“Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.” ~ Deuteronomy 8: 2 – 5
I have never hidden the fact that I am naturally very disobedient. It is not that I am proud of this trait because I am not. I admit my short-coming and confess it out loud because I want to acknowledge that there is a need in my life, a part of me that I am trusting God to heal, to perfect and at His appointed time to make whole. I am trusting the Potter to take the lump of clay that I am, and mold me into something beautiful and unrecognisable even to myself. While I am not a finished product, I will admit how remarkable it is to witness my own transformation, even in the past two months alone. I am beginning to see a new me and this process is blessing me with a personal testimony on Ephesians 4: 22 – 24.
I have been on one of the greatest adventures of my life in the time I have been back home, perhaps even greater than the time I spent abroad. God has brought me such clarity about the things He wants for me, the person He wants me to grow into and the company I need to keep for those things to come into fruition. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean everything in my life makes sense all of a sudden and that I’m now living a doubt-free, carefree life because I’m not!
Like Kirk Franklin says in Blessing in the Storm, “some of you would never pray if you didn’t go through something.” Lord knows I probably would have stopped seeking Him if He’d given me all the answers I need all in one go. What’s been wonderful though is just feeling the bond between God and I growing with every “ok I hear you Lord but what do You want me to do with this knowledge” and with every “no I don’t understand why it must be so, please help me understand.”
I’ll admit that in my walk with God I have thrown a lot of tantrums along the way and sometimes plonked myself ceremoniously on the side of the road and refused to carry on until He caved into my demands. Temper tantrums, screaming sessions, spells of defiance, passive aggressive pouts name it and I’ve done it. What did I get from God as a result of these? Absolutely nothing! He has sat and ignored me, as any good parent would and refused to give into my terrorist ways. I do not think anyone likes discipline, I know I don’t but as Proverbs 3: 11 – 12 says: “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” God knew my heart and He knew I needed to be go through a period of rebuke for me to learn some truths, not only about Him but about myself as well. As painful as it was for me to learn this lesson, I now understand how a lot of what I went through, particularly in the past year, was God’s way of disciplining me.
I spent the most of 2011 living in a spiritual wilderness, somewhere I would not have gone voluntarily had I been told that’s what it would be. For months I stumbled around, convinced He had forsaken me until I eventually realised that I was the one that had turned my back on Him. My heart physically hurt every time I thought of Psalm 42:4 because I, like the psalmist, could “Remember as I pour out my soul, how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.” And boy was I mad! I felt so betrayed by God! How could He yank me out of my comfort zone and out of a place where I was so comfortable with His presence and protection only for Him to go dump me all the way across the globe? Why was I now being excluded from the protection of Psalm 91? And what of Romans 8: 38 – 39, why was I the only one that it did not apply to? What would become of the promise He made to me with Jeremiah 29:11? Was my destiny for Him to set the table before my enemies just so they can witness my demise? I praise God though because through all my moments of insanity, through my disobedience and through my period of shunning the Word, I still desired nothing more than to return to His presence. In my heart I still knew that if I just dragged myself back to the altar and lay myself there, He would pick me up battered and broken as I was and make me whole once more.
The road back to my rightful place at my Father’s side has been anything but easy but I am grateful for the journey I have travelled. I remember the peace and joy I felt the moment I walked into church. This was it…this was what I had been yearning for…I was finally home! First few services were an emotional time for me and all I could really do was cry which was a huge deal for me because I’m not much of a crier and especially not a public one. He has done great things in my life, revealed great plans to me and none of this would have been possible without first appreciating Deuteronomy 8:3. I had to be humbled enough to know that I couldn’t live on my own, I couldn’t survive without Him and without His Word.
We all know the story of Job and we pray that after God has put us through some form of suffering that He will not only restore what we had but that He will also bless us far more than before. Part of the reason I was mad at Him for taking me away from His presence was because before I had left He had blessed me with the a direct line of communication with Him through the Bible. I knew that if I asked Him a question or needed guidance on a particular matter, if I opened a Bible the scripture I first lay my eyes on would be His response to me. In my time in my spiritual desert I longed for this more than anything. I eventually gave up on reading the Bible because it seemed every scripture I flipped through was irrelevant. Looking back now I realise that I needed this so I could be blessed with greater spiritual blessings.
I needed time away so that I would be able to recognise His voice when He talks to me. He has shown me what He has destined for me and what a beautiful future this is. None of this would have been possible without Him killing off parts of the old me, breaking down all that was hindering me and showing me what the new me is going to be like and then leading me step by step towards that goal. I wear the scars of the fire and cast of His disclipline with pride because I know, not only am I divinely favoured and loved, but I am being transformed into a better creation.