#12 Into the Gorge

Oh my word – Mt. Rainier was beautiful to view much of the way from Yakima, Washington, south to the Columbia River Gorge.  First, Rainier was the backdrop of acres of fruit. How appropriate, for as we traveled, we munched on deep red sweet cherries from the area. Never so fresh!

Then Rainier stood white-capped and massive behind green fields of hay; farmers were cutting and raking as we drove on. Soon we discovered corn fields, which we hadn’t seen this far west since Minnesota.

At a later point, we viewed both Mts. Adams and Rainier at the same time. How very beautiful! Their peaks were covered in snow, and it was somehow physically refreshing to look westward toward them, as this day was extremely hot and dry. Eventually, most of the green farmland gave way to hot, dry field and rolling hills,  colorless other than a few small trees that can root in the rock.We stopped high upon a butte to look out over the valley below. Unlike the Wenatchee Valley, this valley was hot and dry and brown, yet it was beautiful. Green fields evidenced ingenuity of the farmers in the area.  It was not my favorite kind of landscape or climate, yet I loved it for God’s people were in the land and worked the land. This land had resources and purpose, just as all His creation does.

Soon we saw an unwelcomed site in this wind-whipped land: smoke. As we neared, we saw the blackened buttes to the east and helicopters dropping bags of water upon the earth below:

We drove past the smoke today, but in days to come smoke from fires such as this would fill the skies around us and traces would penetrate our lungs, as well.

Finally the blue water and green steeps around the Columbia River Gorge came into view. It was a welcomed sight.

We followed the river westward on the Washington side, high upon the edge of the buttes for miles and miles before we descended and crossed the bridge near Hood River. We said goodbye to Washington and hello to Oregon. It seemed a different land – green and cool. But it was still windy  – very windy! 

The next days in the Columbia River Gorge were refreshing – like living in a magical land! 

have you read my other posts from this trip? Click here to Start with #1 – The North Begins at Clare

#10 Mountain-Size Fear

After our perfect day, driving through the Glacier mountains, a fun Alpine lunch with Ron, seeing bear, fox, wolverine, marmots, mountain goat, and deer in their forest and mountain settings, I set the gps to direct us from St. Mary, back around the southeast edge of the park – roads we had not yet traveled – to reach Highway 2 and our RV Camp near Kalispell. Neither Ron nor I had any idea what we were getting into when our “gps Lady” led us to a 12-mile stretch of road, Montana Highway 49, also known as Looking Glass Highway.

I hope to never see that road again!

Sure, Going to the Sun Road” was frightening at times, but this stretch was, well . . . So. Much. Worse.

Traveler / writer of takemytrip.com describes it as “twisty, bumpy, steep, narrow, and generally difficult to drive.”

Yeah, I’d say so.

He further writes that you gain elevation and “it’s one twist after another . . . is crazy dangerous . . . “ with “very little room for error, and no guard rails to protect you in some of the most critical places. Aside from the curves and narrowness, the road itself is in terrible condition . . . potholes and suspension straining dips . . .”

The traveler / writer thinks the spectacular views are worth it. Neither Ron nor I agree.

I’ve borrowed photos from the takemytrip.com website to share with you in this post, as I could not bring myself to hold my phone to take even one pic. In your mind, picture dozens of hairpin curves such as the one in the pic, each with no guard rail, no shoulder, and immense drops. Picture at least one of those hairpin curves with a cross placed on the edge of the mountain, commemorating the loss of life. It was the most stressful 60 minutes (yes, 60 minutes to drive 12 miles) Ron and I have ever spent in a vehicle.

I’d never realized how much I loved the straight, boring lines of Highway 2 across North Dakota until the yellow highlighted route of my Rand McNally Road Atlas began taking on little snake-like patterns. The route became especially frightening when those patterns were accompanied with the triangular markings of mountains nearby. It became a terrifying combination in my mind! Suddenly, every day since that drive on Montana 49, I fight a fear I didn’t know I had: the fear of driving around curves with drop-off edges, often in windy areas, while pulling a travel trailer.  I write this post 13 days and four states after traveling the supposedly beautiful but certainly dreadful Montana Highway 49, and the fear is still very real today, as we travel through an otherwise beautiful location on this lengthy trip we’re taking. 

Do you remember reading about the prophet Elijah?  He was also frightened. The concept of Elijah being fearful puzzled me at first and continued to bewilder me in further study because he was a man who had witnessed the power of God and had performed miracles himself by that power. After all the demonstrations of God’s power, Elijah, nonetheless, was so frightened by the threats of Jezebel that he ran over 100 miles, where he collapsed under a broom tree. He then traveled another forty days and night to a cave at Mt. Horeb, where he hid. Why, I wondered, would a prophet of God be so frightened? Why didn’t he just stand up to Jezebel and proclaim the Word of God to her, as he had proclaimed to so many others? Whatever the reasons, I understood Elijah’s fatigue and fears. I had been raised with fears. My family called it worry. My mother, father, aunts, and uncles had perfected worrying. It wasn’t until later that I realized that worry although sometimes growing from godly concern, was typically nothing but fear. I too was adept at worrying! If my child was out of sight, and I sensed any possibility of danger, my mind could perceive the child dead and buried within seconds!  The slightest fever brought visions of mortal illness and suffering. If there was a place to hide from my fears, I would certainly flee to it.  Like Elijah. And I presume that is exactly what Elijah had done. His fleeing and hiding were all a part of the fear he was experiencing.

Now, it’s easy for us to look at Elijah and question how in the world he would be fearful.

And it might be easy for you to look at me and wonder the same!

One thing I know: Fear is from the enemy, so I need to fight it with the Word of God. When I become fearful, I need to speak the Word. I’ve written about fear in the past, as it’s something I’ve dealt with most of my life, and I’m sure many of you have, too. This is how Jesus has whispered to me about fear in the past. He has told me to guard my heart from fear.

Like He did with Elijah, God has demonstrated His power to me over and over throughout my life. So why do I fear?

Like David, the Psalmist, “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken.” So why do I fear?

The Bible tells me that God has not given me a spirit of fear. Instead, He has given me a spirit of power, and of love, and of a strong mind. I’m going to overcome that fear with power, love, and a strong mind. How? By guarding my heart and my mind. And by speaking the Word of God. Loud enough for the enemy to hear. (Proverbs 4:23, Philippians 4:6,7)

What fear are you fighting? Guard your heart with His Word!

Click here to read the next  travel Post #11 As Far West As We Go on Highway 2 

#8 Trains are Everywhere!

The mountains are calling and I must go.

~ John Muir

July 6

Last night had been one of those nights, traveling RV,  you sometimes plan – or they sometimes just suddenly occur – where you must sleep somewhere other than a designated campsite. If you read yesterday’s post, you know that we suddenly uprooted ourselves from Lewis & Clark State Park in North Dakota and headed west into Montana early in the evening. I looked at the map, of course, and searched my Map app, but the Montana map doesn’t identify Rest Areas quite like our Michigan map does. So, after driving a distance, and uncertain how far the next Rest Area might be, we pulled over to one in Culbertson, Montana, a quiet burg, and yes, there was a train track running behind it! Trains are everywhere in our travels! (See my post, My Pink Earplugs)

Nonetheless, we drove around the small parking area a couple of times to find the most level ground, had our supper, and settled in. It had been hot that day – the day we left Lewis & Clark State Park and had our window replaced in Williston. Very hot. And we were concerned about sleeping in the heat through the night, but these are the times one is thankful for the constant wind of the Northern Plains. In the quiet of the evening, a car occasionally pulled into the rest stop. One semi was parked a short distance away, and an old man slowly got out of a white pickup by the restrooms. I watched as he hobbled, bent, and slow going, emptying trash bins, going in and out of the restrooms, and packing the huge black garbage bags into the bed of his pickup truck. Again, I made assumptions as I observed. Most likely, his social security was  not enough to live on. He either needed the county or state job to make ends meet, or he wanted the job – just to keep those legs and arms nimble. I observed stamina, although I could not truly see the expression on his face. He was a hard-working American, I knew that.

We had entered a different time zone again, and although it was about 10 pm there, it felt like Michigan’s 8 pm to us. Wind whipped our little trailer. I assumed it would simply “rock me to sleep,” and it did, but when I awoke later, the strong wind had decreased, the trailer was still. The pleasant, almost cool, dry breeze passed between the open windows on each side of our bed, and it was refreshing.

When we’re without electricity, I heat water on the gas stove, and Ron makes French Press for us, so our morning routine continues!  We were on the road at 7:30, and it was pleasant driving at 65°. We soon realized why Montana is called Big Sky.  Oh yes, it is. One Big Sky from north to south and from east to west. Small towns dotted the otherwise desolate highway, and each had at least one junkyard. Not only were junkyards found in the stops along the way but also in wayside fields. Cars, tractors, farm machinery – rusting and surrounded with weeds. Run-down homesteads – mostly trailers. Those who lived along this stretch of Highway 2 were not the farmers. The farms were set back – on side roads that seemed unconnected to Highway 2.

Farmers raised one crop: wheat. Both spring and winter wheat were mixed in the fields. It was a whisker wheat, Ron said.

Railroad tracks ran parallel to Highway 2 much of the way. These trains were often pulling oil tankers. 

The Buttes still lined the north and south horizons, but now, they also lined the west – where I was gazing, all throughout the morning, anxious for my first look of the mountains.  The day was overcast. The west horizon was hazy. Finally, it came. Not the buttes, nor plateaus, but the mountains! And we saw them beyond a run-down homestead. But hey, they had a beautiful view of the mountains! America is a land of opportunity!

We entered the small town of Browning. It was not what I expected. Galvanized sided buildings were damaged from neglect. This city on the east side of the beautiful mountain range should be thriving, but it didn’t seem to be. Only the cultural center was beautiful. I saw many first nation people. I felt badly that they live in a broken down atmosphere, one in which their ancestors had flourished.

We entered the southern border of the park on Highway 2 through East Glacier. It was beautiful – even on this overcast day.

If the mountains outside this park are this magnificent, we could only imagine what lay ahead for us tomorrow, when we would enter the park and drive its steeps, its passes, and down into its valleys.

We stopped for lunch at a wayside monument at Marias Pass. The tall cement monument had been built to honor Teddy Roosevelt, but the bronze statue was the key point of this wayside. It was to honor a man named John F. Stevens who had surveyed this land for a railroad, far before any highway crossed it. Interesting indeed, and Ron and I were reminded of all those who came before us in this great land and the tremendous work they completed.

Now, it might just seem a little thing to you, but . . . We stepped into our little trailer to have lunch, and while we ate, it rained. Cars pulled in to the wayside. People stepped out, in the rain, covered with hoodies or ponchos – or not. They read the 4 placards placed at the sight, and they moved on. As a tourist, you tour – rain or shine! But when we finished our lunch and went across the parking lot to read the tributes and observe the train tracks, the rain had stopped. It was just another tidbit of confirmation that we were right where and when God wanted us to be.

Of course, one or two trains passed while we were there! Trains are everywhere in this part of the country!

Click here to read the next post, #9 A Day in the Park

#7 Prairie Grasses Have Purpose and Deep Roots

“In nature we never see anything isolated, but everything in connection with something else which is before it, beside it, under it and over it.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Yes, all of nature is connected and has purpose. A fellow RV’er advised us not to bother driving through North Dakota and Montana – said it was boring with no striking views, but Ron and I like to make the connections. We appreciate it all. (Well, most of it anyway!) The Northern Prairie is remarkable. And even their prairie grasses have purpose.

In the 1920’s and 30’s, evidently the farmers didn’t realize the importance of keeping those grasses throughout their land. They wanted to plant grains such as wheat and oats instead. When drought occurred, as it often does, dust storms blew the agriculture away. The soil was eroded. Until the rains came around 1939 and dryland farming methods were applied, this beautiful land was useless. Families starved. The prairie dust caused breathing illnesses, such as asthma, bronchitis, and silicosis.

(The root system of prairie grass compared to the root system of agriculture.)

What the farmers didn’t realize was that the prairie grasses had tremendous root systems. The soil in which they grew could not erode. The person rooted in Christ is the same. The Bible tells us that if our roots are holy, our branches are, as well. The roots support us.  Jesus said that if a man has no root, he lasts only a short time.  When problems come, the worries of life, and the deceit of wealth (notice that phrase the Lord uses) comes, we’re lost in the winds. We quickly fall away, the Lord teaches in his parable of the sower. Have you seen a person quickly fall away? Or has it happened to you? It happens when we’re not rooted.

Oh, how I need to be rooted in Christ in this world. It’s so easy to fall away, and I don’t want that to happen. The Apostle Paul tells us that “just as we have received Christ Jesus as Lord,” we need to continue to live in him, to be rooted and built up in Him, to be strengthened in our faith as we were taught, and to overflow with thankfulness.

He continues to warn us about those things that will diminish our roots in Christ: deceptive philosophy (we see/hear a lot of that these days) and practices that are based on human tradition rather than on the actual teachings of Christ.

Jesus ends the parable by telling us how our roots can go deep: it’s by hearing the Word and by accepting it.

The winds of these Northern Plains through which Ron and I are traveling are strong. They’ve whipped our trailer as we drive through and rocked it when it’s at a standstill. They blow the papers from our picnic tables and mess my hair every time I step outside. But in doing so, they remind us of the deception the world brings – because of Satan, our enemy – but that we’ll stand just fine in that wind, as long as we’re rooted in Christ Jesus.

Further reading: Mark 4:1-20; Matthew 13:21; Romans 11:16; Colossians 2:7 . . .

Click here to read the next Post, #8 Trains Are Everywhere

#5 America the Beautiful

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. ~ John Muir 

July 4

There seemed no better way to celebrate our freedom in this country than to do just what we were doing – driving wherever we wanted! And we did just that. 

As we drove across this little portion of America, we rejoiced with all the people we observed heading to worship together – the first and primary reason our forefathers came to this country. We smiled as we drove past people picnicking and swimming and celebrating their small town festivals. It was a typical Fourth of July in America but one I think in which people celebrated bigger than ever this year because of the distress of the previous.

Northwestern Minnesota looks much like the northern part of our (Michigan’s) Lower Peninsula. Beautiful. No farms other than hay. Hay for the cattle – both red and black angus here and continuing into North Dakota. 

Shortly, we entered North Dakota, through which we would travel its full distance today to set up camp at a state park near Williston, its westernmost state park before crossing the Montana line. Before our trip began, a fellow RV traveler had advised us not to take Highway 2 through Minnesota and North Dakota – said the land was desolate and didn’t offer any striking views – was boring. But we drove it, anyway, and heard its voice throughout the day. The land itself spoke to us of times past, of hard work, and of perseverance. We  listened.  And because we listened, we also learned. What better day to see this land and hear its stories than the Fourth of July! We were united with the people who lived here – both past and present, and now we had some of their stories to share.

At first, like Minnesota, North Dakota had only fields of hay and cattle grazing throughout pastures near and distant, but further west, the landscape changed. Buttes, lined both the north and south horizons, brushing our trail throughout northwestern North Dakota, still interspersed with grazing cattle but now primarily covered with bright yellow fields of canola. Miles and miles of it – as far as the eye could see, spreading out to the Buttes. , Unlike the native grasses upon which the cattle grazed, the canola was a more recent commodity, and similarly, another commodity,  foreigners in every sense of the word now sprinkled the landscape: oil wells! They were alien-looking structures, metallic and noisy, some large, some small, some with nearby flames on towering pedestals, as though to make a statement of their stature or worth. All in all, they were noticeably odd and contrary to the originality of these Northern Plains. All were surrounded with adjacent storage tanks and gravel trails for the tankers to haul the “harvest” of these fields. It was an unfamiliar sight to us, but commonplace to these parts. Rough, beaten down side roads evidenced the constant wear of oil tankers.

At the end of our long day of driving, the familiar voice of our “lady gps” directed us to turn south from Hwy 2 onto a 16-mile road, toward our destination of Lewis & Clark State Park on Lake Sacakawea. A large semi passed us, stirring up dust on this trodden gravel road. We looked ahead, realizing the entire 16 mile route would be rough, like a washboard, dusty, and battered! Ron’s frustration, which had immediately  reached a boiling point, diminished as we crept along and looked ahead. Soon, we looked down upon the beautiful setting of the park. Towering buttes and rolling hills provided the background for this picturesque setting we drove into – our little piece of North Dakota for the next two nights.

Of course, this park differed from any other we’d been in, but that was good. Today,  in quiet observation and in listening to the voices, we had recognized the value of diversity, if only in landscape and climate. It was a valuable lesson.  From our campsite, we looked at oil wells up in the Buttes, a distance away, their flames visible to us all through the night.

You can view all past posts on this website from the “Home Sweet Home” page!

Click here to read the next Post, #6 Lewis & Clark & Sacajawea, and a man named Josh.

#3 My Pink Earplugs

We packed plenty of warm clothes for this trip to the northwest: jeans, sweaters, flannel shirts, fleece lined hoodies. We’d read of warm mornings at the campsite but cool temps in the mountains. Within the week before the trip, we began to observe different weather reports in the areas we planned to visit: a heat wave was taking place in Oregon, Washington, and Montana! My weather app showed 101° in Havre, Montana, a location where we planned on perching at a Walmart parking lot for the night. Knowing we wouldn’t have overnight electricity for even so much as our little fan, Ron said, “Kathi, find us a campsite in Havre.” The Lord quickly supplied. I made a call and encountered a friendly voice on the other end, just as I had so many times previously, in planning the trip. I’ve discovered a multitude of friendly people across this vast northwest we will be traveling! And I’ve discovered overnight availability when I least expected it.

Due to the expected heat wave we would be driving into, I realized that we just might have to turn on that atrocious AC in that little travel trailer of ours. I refer to it as atrocious because although occasionally necessary, as it very well might be on this journey, I don’t like it. I don’t like the door and windows closed, blocking the fresh air and open view. I don’t like the loud noise of the unit right above our heads, in the middle of our cute little home away from home. But, should high temps prevail at night, although atrocious, it might be a relief. Thus the earplugs.

After learning of the heat wave, hoping to block the sound of AC, I purchased pink earplugs, perfect for a woman’s ear, so they say.

We’re into the fifth day of our trip now, and the nights have cooled just enough that we didn’t need the atrocious AC, but the earplugs did come in handy. Let me explain why.

 Late Friday, we pulled into a small country campground, just past Duluth on Highway 2. It was clean and tidy and offered full hook ups and internet! This is great, we thought. We had just gotten set up when we heard the rumble. We first assumed there was a busy highway behind us which we hadn’t noticed, but the loonngg whistle soon gave it away. Yes, a train track was just a short distance behind the campground. Ron, hopeful, said, “I don’t think the trains will run at night.”

Ha!

In the morning, nearby campers spoke of trains running through every twenty minutes or so. Whistles blew often, they said. All. Through. The. Night. Ron, exhausted from work and driving many hours, had slept through it all. I did, too. But only because of my pink earplugs!

If you attended Sunday School when you were a kid, you might remember singing a song with the lyric, “Be careful little eyes what you see. . .”

The second stanza is similar:

 “Oh, be careful little ears what you hear;

Be careful little ears what you hear;

for the Father up above

is looking down in love,

so be careful little ears what you hear.

It might be a children’s song, but it’s based on teaching from the Bible, so it’s a message for all ages: We must be careful what we hear.

Sometimes we need to wear our pink earplugs.

The Father is “looking down” – not to judge us but to help us. He knows the danger to us if or when we listen to what we should not. He tells us it is a danger that affects our faith.

He’s given us His Word to teach us in order to protect us and in order to bless us. That’s His desire for us. Abundant life. And in that Word, He instructs us of certain things we should not continue to hear. We’re familiar with many of these things: gossip, negativity; however, in my recent studies, I’ve noticed a continual and strong message given throughout the whole Bible  – a warning about some things to which, when we listen, we can gradually and easily become desensitized to the dangers. (The enemy, Satan, just loves it when we become desensitized to those things God desires.)

The Lord tells us not to listen to mediums, sorcerers, and fortune tellers, but He doesn’t stop there. He warns us not to listen to what some people teach – some who claim to be prophets – some who claim to be wise – some who claim to have the answers. He tells us that these people speak ideas of vanity (the importance of self), they speak ideas from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. He says that some of these people claim to teach in the His Name, but He makes it clear – their teaching is not from Him. The Lord did not send them.

Sound familiar today? I see it constantly on social media. It is more than subliminal in movies and television shows. Constant little tidbits of teaching that initially might sound spiritually okay but isn’t. It’s hurting us, and God knows it. He says we must plug our ears to it.

He warns us that our family or close friends might be listening to these tidbits of false teaching. But He says we must not listen to it – even if they encourage it. Wow! This is serious business. The train is rumbling.

Jesus tells us to consider carefully what we hear. Tells us it measures our faith. The Apostle Paul teaches that many people who appear to be Christians actually teach false doctrines and endless controversies instead of doing God’s work. He says they’ve wandered away from the truth to meaningless talk. He instructs the Church to deal with them and to command them to change. It’s important to the Church. It’s important to the Lord. The train whistle is blowing.

It’s God to whom we must listen, and we hear Him in His Word. The closer we listen, the more understanding we will be given. In fact, we’ll just keep receiving more understanding, the Word says. It stands to reason that when we’re listening to falsehoods, the more falsehoods will fill our minds, but when we’re listening to the Word, the more truth will fill us.

We are not under law. God does not force us to listen to Him. But we believers recognize His voice. It is the voice of the Shepherd. And we want to hear Him above other voices.

The rumbling is all around us. The warning signals are given. The train whistle is blowing. I need to use my pink earplugs to block it out.

~~~~~

If you haven’t followed Jesus as Savior yet, click here to learn more about becoming a believer.

Further reading:

Deuteronomy 13:8

Jeremiah 23:16; 27:9, 14

Mark 4:24

Luke 8:18

1 Timothy 1:4

2 Timothy 4:3

Click here to read the next post, #4 Trust the Magic 

#2 Where you go, I will go . . .

My postings throughout this month of July and early August will vary from the typical, as Ron and I take a lengthy adventure. The northwest has called us, and I invite you to come along!

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”

~ Rachel Carson

June 30 – We drove north about 6 hours today, crossing our favorite bridge in the fog.

Spent the night at the little Welcome Center – first right over the bridge. I’ve written about driving north in a recent post. Click here to read it.

July 1 

 This was our true first day: July 1. Day 1. 

We woke to sunny skies; had pancakes on the gas stove and French Press coffee. No electricity needed! Left St. Ignace and drove west on Highway 2 – our main road for the next ten days! Oh how we love the U.P. It was Thursday before the big weekend, and people were pulling campers and boats, yet the roads were not crowded. There’s room for all in the Upper Peninsula, and we relish in it! The birch, whiter than white with deep black veins, catch my eyes as we travel. We are blessed to call Michigan home. I can never get enough of it.

Across this stretch of road in Michigan, a Biden/Harris sign still remains in front of someone’s cute little red ranch home  Dozens of faded Trump 2020 signs and flags, are still posted in yards, and on barns, posts, and vehicles throughout this westward trek. On one wayside saloon, an owner had printed “My _______ governor is a wit wit.” Today, I reached the conclusion that Yoopers in this area are not at all timid!

We paused two times today – first for lunch and rest at a wayside park. Quiet contemplation at that shaded picnic table was my favorite time today. It has become a rarity. Seems I must force myself – think I always need to be accomplishing something. I’m slowly learning that resting and listening to God “is” accomplishing something – something He wants to accomplish!

We paused again late in the day, briefly leaving Highway 2, traveling 20 miles north to see Agate Falls, one we had missed in our 2020 trip north. I wanted to recreate my 3-year-old photo at the base of that falls (I missed it last year – click here to read the post). We walked a viewing boardwalk (was unrewarding) and attempted to hike the deep gorge to the actual base of the falls, but my shoes didn’t quite meet the criteria for such a venture today. Seems a lot has changed in the area in the last 66 years. A placard conveyed that the original 125 steps to the bottom of the falls, on which my daddy obviously carried me at the time, burned in the early 1970’s, along with a motel on the property. Only a treacherous hike could get one to that location today. It’s a hike we’ll once again have to save for the future!

We stayed at an RV site at Northern Waters Casino tonight, a first for us and we were very pleased with this first come, first served opportunity. For only $16, we had electricity, water, and internet connection! Was peaceful, and very likely the quietest night we’ll have on this lengthy trip!

It’s odd – sleeping in this trailer the middle of nowhere, but it doesn’t take long to relax in the quiet darkness of this wooded north, a cool breeze tickling my face with scents of pine and cedar, and the man beside me who inspired the theme of our little “home away from home.”

Click here to read the next post, #3 My Pink Earplugs

A Little Bit of Jesus

Pharoah, the ruler of Egypt – the enemy of the Israelites – detested the words of Moses and Aaron regarding God’s plan for the Israelites. He referred to their words as lies and told his overseers to “Make the work harder for the people so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies.”[1]

You are most likely familiar with the many plagues God put upon Pharoah and the Egyptians to force Pharoah to let the Israelites go – to let them leave slavery in Egypt. After plagues of blood, frogs, gnats, and flies, Pharoah finally agreed to let the Israelites go – but only a certain distance. “I will let you go to offer sacrifices to the Lord your God in the wilderness, but you must not go very far,” he said.[2]

Does our enemy, Satan, set limits on you, as well?

He stirs you to find fault in your Christian leaders. He detests the Word of God they are preaching. Oh, he lets you worship – perhaps pray – a bit – but not too often. You must not go very far, he says.

He doesn’t mind if you go to church, as long as you don’t get “religious.”  Don’t listen to those who speak God’s Word. They speak lies, he says. The message is outdated. It’s not for today. He tells you it’s okay to go to church sometimes, as long as your church time doesn’t conflict with other events.  You must not go very far, he says.

He puts into your mind many faults with God’s plan of giving the tithe or more.  Oh, it’s fine with Satan if you give a small offering to ministry, but he tells you the church doesn’t use the money properly – or you certainly need the money for something more important this week. You can give next week instead. You must not go very far,”he says.

He makes the Christian look foolish – you know – the one who speaks to others about being saved. The one who prays in public. The one who prays with the sick or the grieving. The one who lives and raises his/her family according to the Bible, instead of according to the world. He tells you that you would certainly appear foolish in front of others by revealing your Christian faith.  You’ll appear foolish if you disagree with today’s “norm.” You must not go very far, he says.

He causes you to be totally worn out on Sunday mornings. Your children aren’t obeying your directions to brush their teeth and get dressed. An argument is brewing between you and your spouse. Going to church isn’t worth it. I don’t want to be a hypocrite, you tell yourself. You must not go very far, he says.

I’m familiar with these lies, as the enemy spits them at me quite often. But just as God willed Moses to lead his chosen people out of Egypt, He wills us to leave the burden of slavery to our sin and to follow Him, just as Peter and the other disciples did when they recognized Jesus as Messiah, the one about whom Moses had written.[3] Once we belong to Him, He offers us abundant life.[4] The enemy doesn’t want that abundant life for us; he doesn’t want us to go that far.  He tricks us into thinking we’re just fine with a little bit of Jesus.

I’m not. Are you?

[1] Exodus 5:9

[2] Exodus 8:28, italics added

[3] John 1: 35-51

[4] John 10:10

The enemy is a liar:

 

So she waits . . .

She knows she shouldn’t worry – shouldn’t fear. She reads it, studies it, believes it. She speaks that Word as a reminder to herself. She speaks that Word as prayer.

But the fear is sometimes overpowering, much like its creator, the deceiver, who strips her mind, if only temporarily, of any other options than that of the fear of loss. More loss. The deceiver assaults her, approaching her from his dark hiding place, filling her tired and weary mind with the worst possibilities. She suddenly feels weak – nearly too weak to fight. But she waits.

Her mind composes the worst scenarios. And she fears she has no strength left to go forward, should those possibilities unfold. Certainly she can’t face another. Not long ago, she had felt so strong, but now, oh so suddenly, because she has opened the door to the enemy of fear, she is beaten from hurts of the past. She prays, but the deceiver tells her that her prayers are worthless – boringly rote and hopelessly meaningless. She suspects she’s being deceived, but she’s tired. So she waits.

In her weakened condition, her mind remembers nothing but past pain. As though there have been no victories. She strives to consider God’s faithfulness, but it seems so … very … far away. The fear – the worry – pulls her under water. It’s hard to breathe. She gasps for air. And she waits.

But as she waits, she gains strength. She rests. She eats from the vine and drinks from Living Water.

As she rests and is strengthened, her hope is renewed. She remembers a faithful Father.

As her hope is renewed, she sees the deceiver for who he is. She tells him to leave her presence. He has no place near her. He must obey because he knows of her Father – her faithful Father. And she waits.

And each day, little by little, she gains a greater understanding of “waiting.” When she reads, 

“I waited patiently for the LORD; He inclined to me and heard my cry. He lifted me up from the pit of despair, out of the miry clay; He set my feet upon a rock, and made my footsteps firm,”

she knows that He hears her cry even when it is an inward cry rather than an outward cry. Because He is faithful.

When she reads,

“. . . grace . . . teaches us . . . while we wait,”

she realizes that God’s grace has revealed His faithfulness all the time she has been waiting in despair.

When she reads,

“those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength,”

she knows that she simply needs to give herself a bit of time – time to not jump to conclusions – time to let herself be strengthened – time to let God work things out for her. She learns that most often, waiting means taking time. She learns that He has spoken about the waiting because He knows it will be necessary for her. She is reminded that her Father is faithful. And so she waits.

Psalm 40:1,2
Titus 1:11-13
Isaiah 40:31

~ Kathi Waligora
Author of When Life Roars, Jesus Whispers
and 
Shh! Listen to His Whispers!

I admit it. I wonder . . .

Do you pray – and pray – and pray – and wonder if the Lord is hearing your prayer? And if He is, why He isn’t answering?  

You’ve grown in your faith. You trust in His Word. You believe His promises. But you’re still praying. And wondering. I admit. I am.

You’re not alone.

I’m right there with you.

And David, the Psalmist, whom God loved tremendously, is with us also. He knows grief. He knows distress. He knows waiting.

He comes right out and asks God. I’m asking right along with David:

How long, Lord, before you answer me? It seems like you’re turning your face from me. How long must I struggle with this agony, anxiety, and sorrow in my soul? It seems that the enemy is winning this battle . . . Oh, Lord, turn and look at me and answer me. Give light to my eyes – restore the sparkle I once had. Don’t let my enemy think he has won.

Then, as David does, we too need to recognize God. This is where we must go. This is what we must do. We must respond to our own distress by recognizing who God is. David’s example of recognition is perfect for us, as well:

But, I trust in your unfailing love, Lord God. My heart rejoices in the salvation you have given me and continue to give me. You have been good to me. 

You have been good to me. Oh how this causes me to remember God’s goodness. Over and over. A lifetime of it. He has been good to me.

Now I’m trusting more. He knows me. More than I know my own soul. Now I must strengthen myself in the Word.

I read more about God, learning more about myself, as I do:

 

Lord, You know everything about me. Everything. You know where I am, what I’m doing. You know my thoughts and my words – before I even speak them. You place Your hand of blessing on my head. You are always with me. Always. You’re in front of me and behind me. You hem me in as my Grandmother hemmed each piece of clothing. Securely. Snugly. Safely. If I choose to go up toward the heavens, You are there. If I go down into the depths of the Earth, You are there. If I fly toward the dawn of the morning or toward the farthest oceans, Your hand is there to guide and support me. It’s impossible for me to hide in the darkness. You still see me – because You bring light into my darkness.

There it is my friend – He brings light into my darkness. He brings light into your darkness. Just as He brought light into David’s darkness.

And so I close my eyes and I see His hand of blessing reaching toward me, guiding and supporting me. He places His hand upon my head.

And I am blessed in the waiting. And in His presence.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

From Psalm 13 and Psalm 139

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