Tuesday, 11 December 2018

C Columns

Where is God? You're in the Desert But Not Alone

By RM Drury

Are there ever times when you wonder if God is listening to you? Are there times when you wonder if God really cares about you or if He has perhaps forgotten about you?

Matthew 3:16, 17; 4:1

Picture this…Jesus has just been baptized. A holy dove descends on Him to proclaim Him as the Son of God. Folks are in awe of what just happened. They are stunned, amazed. The Messiah they have been waiting for has been announced. Jesus is ready to begin his ministry.

But wait — what does God do? God just said, “This is my Son whom I love. With Him I am well pleased.”

Matthew 3:17

And then…He sends Jesus into the wilderness to undergo loneliness, hunger, hardship and, to top it off, temptation. Don’t you find it interesting that the way the Father chose to show love to His Son at the beginning of His ministry was to put him in the desert? Why did He do that? I think it was so that at the critical beginning of this most important time in history, Jesus would learn to depend on the Father, and the Father alone — and I don't believe for a moment that God was not there with His Son the whole time.

Perhaps one of the reasons God places each of us in a desert of some kind now and then is so that we will learn to depend on Him in new ways. So that we will learn to depend on Him and Him only. So that we will turn to Him for answers, guidance, comfort or strength because we have no place else to turn.

Deserts come in different forms: sadness, loneliness, depression, financial....and on and on.

When you are in the desert, and we all are there sometimes, be assured God is there too. He is listening. He has not forgotten you. He does care about you, for He says, “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” (Isaiah 49:16)

Jesus' nail-pierced hands are symbolized here. Jesus and what He did at the cross is proof of God's love and care. I heard somewhere that God says “I will be with you” 365 times in the Bible. I don't know this for a fact, but if it's true, isn’t it so like God that He would speak those words one time for each day of the year?

Here’s one — no, two — “for this day” found in Isaiah 43:1-5:

“But now, this is what the Lord says — He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel; 'Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in My sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you'...”

Here's an idea to help you remember that even when you are in the desert, you are engraved in the palm of His holy hands and you are not alone. This idea may sound silly, (you can do it when no one is around) but oftentimes a visual reminder goes a long way toward making something unforgettable. Here's all you need, just 3 easy things:

1. A piece of paper – any kind

2. A writing implement – any kind

3. Scissors

Here's what you are going to do: Trace your hand on the piece of paper, cut out your hand shape, then write your name in the palm of the hand cut out. Keep that hand in a spot where you see it often.

You can write the references on it too, if you want: Isaiah 49:16 and Isaiah 43:1-5.

When you look at the hand, you can know that this is a promise of God to us His chosen people, His loved ones: “In the desert, I will be with you.”

When I had a preschool class, every year we did a Kissing Hand project based on the book titled “The Kissing Hand” written by Audrey Penn. I would have the parents trace and cut out their hand and send it in to me with a handwritten note to their child and a family photo. I laminated all the sheets and made a Kissing Hand book. When a child was having a particularly hard day missing Mom or Dad, I would pull out the book, read the parents' note to the child while they placed their hand on top of Mom or Dad's paper hand. Some days students kept their hand there for a very long time, but it never failed to help them through the day.

Children have deserts too — scary dreams, monsters in the closet, fears of all kinds. This idea can help a struggling child as well. After talking through the idea behind the hand cut out and actually making the project with your child, tuck that hand under his or her pillow at night. They can tuck their own hand under the pillow as well and perhaps they will feel better resting their hand in God's hand.

Everyone — big people and little people — spends some time in the desert now and then. It's good to know we are not there alone.

Roxanne Drury is a wife, mother, grandmother and retired Christian preschool teacher with a Certificate of Achievement in Early Childhood Education from Moorpark College. She is a former insurance executive and trainer. She has served the Lord for over 40 years in a church setting in many capacities, with most of her time spent in children’s ministry. Her heart is sharing God’s Word and its life application through her blog at thatslifemissroxanne.blogspot.com.

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