I am somewhere between point A and point B. In transition. A moving of the heart from Egypt to new land.
But instead of shuffling through a scorching desert, it feels like I’m stumbling through a dense forest. A cloud by day to guide me will do me no good. I cannot see the sky. A pillar of fire by night will only set the timber ablaze.
My eyes are straining for a mere ray of sunlight instead. Son light to assure me that I am not lost. That I haven’t moved so far out on a limb of hope and faith to be in foolhardy territory.
I feel God asking me to put some distance between the things that only seek to enslave me.
With one hand — open and let go of the things of past;
and with the other — open and wait to receive the things of new.
It is in this season of waiting that I am stretched.
Ann Voskamp wrote last week: “It takes incredible courage to wait on God in what feels like a wrong place… It takes courage to listen with our whole heart to the tick of God’s timing, rather than march to the loud beat of our fears.”
In the deep forest, my fears attempt to set the pace of my footfalls with their persistent beat. If I hasten my journey, they promise, I’ll find a short cut.
But I’m no stranger to that suggestion. It only leads back to the uncomfortably comfortable.
Still, my fears do not hush. They do not fall silent amidst the pine needles on the forest floor.
What if God isn’t in this timberland?
What if I’m off course — can’t see the forest for the trees — and I’m only deceiving myself?
What if instead of slowing down to what I think is His pace, I’m actually supposed to be straining, striving, and sprinting ahead?
What if I don’t see sunlight again for a very, very long time?
And then I see.
I see a soft ray of Light filtering through the leaves. Filtering through nearly 3000 years of trees, trials, and transitions.
The Word of God never grows dim as it passes through the branches of time.
By way of the prophet Zephaniah in 640 AD, God confirms His presence to those who seek Him in the scorching deserts, dense forests, rushing rivers, and shadowed valleys.
For the LORD your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With His love, He will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17, NLT
“For the LORD your God is living among you.”
He is not absence or remote; Jehovah is with us and around us.
He is not standing away from us; Yahweh is beside us.
He is not hands-off, but hands on us, eyes on us.
He is not resting on the sidelines of our lives; He is present in the middle of us.
Let us not be deceived into believing that the heart breaking, lives breaking, families breaking, countries breaking is a sign that He has abandoned us. He has not.
“Be sure of this,” He says. “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The LORD our God is in heaven above, on the earth below, and living among us in the very midst of our brokenness.
“He is a mighty savior.”
Who is this God who walks beside us? He is the King of glory. He is the LORD strong and mighty. He is mightier than the thunder and the seas.
He does not merely have the strength to frustrate and annoy evil, He promises to shatter our enemy and vindicate us with His might.
He does not just have some degree of power; He is absolute and majestic in power. There is nothing that overwhelms Him. Nothing is too hard for Him.
He has not been given the title “most likely to succeed.” Instead, the NASB translation says He is a “victorious warrior.” When Jesus physically walked among us He said “I have overcome…” Not “perhaps I will overcome” or “down the road I hope to overcome.” The victory has already been achieved.
And as a result, we can take heart. The One who walks beside us is mighty to save those who humble themselves.
“He will take delight in you with gladness.”
He takes delight in us! “Great delight” according to the NIV translation.
He finds joy in us. “Joyful delight” per the ISV translation.
Not in our achievement,
“perfectly” executed tasks,
successfully “completed” to do lists,
clean houses, clean desks, or clean lives.
His delight is not in what we do; it is in who we are when we find ourselves in Him.
We can find rest for our souls in Him,
for His delight is in our smile,
and in our laughter,
in our child tickling and newborn rocking,
ice cream licking and watermelon seed spitting,
boat paddling and water splish-splashing,
cake baking, candle blowing, and gift giving,
“The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” It is our reverence, rest, and trust—not our accomplishments—that delights the mighty God who is with us.
“With His love, He will calm all your fears.”
When we know that we walk with a mighty Savior who delights in us, we can begin to confidently reach out and turn down the volume on our fears. The ESV translation says “He will quiet you by His love.” Our fears no longer have to be the ear-piercing, soul-piercing voices in our heads.
The world says to us:
“Do more. Earn more. Achieve more.
And then you will find the quiet and love you seek.”
Father God says to us:
“Toss more. Throw more. Cast more of your
fears, anxieties, and concerns on to My plate.
And you will find quiet rest in Me.”
Fear change? Take heart. You are being changed into a new creation, clothed in righteousness, transformed by none less than the God who loves us.
Fear failing? Come to Him. You are fully known and fully loved. Your success or failure makes no difference in your standing as a child of the King. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Fear the future? Rest in Him. Let your soul find rest in the love of the Alpha and Omega. The same God who started your story already knows the end of your story – and what a victorious ending it is for those who call Him “mighty Savior.”
“He will rejoice over you with singing.”
Our God humming, whistling, singing?
Surprise! In fact, that’s exactly how He leads the prisoners to freedom—with singing!
But He doesn’t stop there. The NLT translations says, “He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
God as a song writer, really?
Do we really think our God has no rhythm in His feet, no poetry in His head, no melody in His heart? O us of little imagination.
Some of the most beautiful passages in His love letter to us are songs: the freedom song from Moses, the many songs from David, the precious song from Mary, the new song throughout Revelation.
Our Savior will write songs about us—songs with our new names.
Yahweh will whistle a tune—a tune to encourage us as He walks with us.
Jehovah will hum a melody—a melody that brings us peace in the valleys and in the shadows.
The LORD will sing over us—with a voice no words can even begin to describe.
Even though I am in transition from point A to point I-don’t-have-a-clue, I do know this:
The Almighty One is with me.
He saves me.
He delights in me.
He quiets me.
He sings over me.
He is Faithful & True and worth following through any desert, any forest, any storm, any transition.