I had the privilege to meet Leah Lively because we both attended a conference called LIT, in which God moved and brought many of the attendees together online. I have been reading her blog regularly and have been impressed with the grace and steadfastness with which she walks through the great difficulty of her teenaged daughter’s chronic illness. She has given me encouragement and prayer for my own daughter and her emotional issues, for which I’ve been thankful, and she also gave me the opportunity to guest post on her blog, Bayou Blessings, back in January. I’m glad to introduce you to Leah, and I pray that her words of dependence on God through the desert will inspire and bring you courage to face your own desert. Afterwards, I hope you’ll get a chance to visit her at her own blog!
by Leah Lively
“In the morning you will be filled with bread (manna). Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.” Exodus 16:12
“One step forward, five leaps back…” I lamented to my daughter’s acupuncturist, tearfully. After a month of treatments, we were seeing some progress, minimal, but still progress. Then, an onslaught of pain, irritability, and anxiety resurfaced.
My thirteen-year-old daughter has spent the past year suffering from chronic pain and a host of other debilitating issues. Her life went from being full of friends, playing her trumpet, being active in the church youth group, and going to school, to barely being able to crawl out of bed, take a shower, and sit down for an hour of homebound schooling. She could be having a series of days with low anxiety and manageable pain and out of nowhere, she is bedridden again, barely functioning. She takes a step forward and five leaps back, frustrating for her and anguish for those on the sidelines. During the good days, we praised God, but we wonder when this pain, this desert, will end.
Moses led the Israelites into the desert. They didn’t wander into the desert, they were led. Moses followed God’s leading. God could have led them through fertile lands, along a shorter trade route, but in order to keep them safe from the Philistines, they had to go by way of the desert and the Red Sea. Moses was chosen to lead the Israelites because he was one of them, born into a Hebrew family, despite later being raised in the Egyptian palace. Moses escaped to the desert after he had killed an Egyptian while defending an Israelite slave. Moses lived in the desert of Midian for forty years. He knew this land God was leading them into well. He knew the desert, more than anyone else. God leads you into your desert because He knows your desert better than you do.
The Israelites had just praised God from delivering them from the Egyptians through the Red Sea. They looked behind them and saw God working but looked ahead and started worrying and grumbling over the bitter water available to them in desert. God took the bitter water and made it sweet. Our circumstances appear bitter until the presence of God brings out their sweetness.
How often in the trials of our lives do we remember how God provided in the past, but leave Him there, not carrying Him with us as we look ahead? It’s as if we are saying, “Yes, God brought me through that financial crisis several years ago, but how are we going to pay for these pressing doctors bills?” God shows up, performs a miracle, and we forget that He can work over and over again in the trials that come.
Just like the Israelites, we leave God in the last miracle. We leave God when we see Him working in those last few “good” days. Suddenly, our water becomes bitter because we haven’t brought Him into our situation to make it sweet again. He may not make it sweet immediately, but the sweetness will come. For the Israelites, their sweet water miracle turned into grumbling because they were hungry. Yet again, God rained down bread from heaven, manna. God said, “you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.” While the Israelites were grumbling, God was already preparing. While the Israelites worried over their needs and what would come next, God was ready to fill their stomachs with manna.
What is your manna? What is God filling your life with, at this moment, that without a doubt you know “I am the Lord your God”? This desert of chronic illness has had its many moments of stress and worry. God has performed miracle after miracle, providing funds to pay for mounting medical bills and bringing the right doctors and wisdom into our lives to guide us through each diagnosis. He has given our daughter blissful moments where her pain does not hinder the ability to enjoy a couple of hours at the neighborhood pool. I have to make a conscious effort to remember those moments of “sweet water” and remain watchful for the manna that is to come.
God promised the manna would continue until the Israelites made it to the Promised Land. For my daughter, we are prepared that her illness will remain with her for her entire life on earth. Her Promised Land will be an eternity in heaven that is pain free, anxiety free, and without tears. In the meantime, we will watch for our manna, and whichever form God chooses to bring it to us, it will come. My daughter’s manna may be a long FaceTime conversation with her best friend, half-way across the country. My manna is an upcoming five-day respite away with my husband as he attends a conference for work.
God knows what kind of manna we need to help us through our desert. In fact, He instructs the Israelites not to take that manna for granted. Savor it and remind one another of your manna for generations to come. Don’t leave behind the sweet-water miracles of life as we worry about our needs in the future. God is already there, ready to bring you the manna you need, to get you to the Promised Land.
Reference: Exodus 15:22-16:35
Meet Leah Lively
Leah Lively is a blogger, writer, and speaker from central Virginia as well as the wife of a hard-working husband, and she is mom to four emotionally charged kids. When she finds time to study and write at http://bayoublessingsblog.wordpress.com, Leah reflects on the throes of life with eyes wide open, looking for God in the midst of uncertainty.