Middle school. BLECH. Worst years of my life. And not just because of my pimple-laden forehead. My dad committed suicide right as I was entering that confusing pubescent time of my life when I would try to discover my identity. With a crumbled foundation, I entered middle school so incredibly lost, alone, and with major daddy issues. My heart yearned for a leader to help me define my identity and set me on a path of happiness. But instead of God, I unfortunately found leaders in the kids around me who made bad choices, yet seemed to be so happy. I had no idea they were miserable like me with their own issues, also seeking someone or something to fill that void in their hearts.
And guess what? Middle schoolers aren’t the only ones with God-shaped holes in their hearts. They aren’t the only ones filling their lives with things in pursuit of happiness, yet staying completely unfulfilled. Do you know someone who’s seeking happiness through other people and relationships, through material and earthly goods, through jobs and activities, or through alcohol and substance abuse? Believe it or not, nothing on earth can provide the peace, joy and contentment we all seek. That God-shaped hole can only be filled by God.
In Exodus when the Israelites fled captivity and went through the wilderness, scripture later says God’s chosen people “wandered” (Numbers 14:33). Let’s clear something up. They may have wandered, but it wasn’t aimless. They needed to take the scenic route.
The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. Exodus 13:21
God led them all the way from Egypt to the promised land. It took a lot longer than the Israelites wanted, but they were led the entire way. With shade in the day and warmth at night, they followed God who provided manna and quail in hunger, and water in thirst. Even through complaints and whining, God provided as He led. And today He continues to do that for all His children, who still often complain and whine.
God is a perfect leader who goes before us (Deuteronomy 31:8), makes the rough places smooth (Isaiah 45:2), directs and guides. He goes first. But do I place Him first? Do I allow Him to go before me and make my rough places smooth? Or do I place myself first and try to make my own path? In preparing to write this post, I pondered how I’ve been led. I discovered that any difficulties I had in being led by God was really just difficulties in following Him. And the other thing I discovered? Sometimes following Him means a season in the wilderness that God prepared for me (Revelation 12:6). Sometimes we are so distracted by our desperation to get to our promised land as fast as possible, we don’t realize we aren’t ready for it because we are still dependent upon us, still filling ourselves with stuff, and not completely filling that God-shaped hole with Him. Sometimes He needs us to take an introspective scenic route. We may not like what we see, but we need to see it so He can work some stuff out in us. Just like the ancient Israelites, God needs to work the slave mentality out of us so we can truly be free.
But I get it. Following Him is HARD. It’s hard because in addition to total surrender, faith, trust, obedience and humility, sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s Him, what’s us or what’s Satan.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27
Here’s the key. The more time spent with God, the easier it is to hear His whisper. Take time to feed your spirits with scripture (Psalm 119:105), biblical truths, worship, and speaking with Him.
Following Christ takes courage and isn’t always easy. But take heart. He’s with you, loves you, and is for you. Earnestly ask Him to help you follow, and He will.
You are what God says that you are! You are enough!
Want More? Learn more about hearing God’s voice. Check out this wonderful four part message series. https://www.churchofthehighlands.com/media/message/preparing-to-hear
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Vicky Cullison is a full-time wife, a full-time mother, a full-time creative project manager and most importantly a full-time lover and follower of Jesus. She’s also a full-time food lover, a full-time animal petter and a full-time encourager. When not doing these things, she attempts to write stuff. Click here to read her Breath on Paper Bio.