“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.”
During a recent hike through the mountains of North Carolina I saw a mama bear and her cub, two deer, a family of turkeys, a chipmunk and several butterflies dressed in vibrant cornflower blue with black trim. I felt like Snow White walking through the forest in a Disney movie! The animals were not afraid of me, seemingly at home with humans, although the mama bear did “bark” while protecting her cub, charging a few feet as I passed them on the trail.
The whole journey was a trust test. God brought me to an unknown place with strange creatures where I was all alone and VULNERABLE; a place where I literally walked by faith. Joshua 1:3 says, “Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses.” This is what God said to me through His Spirit, “Take a hike, Marlene. Up to the highest heights I want you to follow Me. Trust that I am good and faithful and will bring you into the land I promised you.” To be honest, trust is difficult for me, even though God is perfectly trustworthy. Of course, God wanted me to come face to face with my sin of distrust so He brought me up a mountain. An out-of shape body, and a three mile rocky trail with a twenty-percent incline separated me from the outlook. (Can you feel the sweat pouring down your back?) But God brought me to a broken place where I had to press into Him for strength, guidance and forgiveness. Three times I doubted and asked for a sign. Each time He gave me butterflies. Not the kind in your stomach but real, vibrant, blue and black butterflies that swept in from the forest and flitted up the trail saying, “Yes, you heard right, Marlene. Keep going. God is with you.” Amazing.
Just now, the realization that God is my mama bear occurred to me. He stands guard, protecting me, especially when I am vulnerable! The truth is, God HAS secured our victory. Our part is to “set our foot.” Joshua still had to engage in battle but with a huge advantage; Joshua already knew the outcome because he believed God, therefore he had courage and strength, and was not afraid or overwhelmed. Because He had faith he fought from a position of victory.
Unfortunately, this is a struggle. The territory God has proclaimed victory over in my life are things like fear of rejection and using my gifts (like writing) in a public setting. I hesitate to set my foot here because the transparent way He calls me to write makes me feel vulnerable. However, I know in my heart the biggest barrier is actually unbelief. Unlike Joshua, I march out in obedience but not fully trusting God will secure the victory. This, I have recently learned, is saying that God is neither good nor sovereign. Like Judah in Joshua 15:63 I have been unable to drive out the enemy, taking the territory God has secured, because of fear and unbelief. Mark 6:5-6 describes it perfectly, “And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their unbelief…”
No doubt, in the area of creativity and writing God has given me marching orders. For too long I have not been secure in the reality that, though I am just like that bear cub, vulnerable and helpless, I have a “Mama Bear” who will ensure my victory wherever He leads. I know that doesn’t mean I will not be rejected but it does mean that whatever He tells me to do will be for His glory and will have an eternal impact, resulting in a deeper intimacy than before. That in itself is worth the risk. And yet, it is not a risk to trust God, is it? His promise is to equip the called, just like He did for Joseph and Moses and Gideon and Joshua and Esther and David…just like He does for you and for me.
Like dumping water on a campfire, unbelief not only squelches the beauty and warmth God intends to extend to others but it chokes out God’s power with the smoke of faithlessness. God told Joshua, “Wherever you set your foot, I will give you victory.” My foot-setting is not writing a book. My foot-setting is allowing God to conquer and expel my fear of rejection by believing Him through the action of taking a risk in an area where I will most likely be rejected! And, He desires for me to be okay with that because Christ is my all in all. The (unseen) reality is that the dreaded defeat is all in my head. The enemy has planted spies in the form of lies to subvert God’s best. Will I choose to listen to these enemies of God or expose them as traitors, rejecting them by setting my foot on their neck? What is it in your life that is causing you to doubt God’s goodness and sovereignty? We all have our marching orders; We have been equipped. The victory is the Lord’s!
“We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ…”
2 Corinthians 10:5