Confession time again.
Have you ever held onto a promise of God—watching, waiting, wrestling with the time it has taken to fulfill it—and wondered if perhaps you had been wrong to believe it? You reason that God might fulfill this promise for someone else, but what if He’s decided not to do it for you? What if this isn’t part of your blessing?
A part of my heart has been broken for a very long time. Nothing particularly traumatic or extraordinary happened to me to break it. Years ago, I simply made some destructive choices in search of acceptance. Choices that the world offers as commonplace and right, but that God warns will leave their mark. They did.
I had no idea the extent of the damage. Like most of us do, I looked at my life and the progress I’d made with the Lord and thought I was okay.
But God is too good to allow us to settle for okay. After all, His Son was beaten, bled, and hung on a cross to heal what sin’s damage left broken. To restore us. To make us whole.
Still, as much as God has transformed me and poured His grace into my life, in this area, I have not been whole.
And I’ve struggled with God over it.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve cried out to Him in prayer, surrendering this one thing and asking for healing. Yet I remain stuck.
While Living Water flows and empowers so many areas of my life, something has blocked its movement here. This place remains a dry desert.
This week, I revisited Numbers 13. I stood in the desert with Moses and witnessed God sending men from each tribe to explore the land He’d promised to Israel. After forty days, the men returned and reported what they had found.
“We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit.” Numbers 13:27
They found the land exactly as God had promised. They even tasted the fruit available to them there.
“But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large.” Numbers 13:28
So they determined not to even try to claim the land God had promised them.
Listen, dear one. Twelve men entered the land God clearly said He was giving them as an inheritance (verse 1). They all witnessed the same things. They all saw that the land was good, and they all saw the fortified cities and fighting men.
Two of those men focused on the promises of God and received them into their lives. The other ten focused on the obstacles keeping them from attaining it. Those ten, as well as the rest of the Israelites who believed them, never left the desert. That’s where they died.
It struck me that I have had a similar experience to those Israelites. I have witnessed God’s awesome power to deliver and have left the captivity of much of my sin. Now I stand in the desert looking at the promise of wholeness God has placed before me, that He has promised to give me through His Word. I have even tasted the fruit of it as God has graciously allowed breakthrough moments that have shown me what’s possible in Him.
But those moments always fade, and the obstacles loom large once again. Still, I remain in the desert.
I can’t help but ask the question. Why?
I’m not particularly fond of the answer He gave me.
You see, just like those Israelites, I have kept myself in the desert. Part of me clung to its familiarity, even while I cried out to God to deliver me from it.
Somehow along the way, this very part of myself that I hated and cried out to God to restore became a cherished thing. I wanted God to miraculously heal it, but at the same time, I’m recognizing that I didn’t really want to give it up. It defined me. It was familiar. I actually feared the void it might leave if I let go of it. So I didn’t. I asked God to take it, but I wasn’t willing to hand it to Him. I said I was, but I’ve discovered that my heart didn’t agree.
And that was the problem, dear one. Because God will only take what we freely offer Him.
Yesterday, my Scripture reading took me to Mount Moriah. I wept with Abraham as he placed his cherished thing, his beloved son Isaac, on the altar of sacrifice. He didn’t allow the obstacles ahead of him—death itself—to keep him from believing God’s promise to bless him through Isaac. Hebrews 11:19 reveals that he reasoned God could raise him from the dead.
So Abraham placed his son on the altar, fully believing in the goodness of his faithful God. Expecting a miracle, he chose not to withhold his cherished thing.
And God provided a ram in place of Abraham’s offering. God didn’t take, dear one. He gave. And He multiplied Abraham’s offering. Instead of only the one cherished son, Abraham would have “descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore (Genesis 22:17).”
Look at God’s response to His faithful servant.
“I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you . . .” Genesis 22:16-17
What are you withholding from God, dear one, that blocks the flow of His blessing into your life? As I discovered, sometimes the things we’re holding onto aren’t even good things. They’re destructive things. Things we’ve convinced ourselves we need, when actually they are the very things that rob us of the blessing we desire through them.
God doesn’t empty, beloved. He fills. He swears on His own name that He will do it.
“I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld ____________________________ I will surely bless you . . .” Genesis 22:16-17
Will you believe Him?