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What Now? Moving Forward in your Spiritual Journey
When we take that first step of faith to follow Jesus and receive Him as our Lord, the Bible says we experience a spiritual birth – we become “born again”. This new birth isn’t physical, it’s spiritual. We come alive and awakened to a whole new world. The power of sin is broken over us and we experience forgiveness along with a new-found freedom and sense that God loves us and has great purpose for our lives.
“Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin…[but] if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” John 8:34-36
Before Christ, we didn’t know true freedom. We were slaves to our sin and selfishness. God was not our God. Self was God.
So what does a believer in Christ do with this new-found freedom? Where do we go from here when all we had known previously was the emptiness of sin and a life largely alienated from God? How do we handle freedom now? How do we learn to love God more than ourselves?
The Bible’s account of Israel’s exodus out of slavery in Egypt and through the wilderness gives us an amazing template for how God will take us through this journey of spiritual freedom.
A New Journey of Freedom
When the Israelites began their march out of Egypt, they were leaving the most developed civilization in the known world. Even though their life was harsh, they had been part of a society that had everything. The Nile River delta was the most lush and fertile region around.
Imagine leaving home and setting off on a 500-kilometer journey – on foot – with nearly 2.5 million others, bringing only what you can carry. Behind you is all you’ve ever known for generations. In front of you is everything you don’t know – a vast unknown territory of dry and rocky desert. You couldn’t exactly say you would be fully ready for what’s ahead.
Like the children of Israel, we will have moments in our faith walk where we’re tempted to look back toward Egypt. Which brings us to the first of seven things we must resolve in our spiritual journey.
1. Resolve to keep moving forward
As followers of Jesus we must never turn back.
“Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” Hebrews 10:38
“But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back to the things left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62
God is calling us to follow Him and trust that every step forward we take in obedience will be blessed and will lead us toward fulfilling our destiny. In the Exodus story, whenever the children of Israel complained and lamented about going back to Egypt, it rarely turned out well for them.
Remember that everything God has planned for you is ahead – not behind.
2. Resolve that God has you on a different path.
“When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea.” Exodus 13:17-18a
Have you ever felt like God was leading you the roundabout way? You could see the obvious path down the main road but for whatever reason, God was taking you a different way. As former slaves to sin, we may not always understand what God’s path of freedom looks like. The Israelites didn’t know that God leading them toward the Red Sea was setting the stage for them to experience one of the greatest miracles in history that we still talk about today. This miracle sealed their freedom that ensured Egypt would never again be able to enslave them.
Stay faithful on the roundabout path God has you on as you may be next in line for the most incredible display of His goodness and glory on your behalf.
3. Resolve that God will always be there for you.
“The Lord went ahead of them. He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and he provided light at night with a pillar of fire. This allowed them to travel by day or by night.” Exodus 13:21
Even though the children of Israel were in unknown territory, they were never lost. Better than a GPS, they had the Lord in front of them, helping them to continue moving forward at all times.
Regardless of whether we live in good times or dark times, God’s Spirit in us is like the pillar of cloud and fire and will give us clarity, direction and protection in every situation we face – to keep us moving forward. And Jesus promised we would never be alone on this journey:
“Then I will ask the Father to send you the Holy Spirit who will help you and always be with you. The Spirit will lead you into all truth. I won’t leave you like orphans. I will come back to you.” John 14:15-18
4. Resolve that there may be some bitter days, but there will surely be better days.
After crossing the Red Sea, it was only a few days before Israel went from singing to complaining again. After going three days without water, they came to Marah.
“Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters for they were bitter. And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet.”
Another time, Israel complained that they missed being able to eat the meat and bread of Egypt.
“I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell the people, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’” Exodus 16:12
For the rest of their time in the wilderness, God provided fresh bread (they called manna) in the morning and quail every night at sunset. This meat and bread from heaven was far better than anything they could have found in Egypt.
There’s always something going on in the world and in our lives that we could be bitter about, but let’s allow God to turn our bitter into better and trust Him each day to satisfy us with His fresh manna as we move forward on this journey.
5. Resolve that you will fight battles differently than before.
While Israel was making their way through the wilderness, they were attacked by the Amalekites. Moses recognized this wasn’t just a physical battle, it was spiritual. He ordered Joshua to assemble the army while he stood on top of the hill to hold his staff up to heaven. As long as Moses held his hands high, Israel was winning. And whenever he lowered his hands, Amalek would start winning.
“When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.” Exodus 17:12-13
As followers of Jesus, let’s recognize that our battle is first and foremost a spiritual one as we hold up our leaders as well as each other in prayer. Our battles will be won and lost in the prayer closet.
6. Resolve to draw close to God as He desires to be close to you.
Once the Israelites arrived at Mt. Sinai where God first spoke to Moses, God told him to gather the people closer around the foot of the mountain so they could see and hear God for themselves.
“The Lord said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.” Exodus 19:9
From there, God spoke the Ten Commandments – five for relating to God and five for relating to people.
Once Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was:
“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40
On this new journey, we are now free to love God with all our heart and free to extend that love to people around us.
7. Resolve that you are in this for the long haul.
Like the children of Israel, God has an amazing destiny and Promised Land for all of us. He is going ahead to prepare it and He is staying back to prepare us.
“My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land…and I will wipe them [your enemies] out. But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.” Exodus 23:23,29-30
Little by little God is going to mold and develop us so that we’re able to possess the vast territory He is preparing for us. Let’s continue this freedom journey and remember that it’s over the long haul that we will enter into everything God has promised for us.