Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Strategic Pause

The LORD our God spoke to us at Horeb, "You have stayed at this mountain long enough. Resume your journey and go to the hill country of the Amorites and their neighbors in the Arabah, the hill country, the lowlands, the Negev and the sea coast--to the land of the Caananites and to Lebanon as far as the Euphrates River." -- Deuteronomy 1:6-7

At the end of his life, Moses recounted the Israelites' story. These two verses are the start of that discourse. The moment he mentioned Horeb, the Israelites knew where this was going. As Moses continues this story, we find that God was calling his people to take the promised land, but they disobeyed. As punishment, God told them they would wander in the wilderness, so they disobey him again! "No, no, we'll go now!" but God wouldn't let them. They had already failled their test.

Many of my friends, and even myself, are wondering where God is leading them. When he will tell them to go. I know someone in Spain looking for a secular job so as to better identify with the people there. I also know a seminary student in Michigan who has been looking for a pastorate, yet he still waits. I wonder why God has led Hannah and I to live over 300 miles apart while she finishes school and I work to support us both. Why? When? Where? How? For all of us, we are at Horeb. We are waiting for God to tell us to go. Go into the land that I promised you. Waiting. Waiting. Like the Israelites.

Yet, when God finally said, "You have stayed at this mountain long enough," the Israelites were unprepared for what they were about to encounter. Why? I don't know. What I do know is that I need to be looking for God's direction and trust in Him. I need to be prepared for when God says to me, "You have stayed at this mountain long enough."

At the place where I work we have a phrase for anything that has suddenly been put on hold while we wait for direction from the new administration: strategic pause. God is truly sovereign, so when we find a pause in our lives, waiting for God to move, it really is a strategic pause. It is strategic because God wants to use that time to prepare us for the movement he's planned in our future.

When it seems like our life is paused, we should be anything BUT paused. It is time to trust. Time to prepare ourselves by diving into his word. The Israelites were given time to prepare, but instead their faith wavered. They began trusting in other things, building idols for themselves and bowing down to golden objects. Like the student who skips class all semester, the final exam was a disaster, and they had to live for 40 years, learning a lesson they should have gotten in 40 days.

When God places a strategic pause in your life, take heart. Wait on the Lord. Let the time be used to strengthen your trust in him. Be ready to go when he changes your circumstances and you find that job, or that person, or that thing. Be ready when God says, "You have stayed at this mountain long enough."

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