Are You In the Wilderness?

Jen’s Gem: Look up!

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my daughter’s pet fishes and how each of them like to mess with us by laying on the bottom of the tank, “playing dead.” I’m sorry to say that one of them is no longer playing. While my daughter and I were away for a little R&R, my son called to tell me that there was one less fish in the house.

Interestingly, it was not the one I thought would go first, the one I wrote about. The stronger, more active one decided to upend our last day of vacation by ‘biting the gravel.’ I returned home with strict orders from my daughter not to flush him down the toilet. I didn’t.
It was an unexpected loss but the Covello Clan has moved on. Time has healed the wound and life continues with its ebb and flow, its highs and lows. The wilderness of mourning has been left behind and we look to the future.

Three years ago this month, I was in this wilderness with the loss of my father, among other trials. The news of his passing was also via a phone call on a beautiful Sunday afternoon upon my return from church. He was 95 years old and I’ve written about his life in this blog countless times as well as in mybook.

There’s a special bond between a daughter and her father. His role as protector, advisor, and cheerleader cannot be underestimated. He serves as the model for future relationships with men, both personally and professionally. I attribute my success in corporate America to the advice my father gave me.

I look back on those wilderness days and am awestruck at the transformation in my life. I’m blessed with good health and a growing business. My children are healthy, safe, and thriving in college and work. My financial challenges are dissipating after years of struggles. I owe this all to my father, that is, my Father in heaven.

It was not the savvy business, parenting, or financial advice of my earthly father that turned my wilderness into a ‘land of milk and honey.’ It was my faith in God. As I walked through these past few years, I had to learn to keep my eyes focused upward.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10 NKJV)

If my gaze was on my bank account or my employment status, I would’ve gone belly up like our little fish. I clearly remember God’s words to me throughout this process, “Be still and know that I am God.” Be still. This is difficult for me as I’m a doer, a worker, a mover and shaker. Being still requires trust and a knowing that everything will be okay.

My stillness was challenged this past week. I had to fight hard to regain my bearings. I had to dig deep into my faith and God’s promises to steady my ship. A trip to the beach yesterday was just what the doctor ordered to remind me that everything really will be okay because that’s God’s promise to His children.

If you’re in the wilderness today, circling around the same mountain again, I would like to encourage you to be still and look up. God has your back and He will continue to do so until the end of time.  Do not stare at your circumstances but fix your eyes on Him. I had to learn this and I continue to learn it every day when the enemy tries to remind me that all is not well in my world.

You cannot wish your wilderness away. You can’t blink your eyes or utter some magic words to make it disappear. You must take deliberate and proven steps to transform your situation.  You must ignite your faith in God and know like you know that He is the one in charge and always will be. Stop looking at the empty tank and look up.

When the women went to Jesus’ tomb, they were asked why they were looking for the living among the dead. Jesus wasn’t there. He had risen. He was and is alive. This is where our hope needs to be. This is how we get out of the wilderness.

“Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ ” (Luke 24:5-7 NKJV)

We are living in precarious times none of which any of us could’ve imagined. Every day a new hiccup appears in our news feeds, leaving us scratching our heads as to how this or that could’ve happened. While it may be a surprise to us, these days are no surprise to God. Rest assured, He is not scratching His head.

Our best bet is to remember this when things go awry in our lives. God is never, ever scratching His head. He has a plan and a purpose for our lives. We just need to get out of the wilderness, be still and look up.

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2: 9-11 NKJV)

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