Pondering the Paradise Path (Part7)

MANNA FROM MY FATHER’S HAND # 20 THE WILDERNESS WALK (Part 7) Pondering the Paradise Path In comparing our Christian walk with the Israelites’ sometimes weary walk through the wilderness, there finally comes the hope-filled moment of joy, when they actually REACH the Promised Land and cross over. While we are “this side of Glory” there will likely always be some aspect of the Wilderness Walk in our daily lives (whether for us or for those in our orbit). Also, for the Israelites of course, once they crossed into the Promised Land, they still had so very far to go in actually fully taking possession. Thankfully, for believers in Jesus Christ, there will come a time when we have fully entered into that New Life after our life here is over. The challenging thing is when we try to make THIS place our Promised Land, our Paradise if you will. We idolize things like our comfort, our surroundings, our ease of existence, what we like, etc., and begin to think we DESERVE those things. When things don’t go as we wish, it’s all too easy to “blame” God, as though He didn’t live up to His end of the bargain. Sadly, teachings that insinuate that there will be no “difficulties” in a Christian’s life add to this disillusionment all the more. We were never promised lives of no difficulty–if anything, we were promised quite the opposite “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Yet He DOES promise repeatedly that He will be WITH us in the midst of it all. And indeed He is. And He is faithful to use ALL that we go through to FIT us for eternity. He is testing and trying us to make us strong, as one would do when exercising or taking an actual test to show areas where we need to grow. All that to say, I will likely move on to other topics in my blog after this entry. This series has been so very full of the grace, faithfulness and goodness of God. He has whispered such love to my heart virtually every day, even though this season in my personal life has been one of the hardest, requiring daily devotion and reliance on His Holy Spirit, probably like never before. In many ways, we still have “miles to go before we sleep”, yet I know He is in all that we are going through. Because of these current challenges, I find myself in one of the most beautiful physical environments around. Like a Paradise on earth, which likely has come out in many of the photos and videos in recent weeks. Yet THIS is only a TASTE of what true Paradise is like. This place could be destroyed in a moment (and had been threatened in that way when hurricane Idalia came our way a few weeks ago). The true Paradise is eternal and everlasting. It is well worth laying down our comfort here as we walk forward to THAT place, trusting Him to bring us safely home. I’m going to share another video with this blogpost of some of the beautiful moments over the past few weeks as I’ve been here, taking walks in the morning to start my day with Jesus, before heading in to the various needs of each day/moment. Those times with Him will forever be cherished in my memory, as well as the times I’ve been able to share with my mother, stepfather and sister. One morning, during my walk, as the sun was rising behind me, the sky in front of me became so beautiful as the sunrise was being reflected off the western sky as well. In that moment, I thought of how it is so easy to look at others in a similar way. Others look beautiful or attractive when they have spent time with Jesus. Sort of like how Moses would look when he came from spending time with God. His face would glow, and he’d put a veil over his face until he went back again. “…the people of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face was shining. And Moses would put the veil over his face again, until he went in to speak with him.” (Exodus 34:35) Today, believers in Jesus Christ reflect His glory in an even more profound way: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18) As I saw the glory in the western sky, the thought crossed my mind “turn around”. For it was the glory in the eastern sky that was being REFLECTED in the west. Just as the glory of the Son is being reflected in His children. So, if you see someone who believes in Jesus, and you are tempted to think they have it all together, they have some sort of beauty that attracts your heart, they are wise, etc. Let this thought enter in… “Turn around”. (The actual meaning of the word “repent” means to turn around–so then you are facing TOWARD the Lord.) Turn around so you can see the TRUE glory. Draw near to HIM. Behold Him as He is. You will need to be humble and bow your heart before Him, for He is HOLY. Seek Him out. In order to arrive safely at your desired haven, the Promised Land, the true Paradise, you will need to follow the One. Others can point you to Him, and maybe you’ll see Him reflected off of them. Remember to turn around to see the One Who is causing them to radiate, as His Light shines upon them, and He’ll begin to cause His glory to pour into YOUR heart as well. There is ONE way to that Promised Land, that true Paradise. His name is Jesus. Before Jesus was crucified, He comforted His disciples and told them not to let their hearts be troubled, that He would be coming back for them, since He was going to prepare a place for them. Thomas asked Him about how they could know how to get to where Jesus was going. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) In my travels here, there was another interesting sign that says walkers and bikers who go beyond that point do so at their own risk. Dear fellow traveler, if you try to go to beyond the limits of this life without Jesus leading you, you do so at your own risk. He IS the Way. Follow Him. If your path is currently like a Wilderness Walk, perhaps thank Him for the tests along the way that will fit you for your final destination, His Paradise Path. If you find yourself looking at those around you and comparing yourself to them or thinking more highly of them than you ought, remember to TURN AROUND. Oh, you’ll see the One who’s shining on them, and that glory will sustain you throughout your moments in the wilderness. I remarked to my mother a day or two ago that I had seen a humming bird when I first got here (see my earlier post: The Wilderness Walk–Part 3), but that I had not seen one in the weeks since then. Reminded me how precious that moment was at first, realizing now that it was fairly rare to see them here during this season. This morning, as I was about to make my last turn to arrive at her “home”, I saw something small hovering above me about 10 feet up or so, against the morning sky I could see its tiny form, and wondered what it was as it hovered there near a large tree on the corner for several seconds. Once it became clear to me, and my had began to reach for my phone to take its picture, it flew into the large tree and disappeared. It was yet another “love-tap” from the Lord, of a little humming bird looking at me for an extended moment and then taking cover in the large tree. Even as I was getting the video for this arranged last evening, going out at dusk for one more peek at the sunset (having written the other parts of this post earlier), I was again encouraged by a Bald Eagle that flew right by me and went to sit up in a tree across the way. Then in a few moments a couple of the sweet doves that have so often cheered my heart came and walked near my feet, allowing me to capture them on video. Even a little lizard sat still long enough for me to take a picture (they usually scamper away so quickly there would be no way to even get the phone raised in time.) Special “coincidences” like that are often so fleeting, and if my eyes weren’t looking, I wouldn’t even have noticed. Probably is amazing how many things we miss because we don’t have our eyes open and our ears attentive. Listen for Him as He shows you the Way…. May He lead you always, by his grace, unto Himself. https://youtu.be/yRx5TNHbbRI

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