“And remember your journey from Acacia Grove to Gilgal, when I, the Lord, did everything I could to teach you about my faithfulness. Micah 6:5b
At the beginning of my divorce journey, I distinctly remember a friend telling me to embrace the journey.
I couldn’t grasp what she meant. There in the midst of my pain, she was telling me to hold tight to the most painful experience of my life, to enjoy every step. Why would I want to embrace the journey of adultery? Why would I want to wrap my arms around the journey of divorce?
Now that I’m on the other side, I know why. And, God tells us the same in the above verse when He reminds us to hold onto the journey as He teaches us about His faithfulness in the midst of the pain.
It’s much like the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, and yet God provided. He provided manna every morning and every evening, exactly what they needed to get through the day. Never too much. Never too little. He made sure their shoes and their clothes never wore out… not just for a short period, but for 40 years!
But perhaps even more miraculous than the work God did for the Israelites was the work God did in the Israelites while they wandered in the wilderness. It was a test of their character, to see if they would follow God or abandon Him, to see the true condition of their hearts.
Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. Deuteronomy 8:2
And what did the prophet Micah say after he told the Israelites to remember the journey, the faithfulness of God in the midst of the wilderness?
No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
You see, the journey is about God’s faithfulness and revealing the true condition of our hearts. It’s about learning to see life through God’s eyes, to adopt His perspective. It’s about seeing that He will faithfully provide for our every need, be our constant companion. It’s about learning He never leaves us, never forsakes us. It’s about understanding the depth of His love for us, even in the midst of our sinful condition. It’s about recognizing our own potential for sin so we can fully understand the sacrifice He made so we could be forgiven.
I didn’t understand why I should embrace the journey at the outset. But, now that I’m on the other side, I must say my friend’s advice was the most powerful words of wisdom I ever could have received.
How do we embrace the journey?
Surrender to the journey. I never wanted to walk the painful path of adultery and divorce…and I told God about it! I was so angry, so hurt that God would reward my faithfulness with the pain I was experiencing.
One day, I distinctly remember falling to my knees on the bathroom floor and calling out to God: “Lord, I don’t want this journey, but if this is what you have for me, I will take it. Just don’t let my pain be in vain.”
That was the beginning of surrendering my own will to God’s. That was the first step in allowing God to change me on the journey. That was the first step to seeing the true condition of my heart. That was the first step in learning a new intimacy with my Father.
Look for God’s faithfulness. It’s so easy to get caught up in the pain and miss the small kindnesses God sends our way. Sometimes He provides in big ways like when I received an unexpected donation from someone in Canada that was the exact amount I needed to pay for my daughter’s braces. More often than not, it was the little provisions each and every day.
It was the friendships that were built when I was least expecting it. It was the unexpected bonus that got us through the end of the month when there wasn’t enough money. It was the peace that swept over me in the midst of the chaos. It was watching His forgiveness flow through me when I desperately wanted to hang onto my anger and bitterness. It was successfully getting three kids to three different locations all at the same time. It was exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it…never too much and never too little…just the right amount.
Explore the depths of His love. Have you ever just felt His love wash over you? Have you ever heard His tender whisper telling you how much you are loved? Have you ever experienced this intimacy where you can’t keep a smile from sweeping across your face?
That’s what I found on the journey, a God who loved me and wanted nothing but good for me. I found a God whose love for me was beyond the depths of the ocean, higher than the tallest mountain. I found a God who loved me so much He sent His only son to die so I could live.
On the journey, relish the love He lavishes upon you.
Humble yourself. One of the great gifts on the journey was an understanding of my propensity for sin, of the sinful condition of my heart. It was on the journey I began to realize just who I was without God—and it was not pretty. The journey is where I learned to humble myself.
You see, without the Father I am a mess. I am not worthy of any gifts my Father gives me, including the opportunity to touch lives through my words. It is only because of the journey where my faith was tested that I am able to share with you. It is a humbling experience and an awesome privilege to open my life. But God tells us that if we humble ourselves before Him, He will lift us up in due time. Humility is a gift from the journey.
Wherever you are, whatever journey has been laid in your path, I encourage you to embrace it. I know it hurts. I know it is not what you expected in this life. I know you feel like you are on the verge of utter desolation. I know the grief is overwhelming and you feel as if you can’t keep your head above water.
Embrace the journey. Let God show you His faithfulness. Let Him do a work in your heart and reveal His love and His goodness. Let Him prove your character. One day, you will walk out of the wilderness a changed person.
And you will know it is all about the journey.