Over the horizon you gaze at The Promised Land. As the sun stretches across this little piece of Heaven, what do you see? It’s okay to look. Drink in the vista. Can you see the trees and vines laden with fruit? And the dark soil, rich with nutrients—anticipating its next crop? Can you sense the honey flirting with your tongue, sweet and reminiscent of summer? Can you hear the streams gurgle as lakes sparkle in the sun? Beautiful.
Envision your Promise Land. What does it look like? What dream has God planted in your heart and nurtured into desire? For most of us, “land” is more metaphorical—a career, a ministry, a family, etc. But for some “a new land” is quite literal—a relocation, a foreign mission field, or military service.
My “Promised Land” is a new ministry/career. But when God planted the dream to publish…let’s just say, I found myself sitting with my trash can between my knees trying to dislodge the “You’ve got to be kidding me” from my throat. Ever been there? I have taken this detour several times recently. However, once I recovered, I preceded to pour out my fears, concerns, and reservations. I was wholeheartedly willing to step our in faith, but this is a whole new world for me. And I was terrified!
But God (don’t you love that phrase) graciously responded by leading me to Deuteronomy. I had never studied this book in its entirety before, and as I dug deeply into His messages to the Israelites I realized these messages were for me—for us.
Deuteronomy 1:1-4, NIV
These are the words Moses spoke to all Israel in the wilderness east of the Jordan—that is, in the Arabah—opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth and Dizahab. (It takes eleven days to go from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea by the Mount Seir road.) In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses proclaimed to the Israelites all that the LORD had commanded him concerning them. This was after he had defeated Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon, and at Edrei had defeated Og king of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth.
I love how God led these people to this deep barren valley before leading them across the Jordan. He sharply contrasted the physical realities of their present location and The Promised Land to illustrate their present spiritual condition—and ours—to where He would like to take them—and us.
It’s here He chose to offer them a priceless gift: a time of reflection, restoration, and dedication. He also provided them with the opportunity to realign their hearts, minds, and focus with His before becoming overwhelmed and distracted by all the challenges that go along with conquering a new land.
I shudder to think of what would have happened if they scorned this opportunity and rejected His gift; if they’d chosen to slosh their way through the Jordan instead of waiting to walk across on dry land (Josh 3:1-18).
Before we enter our personal Promised Land, God also brings us to a barren land—void of distractions and with our dreams just out of reach. Here He presents us with the same gift and opportunity. And like the Israelites, we must choose to follow Him with complete obedience or to turn back. Don’t resent this season. It’s not a delay in your progress, it’s a precious opportunity to reflect on all that Jesus has done for you. It’s also a time to take an honest account of the condition of our heart and make adjustments where necessary. Because, the truth is, when we reject God’s gift of restoration and disregard the opportunity to realign our hearts and minds with His—we are no better than the generation that died in the wilderness.
Beloved, seize this opportunity to learn from the consequences of their repeated rebellion and unbelief. You may not get another chance.
And just in case you’re wondering if it’s all worth it…take another look over the horizon.
Journal exercise: Reflect on everything Jesus has done for you. Write it down. Ask Him to reveal any adjustment that you need to make your heart realign with His. Then read it and give Him the thanks and praise He deserves.