Never in my whole life did I aspire to be an entrepreneur. To be honest, I’m not even sure if I ran a lemonade stand when I was a kid, which just proves how lacking in entrepreneurial desires I am. Here I am, though, running a business that my husband and I started ourselves with names and titles and resources that we made up. (Is it normal to be 44 years old and feel like I’m pretending to be an adult?)
Life is kind of funny sometimes. Ephesians 3:20 describes God as one who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. I would have never asked to start a ministry from scratch. In fact, I have spent a fair amount of time and energy asking the Lord if I could just fold in to someone else’s ministry. There are people out there doing similar things. Wouldn’t it be more efficient to join up with them? Do you ever get the feeling that God is not concerned with efficiency in the same way we are? Or maybe he just knows that the direct route rarely works out like we think it will.
Do you ever get the feeling that God is not concerned
with efficiency in the same way we are?
Have you heard the story about the Israelites being radically freed from slavery and then marched right up to the doors of the promised land? When they got there, did they say, “Awesome! Just what I’ve always wanted. Let’s do this”? No. They freaked out. You can hardly blame them, though. After 400 years of slavery in a pagan culture, it makes sense that they were not incredibly confident in the strength or love of the Lord.
So God took them on the circuitous route. On one hand, it’s natural to feel kind of bad for them. Wandering in the desert for 40 years feels like a harsh consequence when compared to the land flowing with milk and honey that was originally offered. In reality, though, God does some of his best work in the desert. Hosea 2:14 says “But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there” (NLT). The desert was an opportunity for God to reveal himself to His people without all the distractions that come with property ownership. They were wooed by God’s miraculous presence for 40 years. The next generation was raised on a steady diet of God’s guidance and provision instead of the slavery mentality that their parents were raised on. Who wouldn’t love that?
God does some of his best work in the desert.
The circuitous route that God takes us on will likely lead us through desert seasons. Often these seasons are not as obvious as it was for the Israelites. It is more of an internal journey than an external one. My personal “wilderness wanderings” of the last couple years have been dry in a lot of ways. I’ve despaired and doubted and complained just like the Israelites did. I probably even built a golden calf or two. Yet I am beginning to suspect that God did not take me into the desert to punish me. He was using the lonely times to draw me to His love and show me how He wants to provide for my every need, even ones I wouldn’t have considered asking of Him. He was building my faith as well as my character and my confidence. As I find myself walking out of the desert, I am noticing a growing gratitude in my heart for what God has done. Our ministry does not look quite like we expected at the beginning. It keeps taking shape as we follow God into the opportunities He places in front of us. Sometimes I’m afraid, but sometimes I can trust that He really does satisfy my desires with good things (Psalm 103:5). That is a seed he planted in the desert.
He was using the lonely times to draw me to His love and show me how He wants to provide for my every need, even ones I wouldn’t have considered asking of Him…That is a seed he planted in the desert.
Thank you, God, for the circuitous route.