Thanks for your grace and understanding for no published article last week. It’s true I was on vacation, but to be honest, there is more to the story.
While Becca and I spent 24 hours road-tripping from Albuquerque to Pennsylvania, I actually wrote a gushing account of God’s protection for our “precarious” drive to Pittsburgh.
Precarious, because an hour into our two-day drive, the evil check engine light came on. This, after 600$ the day before, for a new gas cap, two new tires and a re-attached loose wire on Becca’s 2015 Jetta.
Too committed to turn around, we decided it was probably nothing. And we did make it to Pittsburgh without giving the warning light another thought. With a smooth uneventful trip, my blog article was ready to go to print. God is so good.
Just to be Sure
To confirm our hunch though and to appease Doug, we took Becca’s car to a dealer while visiting family in State College.
“We found 4 wires that have been chewed,” the technician reported. “It appears you have rodent damage. The bill will be about $800.” It would be funny if it wasn’t so painful.
Now frustrated and grumbling, I attempted to edit the draft article to reflect an honest account. But somehow, in light of these new circumstances, God’s provision felt less abundant, less protective, less good.
Had God changed? Of course not. But my feeling towards Him had.
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
The God of our own Making
As I thought about new material for this week, nothing seemed more paramount than the lesson before me — my fickleness towards God. I’m confident it isn’t just me. It’s the crisis of our age. We love the God of our own making. A God who agrees with us and performs the way we think He should. A God we can manage and call upon only when needed.
No Faking Fine
The next phone call did me in. 7 more chewed wires and a nest complete with walnuts and hair. I pictured a possessed beady red-eyed rodent. The new amount would be $1229.
In the wake of costly rodent damage, there was no faking fine. I had lost my way when my gratitude to God was completely usurped by grumbling.
The Forty Year Road-Trip
I’m reminded of the grumbling Israelites on their forty year road trip out of captivity. (Exodus 15-17)
Yahweh had chosen Israel and had plans for its people. Because they weren’t ready to trust Him, God used the wilderness to build their character and grow their faith.
Moses obediently and faithfully led his people out of slavery in Egypt, destined for the promised land. But their gratitude for leaving captivity was undetectable. It seemed as if Moses was herding cats — petulant, ungrateful, whining children wanting their own way and always grumbling.
The wilderness is a metaphor for our lives. God uses our circumstances to mold us and make us into followers He can use, disciples who will consistently trust Him, grateful believers who recognize this life is not the end.
As Charles Spurgeon put it, “The wilderness was the Oxford and Cambridge for God’s students.“
And the way I see it, a wilderness can be any unfamiliar situation. It’s anything that disrupts our security or comfort, including a pandemic, a divided country or a little rodent damage. This is not a new strategy. God consistently leads us down paths that are insecure, uncertain and uncomfortable in order to grow our faith. We’re granted ample opportunity to get it right, to trust Him instead of ourselves.
Our reaction is telling
Just as is true for the grumbling Israelites, our reaction to such tests or wilderness times is a reflection of our faith. I call it the grumble quotient. On one end is gratitude and the other end is grumbling. The two can’t co-exist.
How are you doing right now? Have you been guilty of some grumbling? Is there something in your life that is testing you? Perhaps an unfair question to ask during a pandemic, but the Israelites were wandering for forty years.
It’s NOT over
Know that I am right there with you! My “test” is far from over. After picking up the VW having spent $1800, the check engine light CAME BACK ON. The Jetta now has a brand spanking new Oxygen sensor ticking our investment up to $2400. Then, driving the car back to Pittsburgh, you guessed it, the engine light CAME BACK ON, a 4th time. Becca will have to return to State College yet again! GRRRRRRUMBLE.
My whole family will be back in school this coming week. Ian begins his last semester at UNM. Becca begins grad school in Pittsburgh. And Doug hits the halfway point of his PhD. Not wanting me to miss out, God has enrolled me in His wilderness academy. There is no shame in attendance. The way I see it, He has big plans for me but…apparently I have much more to learn. I hear that the diploma will be pure gold.
1 Peter 1: 6-7 (MSG) I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.
For His Glory, Debbie Hucke
Thank you…feel like a fellow member of the Wilderness Academy💜
Yay… I’m not the only one. Let’s keep our eye on the prize.
I’m happy to have a name for what my foot had been putting me through. I love the Peter verse you included and had not thought of it in this way before. Pure gold. Thank you Debbie.
I love the Message translation especially for that verse. Hang in there MO. Pure gold.
Anne kole says
Thank you. I never left NM but am in the wilderness too. I think yours as you traveled was unusually wild. Rodent nest? Good grief, God, what next?
My wilderness journey isn’t nearly as dramatic or unusual. Minor health issues pop up. Morning walks interrupted. Last minute appointment changes. I am not in charge. But I am also blessed unexpectedly with phone calls from friends and family, resumed virtual violin lessons, and my morning walks.
I am reminded that God has a purpose in everything and it is all for my good. He never changes and he loves me. That is a solid truth to hang onto, especially in the wilderness!
Recognizing where we are and where we are headed is key! What a great attitude Anne!
Can you imagine 40 years for this pandemic? Yikes! May our faith prove pure.
I cannot imagine!!! But yes… May our faith prove pure.
Love, love, love this! Through teary eyes I praise God and thank you. I can surely relate to being in the Wilderness Academy. And this was the kicker that tightened the lump in my throat: it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.
Thank you for chiming in Susan. It’s a tough but beautiful truth to swallow. Glad to know this perspective has blessed you.
Geraldine Dempsey says
The insight God has given you is pure gold. You do not need a PhD, just keep up the wonderful gift that God has given you. Your skills in writing are amazing.
So kind, Gerrie! Thank you.
How stressful all of that sounds! I hope it is finally and fully resolved. Oh my, how we all can relate. Your message reminded me of my favorite poem, packed with truths, hope, and love.
God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
many a burden, many a care.
God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain rocky and steep,
Never a river turbid and deep
But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love
Author: Annie Johnson Flint
Thanks for sharing that precious poem! Indeed. Strength for today and hope for tomorrow. AMen!
Thanks for this poem, I love it and it never heard it. Terri
Right on Debbie, I am GRUMBLING and testy with friends and family. And I have no where near the issues that many of my acquaintances do. Yes, I want some cheese with my whine.
Glad you put a name to it and that I am not alone.
Happy hour with Kerry! Cheese with whine. Ha! Indeed you are not alone.
Berta Pitzer says
I’ve been going through my own Wilderness Academy! Glad to know I’ve been enrolled for months already! Praying for you and your family as you continue this education of a lifetime! May we be refined and found pure and pleasing to God as we trust Him, seek Him, and remain faithful to HIM! Not easy times…thanks for sharing.
Good to hear from you Berta. Indeed. Not easy times for sure. May He me glorified in it.
Earlier this week I was sitting on our back patio with a new Christian friend here in Pagosa Springs. It seemed like True Confessions time and I shared how I have been whining too much lately with small challenges I’m facing. I also shared that I know deep down this is God’s way of continuing to grow me and especially to teach me Grace. I must be graceful in all situations. While gratitude comes naturally for me in all circumstances, I am not necessarily Grace-full and all circumstances. So I, too, have joined your Wilderness Academy! Thanks for this and all of your posts, Debbie, we look forward to them every week.
Thanks for sharing. So pleased you’ve connected with a new Christian friend there. I like the distinction you make between gratitude and gracious. Glad to have you in class! And thanks for your encouragement.
Diane Newswander says
I know we all have many things to grumble about these days but we also have lots to be thankful for. God is making us all think about that everyday with all the challenges and changes we experience. But HE is so good and in control and we have to always trust and have faith. Thank you for this blog and the raw truth and insightful ways you give me to reflect on.
Amen Diane. Thank you
Sheila Harris says
Oh, Debbie – This is spot on. My day begins with indignant grumbling just because I have to get up. Then there’s the unfairness of the shutdown. And the over reach of the governor. I find grumbling to be my default. I think my engine problem light is on. Your blog plus seeing you today have inspired me to rise above, if I can, my really shocking sense of entitlement. Entitlement to a life of pleasure devoid of trouble or sorrow. It’s really absurd that I have that expectation, but apparently I do. Thank you for the insight. Love you. 💜💜
Aww Sheila! You are among the kindest people I know. Romans 8:1. On repeat. Welcome to the academy!