to know: my favorite Bible is held together by purple duct tape. If you drop it, a tree of papers will fall out. The margins notes are numerous. It's in such rough shape that I rarely take it out of my room. But it's in that Bible where all of my sermon notes have been transferred... since sixth grade.
I flipped to Nehemiah 9 and lo and behold sometime in the last ten years (excluding this past Sunday), I heard a sermon on Nehemiah 9. It was at our student worship service a few years back. It wasn't my favorite guest speaker and based on the date and when that would have fallen in the semester, I debated even going that night. I'm glad I did.
In Nehemiah 9, the wall around Jerusalem has already been rebuilt. The people have literally wept upon hearing (and understanding) the Law they have not kept. Now they're confessing their sins and reminding God of how He's been faithful to them through the exodus, the desert, and into the promised land.
It's an exercise I have been encouraged to use myself. Since we're being honest, post-college life is a bit (ok, a lot) like a desert. My days are filled with job searching and rejections. My support system in 900 miles away. I have to constantly remind myself of God's faithfulness. But, as He did not abandon the Israelites many thousand years ago, God has not abandoned me here.
Have I abandoned Him? Not quite. But some days I do my devotion grudgingly; I grit my teeth while praying.
The notes in my margins around Nehemiah 9 say:
How far ahead could they see?Hum.
1. Not very far due to the pillar
2. As far as they needed to see
"You're not ready for the Promised Land if you can't trust Him in the dessert."
Nehemiah 9:21 says, "For forty years You sustained them in the desert; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet become swollen."
I could make a list of things I lack here in the desert of unemployment. But in Matthew 6, Jesus prays for daily bread not daily steak. I have clothes
And still, here I am annoyed that God said, "Not now" to graduate school, disappointed that my ideal job has not been dropped into my lap, and sad visiting my closest friends requires an airplane ticket.
How far ahead can I see? Not very far. But just far enough. Not as far as I would like to see but just as far as God is willing to let me see... for now. As difficult as it is to remember, He sees beyond the pillar. He knows what comes next. As I need to see it, He will reveal it to me. Until then, will I trust Him in the desert?
God, I want to trust You in this desert. But it's hard. I am not ready for the Promised Land. Without Your grace and love, I will never be ready. Prepare me for what lies ahead beyond my vision but not beyond Yours. Let me focus on You and the pillar You have provided to lead me both by day and night. I don't have to enjoy this desert, but I want to be found faithful through it. Thank You for not abandoning me here. I love You. Amen.