This morning, I opened Streams in the Desert (the updated version by Jim Reimann). Regular readers of my blog know that this classic devotional by LB Cowman is my favorite of all devotionals I’ve ever used/read. My lovely leather-bound copy is highlighted and has sticky tabs galore. So many times God has used this book to speak truth into my life.
But when I read the August 16th entry this morning, which was completely unmarked, it was as if I’d never read it before. Something I’ve been feeling but hadn’t yet put a name to or completely understood flashed into focus.
Waiting is much more difficult than walking, for waiting requires patience, and patience is a rare virtue. We enjoy knowing that God builds hedges around His people, when we look at the hedge from the aspect of protection. But when we see it growing higher and higher until we can no longer see over it, we wonder if we will ever get out of our little sphere of influence and service, where we feel trapped. Sometimes it is hard for us to understand why we do not have a larger area of service, and it becomes difficult for us to “brighten the corner” where we are. But God has a purpose in all of His delays. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord” (Ps. 37:23 KJV).
Next to this verse, in the margin of his Bible, George Mueller made this note: “And the stops too.” It is a sad mistake for someone to break through God’s hedges. It is a vital principle of the Lord’s guidance for a Christian never to move from the spot where he is sure God has placed him, until the “pillar of cloud” (Ex. 13:21) moves.
Further down in the entry, it says:
It requires much more courage to stand and wait and still not lose heart or lose hope, to submit to the will of God, to give up opportunities for work and leave honors to others, and to be quiet, confident, and rejoicing while the busy multitude goes happily along their way.
Oh, how very true this is.
[Tweet “Must life be considered a failure for someone compelled to stand still?”]
I have felt very hedged-in in one area of my life for a very long time, but I have not looked at it as a good thing. It has been an area of frustration and a reason to second guess myself and to wonder what I have done wrong. Time to remember the lesson I learned about God keeping His promises in unexpected ways. That is the theme, after all, of A Promise Kept which will release at the end of this year. You’d think I wouldn’t need another reminder of this truth, but apparently I did need it.
“… and having done everything, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:13, NASB95)
May I just add that this entry is no longer unmarked. It is highlighted and underlined, notations made, and page tabbed.